Happy friggin’ Thanksgiving, from Hanesbrands

by Jim Longworth

Happy friggin’ Thanksgiving, from Hanesbrands

Every time Hanesbrands CEO Richard Noll speaks to the media, it’s like listening to a broken record. Somehow there’s always someone else to blame for his having to lay off more people. It’s the government, or it’s the market conditions, or it’s the global economy. We’ve heard it all before from Mr. Scrooge. Last year just before the holidays, Noll announced elimination of subsidized medical benefits for retirees. Now, just in time for Thanksgiving, he’s laying off 210 more people, and plans to close HBI’s China Grove plant by Christmas. That brings Noll’s two-year total to nearly 14,000 people whose jobs have been sent to foreign countries, where he can pay desperate folks a dollar a day to make undies which he can then ship back into this country, and sell at increased prices to the employees he’s just laid off. It’s getting so bad that Americans won’t be able to afford underwear, just like the poor people who are making them overseas. Of course, none of this affects Mr. Richard Moneybags who makes $8 million a year. It also doesn’t affect his board members who could give a rat’s ass that a once-proud American company is now almost totally staffed by foreigners — not because of global economics, but because of local greed. Oh sure, I’ve heard from a few scared public figures who suck up to Noll so they can get a few bucks for their organization. They say, “Jim, stop criticizing Hanesbrands or else they might shut down all of their plants in NC.” Hey you mice among men, wake the f**k up! He’s pretty much already done that anyway, so what’s the threat? Numbers don’t lie. At the time of the spinoff from Sara Lee in 2006, HBI employed only 350 people in Asia. By the end of this year, that number will be 6,000. So what can we do except whine and complain about the destruction and havoc that Noll continues to wreak? Plenty. First of all, don’t buy anything with a Hanesbrands label. That includes not buying HBI T-shirts at Disney World. A nationwide boycott, including Michael Jordan, could actually bring Noll to his knees and force the board to revamp management. Second, on the local level we need for Winston-Salem City Council and the Forsyth County Commission to grow a collective pair and issue a joint resolution censuring Noll and his board for irresponsible behavior and their total disregard for American workers. Further, the resolution should call on HBI to bring back the jobs Noll has eliminated. This would be a purely symbolic, non-binding resolution, but it would give the federal

government and the national media some public-relations ammunition for reform. Third, we need new regulations from the Obama administration that would clearly define the parameters of what qualifies as an American corporation. For example, in order to be incorporated in the United States, we should require a company to employ 90 percent of its workforce in America. Further, if a company should fail to meet the new requirement, then the CEO and board must headquarter and incorporate in the country in which the most employees reside. I’m just guessing now, but I doubt that Richie Rich and his greedy board of directors are ready to move to China or Indonesia. Fourth, every person laid off from HBI since 2006 can no longer receive monies or retraining under the Federal Trade Adjustment Assistance Act. Instead, Hanesbrands will have to pay for those benefits and reimburse the government retroactively for monies we’ve spent helping former HBI employees to relocate. Fifth, Mr. Obama must make good on his promise to deny tax breaks of any kind to any corporation that ships jobs overseas. But Mr. “Change We Need” must go one better than that. President Obama should sign an executive order forcing companies like HBI to reinstate full pension and health benefits to every person they’ve laid off over the past two years. I am already hearing from lots of Hanesbrands folks who are appreciative that someone is still trying to hold Noll’s feet to the fire. Now, we just need for a few lawmakers to get with the program, and start the ball rolling on some of my recommendations. Some of us will be celebrating the holidays as usual. But for many others, there’s not much about which they can give thanks except their good health, which I hope remains good, because Richard Noll has cheated them out of

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