Xerox workers at the Wilsonville campus in Oregon held a funeral for the death of the American Dream during a visit Aug. 11 by CEO Ursula Burns.
About 150 employees who put together ink jet cartridges have been working without a contract since July. They are members of Service Employees International Union Local 49.
According to the union, management is attempting to eliminate workers’ sick days, reduce pay for long-term employees by up to 50 percent, and roll back retirement benefits. Over the last several years
Xerox also has increased its temporary workforce to 30 percent, and is looking to increase it to 50 percent.
“It’s really hard not knowing that any day your job can be turned into a temporary position or sent overseas” said Beverly Robinson, a 31-year Xerox employee. “It creates insecurity when there doesn’t have to be. Ms. Burns could make a different choice for all of us and our families.”
According to SEIU Local 49 spokesperson Maggie Long, workers at the Wilsonville plant accepted pay freezes and reduced work hours in 2009 to keep Xerox’s American operations profitable. Since 2010, the company has seen a 56 percent increase in profits ($606 million in profit last year on sales of $21.6 billion). Burns’ pay jumped from $11.2 million in 2009 to $13.2 million last year.
“This is the same story we have seen over the last two decades,” said 15-year- employee Chris Singrey. “Even when corporations in America are doing well they feel no loyalty to their longtime workforce and the communities they operate in — it’s just about shareholder profits.”
Meg Niemi, president of SEIU Local 49, said the union’s hope is that Xerox “can chose a different way and that Ms. Burns sees that we are all committed to having good jobs in local Oregon communities.”
Xerox acquired the Wilsonville color printer facility from Tektronix in 2000. It has about 1,500 employees locally and 130,000 worldwide.