Marriage is love.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Workplace Tremors: How Chapter 11 Is Demolishing Employee Expectations

From Sunday's Washington Post:

The scene in Lower Manhattan was reminiscent of teenagers rushing to the front of a concert stage, only this time it was middle-aged lawyers and Wall Street bankers who pushed elbow to elbow into a federal courtroom no bigger than a gas station mini-mart.

The throng of pinstripe suits forced court aides to call in workers to pry open windows for ventilation, allowing U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert D. Drain to proceed with the Oct. 11 opening-day hearing regarding the "petition for relief" by Michigan auto parts maker Delphi Corp. under Chapter 11 of federal bankruptcy laws.

Once shunned by respectable companies and ignored by Wall Street, federal bankruptcy court has become the venue of choice for sophisticated financiers and corporate managers seeking to pull apart labor contracts and roll back health and welfare programs at troubled companies.

About 150 major corporations are now in some stage of bankruptcy reorganization, including four of the nation's leading airlines. As the prospect of other large enterprises taking a spin down Chapter 11 becomes more widely discussed in business circles ("maybes" on the list include such iconic names as General Motors and Ford), the tactics used in bankruptcy courts are shaking the very foundations of the American workplace...