Monday, December 8, 2008

Workers First

My brother, earlier in his career, had a bad habit of working for companies that went out of business while he was still an employee. When Builder's Square went out of business years ago, Greg had built up a couple weeks of vacation time when his employer declared bankruptcy. Since workers come way down the line when it comes to selling the company's assets to pay creditors, he didn't see a penny of his earned vacation pay.

With all the business closings going on these days, hundreds of thousands of workers, like those in Illinois who are occupying their plant after their employers violated federal law by laying them off with only three days' notice, find themselves in the same situation Greg did. But these workers aren't teenagers who miss out on spending money. They include parents trying to support their families and older workers close to retirement.

How about a law that, when a company goes out of business, workers get their money first? After they've received their owed compensation, other creditors, such as banks and shareholders, can be paid. What's the problem with that?

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