Wednesday, April 9, 2008

MANY ON FORTUNE TOP 50 AT BOTTOM OF LIST FOR EMPLOYEES

PHIL MATTERA, DIRT DIGGERS DIGEST Fortune magazine has come out with the latest edition of its list of the 500 largest publicly traded U.S. corporations, and all the attention will be paid to which companies rank higher or lower based on revenue. For the average person, another measure of the performance of those giant corporations may be more relevant: the extent to which they are depressing wage rates by getting rid of unions or continuing to keep them out of their operations. . .

One way to gauge this is to look at the new 10-K filings that companies have been issuing in recent weeks. Each of those documents-annual reports submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission-has a section on employees in which companies have traditionally given an indication of the extent to which their workforce is unionized.

I decided to look at these sections for the top 50 on the new Fortune list. I found that, of that group, only five reported that a majority of their U.S. employees are covered by a collective bargaining agreement: General Motors, Ford, AT&T, Kroger and UPS. An additional half dozen reported that a minority of their U.S. workers have union protection: Verizon (40%), Boeing (36%), General Electric (15%), Costco (11%), AmerisourceBergen (4%) and Wellpoint ("a small portion"). Two companies-United Technologies and Marathon Oil-mention unions but don’t indicate the extent of their presence. The remaining 35 companies (State Farm and Freddie Mac don’t file 10-Ks) make no reference to unions or declare they are union free.

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