Why didn’t I think of this?

Did you hear about the French 3M employees who took their boss hostage to try to get a better severance deal? (Apparently, they let him go last night.)

Now, why didn’t I think of that?

I’ll tell you why — I’m civilized, that’s why. Sure, I just got laid off, but I just can’t begin to identify with the kind of proletarian rage — or Gallic sense of entitlement, or whatever is being expressed here — that leads to this kind of lawlessness.

It wouldn’t even occur to me to resort to harsh words, much less violence. Not that this is violence, we’re told. Here’s an excerpt from a story during the standoff:

The stand-off, which isn’t violent, started on Tuesday when workers refused to allow plant director Luc Rousselet leave his office unless 3M sweetened severance packages being negotiated for the fired workers. Negotiations between the two sides are supposed to re-start late on Wednesday to try to find a solution.

Right. Maybe holding another person, physically, against his will isn’t technically violence, but it seems a prosecutor could make a good case for kidnapping, which in this country (to use a great Jack Nicholson line) is considered a more serious offense (I think; you lawyers correct me if I’m wrong) than simple assault. In fact, in some jurisdictions, doesn’t holding someone against his will constitute grounds for a lynching charge?

Apparently, after the workers let the boss go, negotiations on the severance were to continue. Seriously. Instead of everyone involved being hauled in and put under the jail, negotiations are to resume. What a country.

Meanwhile, workers are busting windows in Edinburgh to express their rage at a bank exec’s sweet retirement deal, so worker lawlessness is not restricted to France.

Of course, I will say that civil behavior cuts both ways. I’m parting with my newspaper amicably, and the paper is as responsible for that as I am. Robert and I received some nice tributes in the paper, and we were able to clean out our offices without armed guards standing over us. Robert tells me that another cartoonist laid off last week was told one day that he would lose his job the next, then when he came in the next morning to clean out his office, he was locked out.

As David Brent says, “Professionalism is… and that’s what I want.” Either you understand how to behave in a professional, civilized manner, or you don’t. Some companies, and some workers, don’t. Some do.

10 thoughts on “Why didn’t I think of this?

  1. Lee Muller

    Maybe Obama can get his ACORN buddies to bus people over to the offices of The State paper for a phony protest, like he did with AIG.

  2. Greg Flowers

    I guess you saw where the Christian Science Monitor is shutting down its print version. When I was in college (30 years ago) they were considered to be one one of the world’s top news sources.

    Was on Shop Road earlier today and saw where the State is letting space in its building. A sad sight. Does anyone remember when the State’s offices were in the first block of Main north of the capital (up until the early 1950’s I think)?

  3. Randy E

    Brad, you didn’t have Bill Murray from Scrooged as your boss? Murray fired a guy and had his stuff dumped on the street within minutes.

  4. Doug Ross


    They moved just outside the city limits for tax purposes. I know Brad disagreed with that move and would have preferred a downtown location.

    The State is big on tax reform except when it comes to the benefits it receives. No sales tax on papers… what rational reason would there be for that exemption?

  5. Greg Flowers

    Yeah they moved out by the stadium in the early 50’s and then to Shop Road when, 15 years ago. They were on Main for over 50 years.

  6. Bette Cox

    In this day of high-tech everything, I still prefer to sit in my easy chair with a hot cup of coffee and my newspaper (not a laptop) every morning… but at least I can still read your blog when I do make it to my computer, Brad! Now, when will you fill out the “About” section?

  7. Sean S.

    Simply stating that something is illegal doesn’t make it unethical. Clearly when large corporations use the veneer of respectability, with the acquiescence of politicians and legal systems, to ram through unethical and immoral decisions on their workers, people are going to get frustrated. It’s nice that your employer had the decency to do the right thing; others don’t.

    Is this a defense of doing crazy things? Not necessarily. But it takes a special sort of smugness to kick workers when their down and out, and especially as many governments are teetering dangerously close to ignoring the people who they’re supposed to be looking after.

  8. brad

    Well, at least you called my smugness “special.” Seriously, I do believe in the rule of law. I’ve always been a John Adams sort of American, not a Sam Adams.

    Sam Adams led a mob that dumped the tea into Boston Harbor to make a political point (I initially typed “political pint,” which shows I was thinking of another sense of Samuel Adams). His cousin John had so much respect for the rule of law that he defended, successfully, the redcoats who did the shooting in the “Boston Massacre,” an incident that Sam’s allies helped instigate and capitalize upon.

    The cousins wanted the same things in the end. But they had very different ways of getting there, and the difference was based in their attitudes toward the rule of law.

  9. brad

    Oh, and in response to Bette’s question — I’m still figuring out WordPress, which includes the About section. But aren’t you proud of me that I managed to get my mug on my responses?

Comments are closed.