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On The Road in Columbia Falls

COLUMBIA FALLS ALUMINUM -- Columbia Falls, Montana

In this segment we meet Bobbie Gilmore, an accountant at Columbia Falls Aluminum Company, who took a rare stand against her employer when he failed to live up to a profit-sharing agreement with employees. Businessman Brack Duker bought Columbia Falls Aluminum Company in 1985, when the aluminum manufacturing industry plummeted, asking workers to take 21 percent wage and benefit cuts. Although they reluctantly took such reductions, employees were inspired to help Duker turn the company around, since he promised to share with them the company's future bottom-line. The deal seemed to pay off for the employees the first year, when they received payment almost equivalent to the sacrifices they made. But in the late 1980s, when the price of aluminum sky-rocketed, the profit sharing checks didn't--they disappeared. Filing a class action suit on behalf of the plant's workers, Bobby decided to fight for her fair share.

"The notion that you are up against unbelievable odds shouldn't stop people," says Bobbie. "One person really can make a difference." After six years of court room battles, this Spring Bobbie and hundreds of other workers celebrated a $97 million settlement, each receiving payments from several thousand to $300,000.

 

Livelyhood's third one-hour special, "Honey, We Bought the Company," aired on PBS in September 1998. For information on how to order the show, call 510-268-WORK.

TO BIDDEFORD | TO HOPI RESERVATION
TO MADISON | TO SOUTH BRONX

These images captured by the Apple QuickTake 200 digital camera.

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