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.
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
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