USG Corp, YOU Should be “Occupied!” Shame On You!

USG Corp.  In case anyone doesn’t know what USG stands for it stands for United States Gypsum.  Guess what UNITED STATES Gypsum is doing?

This company, with UNITED STATES in its name, is shutting down all its financial hubs and OUTSOURCING all the accounts payable jobs as well as IT jobs.

I found this out today from a friend who will be affected by this.  In her office, which will be open (for some employees) through April (gotta get that year end closing done!) the following people will be so adversely affected by this that it may destroy them, financially:

A  54 year old woman with a husband on disability who has worked there for the past 8-9 years.

A 53 year old woman who has worked there for most of her adult life.

A 44 year old woman who is a single mom of two, who currently can’t make ends meet on the salary they pay her,  lives in subsidized housing and has been known to get food for herself and her kids from the local food pantry and who has a child with ongoing healthcare needs.

Today I was told that the employees were called into a meeting where they were told the office would be closing, as would all the financial hubs and then it was explained to them that their jobs would eventually be “outsourced.”  We’ll get to that in a bit.  Here’s the icing on the cake:   There will be a “stay” package given to certain employees so that they can keep their jobs through the closing of the hub.  When the director was asked how it will be determined who will get a “stay” package the reply that was given was this:

“I’m  not going to think about that until I have to.”

Excuse me?  WTF??  This is corporate America.  They have ALREADY chosen who will get the “stay” package and if it were legal to do so, I’d list the names here.  I know who will get it.  I know, because I worked in that office and I know the politics of it. I know the favoritism that goes on and I know how terribly ineffective the current director is.  He’s a nice enough guy, but a truly bad manager.

The employees were told that they would all get “severance” packages but when the local HR representative was questioned as to what those packages would be, he did what ALL good little corporate HR minions do:  He hedged and said “we’re not sure yet.”  Of COURSE they’re sure.  They’ve known for months they were going to do this, and if it wasn’t known at mid-level it has certainly been in the works at the top levels.

Now, let’s talk about the piece that chaps my other butt cheek.  “Outsourcing.”

Okay, as a rule, in America, when someone hears “outsource” they think of India, Mexico, or the Philippines.  So when the question was asked where the jobs would be outsourced, the answer was, again, in good minion-like fashion:  “We haven’t determined that yet.  We’re exploring several different sources.”  Or something like that.  I put it in quotes, but I got it second-hand.  I wasn’t actually in the meeting.

It’s possible that with the accounting portion of it, the term “outsource” means they will funnel the work to an American company that provides contract labor, either in a call center-type environment, or it will be sourced to telecommuting temporary/contract employees.  It could also mean that all accounting personnel will be laid off, the work will all go to Chicago and temps will be hired to do it, at a very low rate of pay and with no benefits.

OR, it could mean they will send it all out of our country, this company with UNITED STATES in its name, will add to our already failing economy by stealing jobs from Americans and giving them to people in other countries because they’ll work for so much less money.  That will ensure that Bill Foote and his minions continue receiving their “competitive compensation” packages. (see below)


How many at your executive level even considered taking a pay cut or giving up returns on options so that a single mom with two kids, a woman whose husband is on disability and a woman who has given most of her adult life to YOU can keep their jobs, their sanity, their homes, their kids in braces, food on their tables, their health insurance, their car insurance?  How many of you even gave a single thought to what this would do to those who truly NEED every paltry penny you’ve paid them?

I know how paltry those pennies are, because I used to work for you.  I know that you barely pay a living wage in the city within which I live.

This is from an article written in 2007, as USG was recovering from their “asbestos” issue which sent them into Chapter 11.  Here’s the link so you can read the entire thing, but this gem truly astounded me, since the company was emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy (how many were laid off while this was happening?).  Gee, if I went into bankruptcy, I doubt I’d emerge with a “competitive compensation” package.

“USG’s executive officers received non-qualified option grants that vest at a rate of 20% per year and restricted stock units that vest at 25% per year.  During bankruptcy, management had the certainty of cash.  Options they owned could have been underwater.  On the other hand, with a cash plan, they missed out on appreciation, Jarrett explains.  Another option grant was made in March, 2007 as part of the new long term incentive plan, which also included grants of restricted-stock units and performance shares.  Fox adds, ‘We were trying to establish competitive compensation, but to have the shareholders look at it and say, ‘”this is fair.  They’ve delivered value for the shareholders.”‘ 

“Another issue arose when the committee decided to give special cash awards to Foote and his two top lieutenants, CFO Rick Fleming and general counsel Stan Ferguson, for their leadership during the Chapter 11 proceedings.  Foote was given $1 million, and Fleming and Ferguson each earned $500,000.  “They all did both jobs — restructuring and running the business,” explains Jarrett.  The board felt they deserved to be rewarded.  But “we knew this was going to be in our disclosure documents. We asked ourselves, ‘Can it stand up to the shareholders reading it?'” The plan was detailed in the March 2007 proxy and did not generate any controversy among shareholders.”  

Excuse me?  They’ve delivered value for the shareholders?  Oh, okay.  That’s all that matters.  They get rewarded for delivering value to the shareholders.  WHAT FREAKING VALUE DID THEY DELIVER TO THEIR EMPLOYEES????

Now, take a look at this.  This is Bill Foote’s (Chairman of the Board for USG)  total compensation for the year 2009!!!   This came from here.  Take a gander at it.  Oh, poor guy.  He didn’t get a bonus.  Gosh.  I bet that was used as a pity tool for lack of bonuses that year.  “Bill Foote didn’t even get a bonus.”

Compensation for 2009

Salary $1,150,000.00
Bonus $0.00
Restricted stock awards $2,163,161.00
All other compensation $64,504.00
Option awards $ $1,088,858.00
Non-equity incentive plan compensation $782,000.00
Change in pension value and nonqualified deferred compensation earnings $1,886,957.00
Total Compensation $7,135,480.00

His total compensation two years ago as our economy was hitting the skids, was more than 200 times that of the average employee at one of the financial hubs.  You know – the employees who process all those payables and receivables that balance in such a way as to provide him this ENORMOUS AND UNNECESSARY compensation.

I did a quick calculation based on a pay rate that I believe to be an average for the office where my friend works, and that includes the two management people and the “HR” person (who isn’t the local HR representative.)  I chose $40,000.  Yes, people, I know that many in that office make much less than this amount but I know at least one who makes a hell of a lot more.

0.04% of Bill Foote’s total compensation package in 2009 could have paid the salaries for that office for all employees for a full year.

Bill Foote, why are you allowing this to happen?

Why aren’t you standing for the UNITED STATES that is in your company name and sacrificing so that YOUR people can keep their jobs??

Why are you, the chairman of the board for UNITED STATES Gypsum, allowing jobs to be outsourced?

Why are you allowing a single mom with two children who you already pay so little that she has to get food from a free food pantry to be “downsized?”

Why are you allowing a 54 year old woman with a disabled husband to be “downsized?”

Why are YOU and YOUR EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE not sacrificing to HELP these people instead of kicking them out of the way as though they are some sort of garbage in the way of your (most likely) Italian-shod feet?

I know why you are doing this.  You live in a luxury mansion, with all the coolest, latest gizmos and gadgets, you have a wife who expects to wear designer clothing and have luxury vacations, your children are probably in private schools, your food is the best your money can buy, you must pay your interior designer, you must pay your gardener, housekeeper, and let’s not forget that you must pay for your luxury automobiles…oh wait.  I’ll bet the company pays for those.  And for the insurance on them.

Bill Foote, I worked for you.  For YOU, because YOU represent USG.  I was terminated in February, 2011.  I cannot find work.  I’ve had to reinvent myself.  I’m having to move from my lovely quaint neighborhood into a low-rent district 100 miles away so I can afford to have a roof over my head.  Yet, I’m one of the fortunate ones.  I don’t have any other mouths to feed.  I am not a single mom with two children.  I have a skill set outside of what I did for your company.  I don’t have a child with special health-care needs.  I don’t have a disabled husband.  I just have two cats.  I’m fortunate.

Hey Bill, do you own an iPhone?  An iPad?  How much did you pay for your last Gitman Brothers shirt?  Or was it Brooks Brothers?  Or maybe something even more expensive.  How much did you pay for your last golf sweater?  Know how much I paid for my last sweater?  $2.50 and I bought it at Goodwill.  How about your Allan Edmonds shoes?  Maybe you don’t wear Allan Edmonds.  Maybe they’re just too “pedestrian” for you at more than $300 a pair.

Hey Bill, since your company terminated me without severance, guess how much money I have left every month to eat, while living on unemployment?  $77.  I bet you spend that on lunch.

Hey Bill, how the hell do you expect these people you are “downsizing” to take care of themselves and their families at even a basic level?  Oh wait, I forgot.  They’re not people.  They’re numbers.  Do you know their names?  Nope.  You don’t want to know their names because that would make it personal.  Want to know who you’re ruining?  Post here with your email and I’ll email you the names of the people in that office who will suffer most from your greed.

Hey Bill, before you lay all these people off, before you spend another penny of the money your employees earned for you, take a month and live on $1,356.  Feed your family on it, pay all your bills on it.  Have tons of fun on it and then report back to me and tell me how well you did, because that is precisely the amount the Transaction Associates in the hub in my city will get for unemployment benefits.

Hey Bill, maybe someone needs to Occupy USG.  Whatcha think?  You and your executive minions are a disgrace to this country.  USG does not deserve to have the words UNITED STATES in its name.

Don’t tell me about all your philanthropy.  I know all about corporate executive philanthropy.  It’s bogus.  Now, were you to do it anonymously, and from your own pocket in figures that would make a difference in the lives of those people you are “downsizing” I might have some respect for you.  You won’t do it.

Hey Bill!  Be a REAL leader, step out and make a difference instead of allowing your sense of entitlement to tell you that you deserve more than $7 million a year in compensation.

Bill, be a warrior!  Have courage, man.  Step up to the plate, make a significant sacrifice yourself and then tell your executives that they must also do it, to set an example.  Think of the domino effect that could have!  Think of it – your name in NEON:  Bill Foote, Compassionate and Humanitarian Executive Saves Employees At His Own Expense!  

All it takes is one REAL leader, Bill.  Just one.  Are you that leader?

Bill, in this country, it’s unheard of for the Chairman of the Board of a major American corporation to personally extend a helping hand to his employees, to those employees from which so bloody much loyalty and hard work is demanded, to those employees who are told how oh-so-important they are…until they’re not, and to those employees whose loyalty and hard work is repaid with a big fat ZERO.  Bill, what’s $7 million minus zero?  That’s what you’ll earn this year.  What’s 11 people with families minus jobs?  Can you do that math?

It seems your $7 million plus is way more important than the survival of the average American families who may be ruined by your latest decision.  Oh, it wasn’t YOUR decision?  Oh yes it was, because it could not have happened without your knowledge and without you signing off on it.   Go ahead, blame it on the board members.  It was THEM.  They voted to do this.  Oh, it was the shareholders.  Ahh, that makes all the difference.  NOT.  Be accountable, Mr. Chairman.

You could have prevented it, but instead you chose to ruin those less fortunate than yourself.  Well, Mr. Chairman, all I have left to say is this:  As ye sow, so shall ye reap.  Biblical justice is sometimes a fine thing to watch.  No, that’s not a threat, so don’t go running for your battalion of corporate attorneys.  It’s simply the way of life.  You get what you give.  You may not get it tomorrow or next year, but you will get it.  It doesn’t come in an in-kind form, either.  The universe has a sense of justice and humor and it does provide balance.  If you get with it and do the right thing; if you do the moral thing, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you did right.  That’s worth way more than $7 million a year, don’t you think?

You think you’re doing this for the good of the company?  Nah.  You did this for yourself.  There was another way.  You and your board chose the low road and that is the path most traveled and most destructive.  That path is fairly congested these days.


10 thoughts on “USG Corp, YOU Should be “Occupied!” Shame On You!

  1. I hope Bill Foote is directed to this post. He will be held accountable on that day of reckoning that we all face, for his actions. No whining about how “hard” it is to be a corporate executive, no whining about how he was “forced” to it by his shareholders. He, and only he, is responsible for the imminent destruction of many lives.

  2. Pingback: Hey Bill Foote! Here’s MY Story In Case You’re Interested (Which You Probably Aren’t) « Dating a Personality (Disorder)

  3. I went through something similar when my company closed my office too. The new CEO mumbled and stumbled through his presentation. It was horrible. I kept thinking “and this guy gets paid half a mil a year to do this?” Lame.

  4. Until pimps like him realize that you can not use people like TP., he too will get treated like that when the time comes , which ; in my estimation is sometime in the very Near future . The Mayan civilization refers to this time , that is coming , as a time of renew ell and reinvention .Sounds harmless to those with no conscience All I would say to him is –good luck .

    • Jim, the universe has a grand sense of balance and humor. Whether the Mayans, Hopi tribe, Nostradamus or the Web Bot are right/wrong, at some point all people who grind other human beings to dust in an effort to gain for themselves will pay a huge price. It’s the beauty of karma.

  5. Please not that USG is not closing down all of its financial hubs. It is outsourcing its A/P. It is my opinion as an employee that next year at this time that all of the A/R will be outsourced as well.

    • Miss Anonymous,

      Having been through 5 corporate downsizes in 30 years, I know all the lies they tell employees to make them feel “safe” until they’ve got everything aligned to drop the hatchet all the way. I think it will be less than a year before AR is outsourced. they may NOT outsource receivables – instead they may send them all to chicago and hire temps at bottom dollar with no benefits to process them. They want to keep their revenue stream close to their tiny little black hearts. Payables? Nah. Income? Oh yeah, they’ll keep a close eye on that.

      IMHO, it’s all an exercise in Twister. Let’s see who can get pretzeled up the worst before they come tumbling down.

  6. Here’s a big insult to the employees at the Baltimore financial Hub. Christmas of 2010 we weren’t given a bonus. Apparently “no one” got a bonus. I’ll bet Bill Foote’s “competitive compensation” package for 2010 shows a zero on the bonus line.

    Know what we got? We got gift cards. I can’t remember what kind they were, but they were provided (we were told) out of the pocket of the Director of the hub. I don’t know whether that’s true or not. Our holiday gathering was a MANDATORY gathering at a local bowling alley where some people bowled and the rest sat around being bored. Food wasn’t provided. It was snowing that day – HARD. And we all had to go to this bowling thing. No one in the office was consulted as to what they wanted – it was the brainchild of the director.

    So we all trekked out in the snow to go watch him bowl. Some people probably had fun. Me? I wasn’t totally bored. I love to people watch and I watched as the group divided into cliques; I watched to see who interacted with whom. It was rather fascinating. At one point I was asked to photograph the office suck up with our boss. Sure, why not. No one asked to photograph me or wanted to be photographed with me. I know why. Doesn’t bother me; didn’t bother me then. I found it all rather amusing.

    So, while we were all attempting to provide something memorable for the holidays for our families, since that is the time of year when many great family memories are made, Bill Foote and his corporate minions were most likely lolling about on tropical beaches or sitting by warm and cozy fireplaces watching their families ooh and ahh over expensive (and unnecessary) gifts. Know what my son got for christmas that year from me? Nothing. I was barely supporting myself, and I had to explain to him that I had no money, not even $50 to send him for Christmas and then I asked him to forgive me. My son, who has watched me struggle to raise him over the years, was blown away that I would ask him to forgive me for not having any money to send him for christmas.

    My son turned 22 in August. I was unable to send him even $10 in a card. He got a card. No, he doesn’t NEED me to send him money, but it’s something that says “hey honey, I’m thinking about you.” So I called, and told him in advance that the card I was sending had no money in it.

    For 6 months I’ve been saving change. I’m glad I did, because my son is getting what he wants for Christmas this year. At 22, he’s addicted to yo-yo-ing. I’m probably a bit to blame for that because he and I would watch old Smothers Brothers shows on TVLand when he was little.

    The Yo-Yo he wants costs $105. It’s for “extreme” yo-yoers. I have enough to pay for half of it and I asked his dad to pay the other half. My son will get his yo-yo. That’s all he wants. A yo-yo.

    I’m not extravagant. I never have been that way and my son has never received extravagant gifts from me, but I’ve always been able to observe his birthday by giving him something, and once he turned 16, by giving him at least $50, and sometimes $75 or $100.

    I wonder how much Bill Foote’s kids are getting this year. I know when I was married to the son of a regional business mogul, my father-in-law passed out money on holidays and birthdays like it was water. $10,000 to him was like $10 to us. When my son was 12, he was handed $500 by his step-grandfather. The presents under the tree took up almost an entire room in his mansion. He would take the entire family (around 20 people, including kids and spouses) to dinner monthly at a restaurant where entrees were never less than $50 a pop. He paid $6,000 for the photographer for my wedding to his son; for a photographer who turned out crap photos. He paid $3,000 for the reception buffet for less than 50 people. He set up a trust for his kids that paid them each $20,000 a quarter. then, at holidays he’d gift each of them $11,000, which was the amount he could write off and that they didn’t have to declare on taxes.

    I later found out that while he was doing this, several people in offices up and down the eastern seaboard had been downsized. So I know of what I speak when I say that I know how Bill Foote and his corporate minions will be celebrating their holidays.

    It’s not right. I have lived large and I have lived small. I would rather live small and know that everything I have came from my own efforts and was not given to me while others were being destroyed. I wonder if the families of corporate executives all over this nation will give even a passing thought to that sentiment. Probably not.

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