Sunday, July 08, 2007

Quest Diagnostics and a Brave New World!

Imagine if you will a dynamic company with employees wholly dedicated to both the company and the management team of that company. Then imagine the emotions which those employees must be feeling after learning of what is being seen as a likely buyout of that company. Or should I say likely sellout?

Yes, there are many factors to be considered by many different people involved or affected by this possible buy/sellout. First is the matter of how it will affect both upper and middle management.

Will any of that group remain in place of authority? The reason that is a significant question is that recently an executive of Quest Diagnostics asked that certain employees maintain faith in the company based upon the good faith offered in return by management. Indeed, a faith which would very possibly have prevented the success of a unionization move on that company.

But if that management were to vanish then where is the good faith? Of what value is such a thing? It is nothing more than an illusion. So how can the executive continue to ask for a pledge to something which might not in fact any longer exist?

Consider also that a portion of that letter made the specific point that many other companies would simply cut staff without mercy in order to meet a financial target. It sounded good at the time of its writing and in all fairness to the author of that letter; this buy/sellout issue might not have been paramount at the time of writing. It very well might have been an unrecognized factor at the time the letter was written.

But the fact remains that if a new management team enters stage left then there is nothing to suggest that they are not that theoretical company which values profit over people referred to in the letter.

If ownership or management changes hands the company will possibly remain Quest Diagnostics in name only. Clearly financial ownership precedes corporate philosophy. It might very well prove to be that bottom line administration without mercy.

Those who are considering a leveraged buyout of Quest Diagnostics, if indeed there is such an investment group, must consider that any hope of keeping a labor union out of the Teterboro Business Unit is dashed to pieces simply with even the suggestion that such a thing might be taking place.

Even if the effort of a possible leveraged buyout fails it is almost a guarantee that any vote by logistics to organize will prove at this point in time to be a done deal. If and when a labor union is admitted into the picture it will, in my estimation, only be a matter of time before it spreads throughout the entire business unit.

The only thing which has prevented such a thing as unionization up until this moment is that no one has been able to make a valid point that a union might be desirable and of benefit to all Quest Diagnostics employees.

That is not to even begin to suggest that I believe that a union is desirable or beneficial. It simply puts forth an item which demands consideration. It is simply a fact that it is up until now uncharted waters.

But one day someone opened up Pandora’s Box. Without going to lurid detail about that box it is well known that it brought upon the world all of what is evil in society today. And that box can no longer be closed. It might spread from business unit to business unit. It will feed upon the energy of uncertainty as to the future ownership of the company.

So anything which I might have stated to anyone before about the matter of a labor union gaining or not gaining entrance into Quest Diagnostics should, no must be weighed with this new set of buy/sellout factors in mind.

The horse has changed colors and anyone who has any interest in this matter had better understand that. Sadly it might be that executive has lost heart in the vision of a great company of world class status.

It might be that executive has realized that there in no benefit in attempting to fight the likes of United HealthCare and has found an option in which the top of the food chain can bail out with enough to be comfortable at the expense of the bottom feeders. “Not so much you understand, just enough to wet my beak.”

That is a very good formula for building strong loyalty to the brotherhood of a labor union. Unlike the last attempt in which management placed bars on the doors it appears that this time management is content to hold the door wide open for the union representatives as management exits and vacates the premises.

If that is the case then perhaps this elusive investment group might reconsider their side of the issue basing it upon some of the things which I have pointed out for your informed deliberation. The deal, if indeed such a deal does in fact exist, might not look so attractive to any investment group in view of mitigating circumstances.

Consider that what begins as a brush fire of perhaps one hundred fifty people who vote yes to a labor union could rapidly morph into forty thousand people saying union, yes! That is something which should be given serious consideration by any potential buyer before any ink hits any contract.

Since it is the policy of Quest Diagnostics to not discuss the market and valuation issues I can only assume that they will be unable to address this issue with logistics personnel. But unless and until the logistics staff fully understands what the hell is going on, then it is a pretty sure bet that the next sound heard in logistics will be many union cards being signed.
A leveraged buy/sellout of Quest Diagnostics might well be a done deal as has been suggested by more than a few managers, but on the other side of the coin it appears at this point that a labor union is also a done deal in the logistics department of the Teterboro Business Unit.

And for whatever it is worth, right or wrong, good or bad that is a fact. And as Sonny Bono and his lady Cher sang so many years ago, The Beat Goes On! Indeed it appears that it is going to be a brave new world at Quest Diagnostics!
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