Stanadyne should be more open

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, March 3, 2009

By Staff
Stanadyne Corp. laid off workers at all three of its U.S. plants, including its Washington facility, at the end of January. That’s sad news anytime, but it’s especially harsh news during a recession.
The layoffs were bad enough, but a bad situation was made worse when Stanadyne officials tried to hush up the layoffs — as if the laid-off workers wouldn’t eventually leak the facts.
Stanadyne executives were perfectly within their rights not to talk about the layoffs, but when confronted, they also refused to say how many workers lost their jobs.
By keeping tight-lipped — presumably in hopes news of the layoffs wouldn’t get out — Stanadyne’s corporate honchos violated the first rule of Public Relations 101: Reveal bad news immediately, then deal with the consequences.
Companies that go out of their way to be transparent are usually praised and respected for their honesty and forthrightness. Companies that don’t lose their credibility.
Furthermore, secrecy promotes rumors and hampers the ability of the community to help those who have lost their jobs. The area has dozens of community groups, churches, Ruritan clubs, Rotary clubs, Red Men lodges and a host of others ready and willing to help the unemployed, but they have to know there’s a need.
Federal law requires notification of mass layoffs, but even with a supposedly “small” number of layoffs, companies should go beyond the letter of the law. That means notifying communities about job losses so individuals and social-service organizations can prepare for the sudden unemployment and resulting needs.
That’s the company’s moral obligation, regardless of legal status.
The company’s director of human resources, Jean McCarthy, said Stanadyne wants the economy to turn around so it can rehire laid-off workers, but she noted the uncertain future of the economy.
Isn’t that the truth.
Here’s what our crystal ball tell us: The economy’s probably going to get worse before it rebounds, so if area companies are forced to layoff more workers, please let us know. Knowing our county’s economy is hurting isn’t nearly as harmful as thinking it’s healthy when it isn’t.