Month: November 2013

Chapter 11: Global Aviation’s Second Visit This Year

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There’s a good chance the Chapter 11 filing by Global Aviation Holdings Inc., on Nov. 11, 2013, went unnoticed by most people.  Probably the same amount of attention that its emergence from bankruptcy protection caused this past February.

That’s right – February 2013.

But the company becoming a serial filer isn’t the only thing interesting about the filing by Global, which provides military, cargo, passenger and commercial charter air transportation services through two airlines — World Airways, Inc. and North American Airlines, Inc.  First of all, the Peachtree City, Ga., company provided charter services for the presidential campaigns of President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama.  And, oh yes, the company even flew the Minnesota Vikings to London to play a National Football League game.

For these, and other reasons apparently not linked to its double-dip into Chapter 11, the documents accompanying its bankruptcy filing provide some interesting history – not to mention messaging.

For instance, consider the declaration filed by William A. Garrett, executive vice president and chief financial officer.  “Global Aviation has come to be known as the gold standard in providing safe and high-quality service to the United States military,” Garrett says. He also states that the company has developed a reputation for safe and reliable commercial cargo and passenger services, which it provides to a broad customer base that includes major corporations, domestic and international airlines, logistics companies, presidential campaigns, sports teams, entertainers and production companies.

From a messaging standpoint, of course, this is standard boilerplate stuff that a company would use in good times or bad.  It may be a legal document, but this is PR messaging.

Deeper reading into Garrett’s declaration goes beyond the bumper-sticker descriptions, however.  He notes that Global emerged from its previous visit to Chapter 11 with a go-forward operating strategy where future success would continue reliant on the needs of the military and certain key commercial cargo customers.  With good reason: Global’s World unit operates large, wide-body freighter planes.  And they need to be filled to the top for the company to succeed.

Unfortunately for the company, and what it apparently didn’t see when building that go-forward plan, was that the government would cut back on its demand for World’s services.  On Sept. 30, 2013, the U.S. military apparently surprised the company and others when it announced that significant additional cutbacks would be coming on Dec. 1, 2013.

Oops.  Guess that go-forward strategy forgot the part about broadening out the customer base so the company wouldn’t be so dependent upon a single sector.

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Age-Discrimination: “Willful Violation” Found in CVS Caremark Case

PastedGraphic-1Interesting age-discrimination case against the CVS Caremark pharmacy chain came to an end recently in Alabama and, like the rash of other cases preceding it, demonstrated the cavalier and callous manner in which older Americans regularly are cast aside by their employers.

In this particular case, a two-week trial before U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Hopkins in Anniston, Ala., the jury found that a CVS pharmacy in that town willfully violated the Age Discrimination Employment Act when it fired pharmacist Roger Harris in August 2009 – at the time of his 65th birthday.

Harris had filed the suit against Rhode Island-based CVS Caremark in February 2011, alleging that his supervisor and co-workers created a workplace filled with derogatory remarks regarding his age.  In the suit, Harris said that his supervisor and district manager failed to correct the behavior, and that he later received numerous inaccurate and unfounded reprimands regarding his job performance.

The pharmacist began his effort to fight back when he filed a charge against his employer with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Dec. 1, 2009. However, the case was dismissed in Nov. 23, 2010. He then filed his suit, which an individual is entitled to do 90 days after receiving notice that the EEOC has dismissed his charge.

In the Alabama case, Harris was awarded $400,000 in back pay. Given that the jury concluded CVS’ conduct was willful, the law provides damages in the same amount — $400,000 – as the back pay. The judge, however, has not yet ruled on that element of the jury’s decision.

The timing of Harris’ termination from CVS was particularly interesting, as the termination document was dated August 13, 2009, when the pharmacist was off celebrating his 65th birthday at the beach. When he got back to work, and returned to work on August 17, 2009, he was terminated – and replaced by a 27-year-old who was paid far less than Harris.

Not surprisingly, the company disagreed with the jury decision and is considering an appeal.  “CVS Caremark has a firm non-discrimination policy, and we do not tolerate discrimination in our workplace on the basis of age or any other legally-protected trait,” a spokesperson said.

Harris didn’t “tolerate discrimination” either.  And he, like a growing number of Americans, said “no, you can’t do that to me.”

And the number will continue to grow as long as practices such as these continue.

 

Election Day 2013: Messages, Messages and More Messages

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Another election day.  Another day of winners, losers and pundits driving home carefully rehearsed and thought-out messages.  Some were positive and others were negative.  Some were subtle and others were overt.

But they all had a purpose.  Well, most of them anyway.

And then there was Toronto, where there was no election — but more on that later.

In New Jersey, Republican Gov. Chris Christie, a landslide winner in his reelection campaign, was anything but subtle to speaking to his supporters after his never-in-doubt victory was confirmed.

“If we can do this in Trenton, New Jersey, maybe the folks in Washington, D.C., should tune in their TVs right now and see how it’s done,” he said to a roaring crowd – all of whom understood what he was implying.

Another statement had an interesting dual-meaning message.  “I did not seek a second term to do small things,” the governor said.  “I sought a second term to finish the job – now watch me do it.”

Earlier in the day, while appearing on CNN, Christie carefully burnished his GOP credentials, ensuring that he didn’t move too far away from the Republican right, but also making room for moderates and other who might be fed up with government’s recent behavior.  “I’m a conservative,” he stated.  “The difference has been I haven’t tried to hide it, or mask it as something different.”

Moving south from New Jersey to Virginia, the Republicans lost an opportunity to hold onto the statehouse when state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s strident hard-right approach drove females to the voting booth to support Terry McAuliffe, a less-than-powerhouse candidate who nevertheless had a huge lead heading into election day.

Interestingly, however, the Obamacare website fallout gave Cuccinelli a last-minute reprieve, which caused him to move to a new message (“If you want to send a message to Washington and vote no on Obamacare, I need your vote”).  To his credit, the messaging change nearly did the impossible, and narrowed McAulilffe’s ultimate victory to a sliver.

In Houston, Annisse Parker, the first openly gay politician elected mayor of a major U.S. city, won her third two-year term.  Realizing that simple messaging often works best, she told a news conference why she won: “If the city weren’t doing so well, I would not be standing here tonight.”  Importantly, even while sounding humble, her message enabled the mayor to put the economic gains in her win column and probably strengthens her hand for planned third-term initiatives.

In New York City, meanwhile, it was very clear that the past 20 years of conservatism under Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg are coming to a sudden end.  Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who made it very clear through the campaign that he would stop the police department’s controversial stop-and frisk campaign, won a resounding victory.  His message: “Make no mistake, the people of this city have chosen a progressive path.”

Finally, although there weren’t any elections in Toronto this week, there are a lot of people who probably wish one had been scheduled.  We did have some unique messaging nevertheless.  Toronto Mayor Rob Ford finally admitted that he had smoked crack cocaine, adding that it occurred “in one of my drunken stupors.”

Equally interesting was his comment associated with the fact he wants to get the video from the police so he determine what exactly took place.

“I want to see what state I was in,” he said.

Well, actually, mayor, your message is a bit off.  It wasn’t a state.  It was a province.