Sugar Workers Claim Stock Plan Was A Cheat
New York Times:
Thousands of workers at U.S. Sugar thought they were getting a good deal when the company shelved their pension plan and gave them stock for their retirement instead. They had a heady sense of controlling their own destiny as they became the company's biggest shareholders, Vic McCorvey, a former farm manager there, said.
"It was always stressed to me, as manager of that 20,000-acre farm, that the better you do, the higher your stock will be and the more retirement you could get," Mr. McCorvey said. "That's why I worked six and seven days a week, 14 hours a day," slogging through wet and buggy cane fields, doing whatever it took.
Now that many U.S. Sugar workers are reaching retirement age, though, the company has been cashing them out of the retirement plan at a much lower price than they could have received. Unknown to them, an outside investor was offering to buy the company -- and their shares -- for far more. Long-time employees say they have lost out on tens of thousands of dollars each and millions of dollars as a group, while insiders of the company came out ahead.
Some former U.S. Sugar employees have since filed a lawsuit accusing company insiders of cheating them out of money due to them. Throughout, the worker-owners have been shut out of information about the company's finances and unable to challenge management's moves or vote because their shares are held through a retirement plan, not directly.