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"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." - Edmund Burk

All Hands Meetings - 2003

Employee Advocate - – May 19, 2003

Many All Hands Meetings have been conducted at Duke nuclear sites by the site VP’s. Since 2002 was the best year ever in the Nuclear Department, the VP’s had much to talk about. But since 2002 was a disastrous year for the get-rich-quick departments, that aspect could not be ignored. VP’s were put in the position of trying to explain what happen in areas that they have zero control over.

As usual, the management hierarchy was covered. One employee noted the some members of management were missing from the line up. It was explained that certain former members of management had aggressively pursued certain areas in a manner that no longer met the company’s goals.

How’s that for tiptoeing around an issue? In other words, energy trading and the merchant power business is, for all practical purposes, dead in the water. As a result a few heads rolled.

Employees reported that someone asked if Duke was going to do anything for the employees to compensate them for their staggering 401 (k) losses. The answer was that no one knew of anything. The incredulous employee wanted to know if management had even considered the idea. Again, no one knew of anything being considered, but management said that they would get back with him on it.

Some employees have 401 (k) values that are down 50 to 60%. Their only hope of compensation is the employee 401 (k) lawsuit. Bear in mind, this is not merely a charge or an investigation; the suit was filed in 2002; motions continue to be filed. Several competent law firms are representing the employees’ interests.

It was suggested that employees ask themselves what they could do to correct the current perception of Duke Energy. If the current perception is 100 percent correct, then absolutely nothing should be done to distort it! If employees start lying for management, it would only prove that no one in the company is capable of telling the truth. These “perceptions” did not happen by accident. They happened because of greed.

A video was shown of Duke Power President Ruth Shaw. She encouraged employees to find out the facts about the company. We could not agree with her more! Of course, one cannot expect all the facts to be presented in Duke press releases. If one examines a wide range of news sources, the true pattern will emerge.

Ms. Shaw began beating the old “ambassador of good will” drum. She is clinging to the outdated belief that no matter how badly the company is mismanaged, the employees can make it all better by covering for them.

An ambassador falls into line with a spokesperson, lobbyist, salesman, agent, front-man, broker, politician, or perhaps a carnival barker. In practice, more often than not, they are paid liars. The employee ambassadorship, as one might expect, is an unpaid position.

Many employees will respond to the higher calling of Ambassador of Truth. Management's credibility rating is about zero. No one wants to be labeled an apologist for this group. If the full truth is laid out, things will get sorted out, one way or another. Hiding issues, deception, clouding, coloring, misinforming, creating diversions, and smoke screens are part of the problem. More of the same will never solve anything.

Instead of always trying to get employees to cover for them, why doesn’t management just clean up its act?

If management is clean and keeps its word, employees will be happy to relay this to the public. If management is conniving, back-stabbing, and excessively greedy, employees will be more than delighted to relay these facts as well.

What if a neighbor asks if his son should go to work for Duke? Some years ago, an employee may have said that Duke was a great company to work for, with many benefits. Now, the same employee may suggest that employment be sought elsewhere. As the employee explained how pension benefits were spirited away and objections were met with denials, a true “perception” would begin to form. When it was explained that retirement health care vanished overnight, who would be thrilled about seeking employment with such a company? Workers know first hand what the company is capable of doing when it comes to grabbing money. Duke was not straight with the employees. Why should anyone give management the benefit of the doubt regarding any of the other numerous charges? They all involve the common dominator of greed.

Ms. Shaw can try to project her problems onto the employees. Others in management have tried this act of desperation. It did not work for them; it will not work for her. The load falls back on those in top level management who created the original problems.

During the break, employees were discussing Ms. Shaw’s delivery of the well worn ambassador nugget. During that statement, her body language told more that her words ever could have. She was stuttering, her eyes were shifting and glassy, and her movements were jerky. These are not the signs of a person who is confident about what she is saying. When one mouths words that their mind does not believe, the body will often expose them.

And another thing – the media cannot be blamed for all of Duke’s problems! The media is disinterested in Duke’s welfare. There is no ax to grind. The media goes where the story is. If the media is camped on your front door, there is a reason. Seldom will clouds of smoke billow for years, with absolutely no flame being present. There are real problems that cannot be blamed on the employees or the media. If management keeps looking for the root cause, they may eventually stumble into a mirror.

Ms. Shaw stated that executives feel the Duke criticism personally. Well good! This is exactly as it should be. Employees should not be feeling any criticism. The media should not be feeling any criticism. It took years, but the chickens may have finally come home to roost.

This revelation is like someone who has been hit in the head with a sledgehammer for six years. All of the sudden the person says “I think someone is trying to tell me something.” Bingo!

Senior management tried to deny the criticism for years. It did not work. They tried to project it onto others, but that did not work. They played the outrage card. That did not work. They tried to ignore the criticism to death, but it did not die. They tried to paper it over with media ads and propaganda, without success. They have even tried to blame everything on “market conditions.” That certainly did not work. There is one thing that management has not tried – accepting responsibility!

What happens if management accepts responsibility? One of two things can happen. Executives can sit around and feel sorry for themselves or they can clean up their act.

Duke once put out a statement that they were going to change the employees or change the employees. It is time for this statement to boomerang right back to management. Management will change or management will change. Investors, employees, and customers do not really care just how the matter is resolved. The failures of the last six years will not be allowed to continue indefinitely.

9/11 - All Hands Meetings - 2002

Employee Advocate – – September 11, 2002

Site vice presidents have conducted All Hands Meetings at various times during the year. The meetings have been staggered widely from site to site, with varying formats. At least one site has monthly departmental All Hands Meetings in addition to site-wide All Hands Meetings. It is fitting that this report is being posted on the anniversary of the 9/11 suicide attacks, as you will see.

It was reported that a MorganStanley representative tried to shed light on the cash balance plan fiasco at some meetings. He said that some employees can still retire under to old plan and have health coverage. He indicated that your monthly statement does not reflect the actual amount of you account. Well, that’s just peachy! Everything else about the cash balance plan has been misrepresented; why should the statements be right?

Evidently Duke is still trying to sell the cash balance pig to the employees. There are probably few employees left who have a choice of plans. Everyone else will have the treacherous cash balance plan forced upon them. Their promised retirement health care flew out the window shortly after the cash balance pig was thrown in.

For those who have filed cash balance plan age discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (1-800-669-4000), the cases are still active. The EEOC plays their cards very close to their vest. But they do have a very big hammer, if they choose to use it. And, Duke Energy is looking more like a nail every day!

The length of some meeting were cut almost in half. The meals provided at these meetings were also cut back to sandwiches. That worked out great. Getting less food for attending a shorter meeting is a good deal anytime! And, for an added bonus, the shorter meetings left no time for silly games.

Jet Attacks on Nuclear Reactors

One site vice president said that he was sick of hearing about the possibility of a jet crashing into a nuclear reactor building. It is unfortunate that hearing about this very real prospect has made him ill. Just imagine how sick he would be if a jetliner were to actually crash into one of his reactor buildings. How nauseous would he become if seven jetliners crashed into seven reactor building? It is not an impossibility. Today is the first anniversary of the terrorist hijacking of four U. S. jetliners. All were crashed, with three of them hitting major targets. Add to that the fact that certain terrorist groups have stated for years that they want to hit a nuclear target in America. If fact, reports released just this week by the BBC, and others, reveal that U. S. nuclear plants were the original targets of the 9/11 attack! That makes it tad more difficult for Duke to pretend that no threat exists.

Al-Qaida Considered Attacking Nuclear Facilities

Nuclear Plants Were First Choice on 9/11

Nuclear Plants First Option for Sept 11

”We Will Hit All U.S. Nuclear Targets”

We generally do not make market predictions. But we will go out on a limb this time: After such an attack, the price of DUK would probably not go up. The term free-fall comes to mind. Depending upon the damage, lakefront property could possibly become very reasonably priced – as in – no takers to be found.

Nuclear Code Red

Those who think that a plane cannot be hijacked today are deluding themselves. The tightened security at airports is still not foolproof. Passengers have flown on planes with knives and loaded guns. And, the many security improvements made at nuclear plants do little to protect from an air strike.

In an attempt to quell the notion of a terrorist plane crash causing a meltdown, a video clip was shown of a fighter jet, on rails, crashing into a simulated reactor building wall.

The jet vaporized, leaving a four inch crater in the simulated reactor wall. Employees were told to go home and tell their neighbors that a jet cannot hurt a nuclear reactor building.

The demonstration was very impressive. The only problem was that it had about a zero relationship with the actual terrorist threat.

One small detail was overlooked in the demonstration: Kamikaze terrorist do not use fighter jets. The weapon of choice is a Boeing 767, fully loaded with fuel.

It may be somewhat harder to hijack a commercial jet nowadays, but can you imagine an enterprising terrorist breezing into a military installation and commandeering a fighter jet? His life expectancy could be measured in nanoseconds. Suicide pilots are certainly not afraid to die, but they do want to live long enough to complete their mission. Plus, as awesome as a fighter jet is, it just does not pack the wallop of a 767.

The fighter jet traveled down the rails and into a wall section at approximately 400 MPH. The 767 cruises at over 500 MPH. And, there is just no comparison between a fighter jet and a 767 in weight and fuel capacity.

If a person made such a ludicrous statement due to lack of knowledge, it could be dismissed as mere ignorance. But some management types making such statements have engineering backgrounds. They know their statements have no credibility. They are banking that the public does not know the difference. And, evidently, they are banking on incredibly ignorant employees also.

Duke is, once again, attempting to define the issue. Duke has said that a jetliner cannot penetrate a reactor wall and cause a meltdown. Here is a flyer: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has stated that the reactor building does not even have to be hit by the plane to cause a meltdown! The NRC further stated that it is unknown if a 767 can penetrate a reactor wall. Who would be more likely to tell the truth – Duke or the NRC? Hint: The NRC is not trying to sell stock.

Crashing Planes and Meltdowns

Nuclear Plants Not Designed to Stop Jetliners

Rest assured that any terrorist attempting this stunt will know the weakest point of the reactor building and the optimum trajectory to employ.

The whole matter of a meltdown is really almost immaterial. If one jet hits one reactor, it could sound the death knell for the nuclear industry in America – meltdown or no meltdown. Everyone knows that nuclear reactors are capable of meltdowns. If the first strike does not cause a meltdown, will the public be content to wait and see what happens with subsequent strikes?

No meltdown is required to attack the on-site spent nuclear fuel. So, the invincibility to meltdowns pontifications are really just to confuse the issue.

Target: Nuclear Waste

Employees reported that Mike Tuckman, Vice President of Nuclear Generation, graced some of the meetings. Mr. Tuckman has previously published statements in “Team Nuclear,” attempting to minimize the danger of plane attacks on nuclear reactors. One of his arguments is that reactor buildings are smaller than the World Trade Center buildings were, and would be a harder target to hit. He indicated that he did not think that a plane would penetrate the reactor shell if it did hit it.

This is a lot like someone telling you that you were going to be shot, but not to worry about it, because a cheap, small caliber handgun would be used. It might even miss you. If it hit you, you might survive anyway. Never mind that you would still be a target of a lethal weapon!

There are several reasons why Duke’s reactors may even be the most tempting nuclear targets of all:

  • An airport close by means less time to scramble fighter jets.

  • If MOX fuel is used, as proposed, it would cause any meltdown to be even more catastrophic.

  • The design of the two Duke plants earmarked to use MOX fuel will increase risk, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and others.

    Charlotte, N.C., Nuclear Plants' Design Causes Concern

  • People were arrested in Charlotte, North Carolina and accused of supporting Hezbollah. Terrorist may feel that a score needs to be settled in Duke’s area.

    Expert Says Hezbollah in Charlotte, N. C.

  • A spokesperson stated that planes cannot hurt Duke’s reactors and a terrorist would be an “idiot” to attack one. Why not just waive a red flag in front of a bull?

    Nuclear Smoke and Mirrors

Everything eventually gets back to the bottom line. Duke is loathed to admit anything that may have any negative affect on the price of stock. An obsession with the price of stock is exactly the cause of problems in other areas.

With all the speculating that has taken place, no one has mentioned what happens to the employees at a nuclear site when the plane hits. Duke took away the nuclear premium pay years ago. (Some received other compensation; others received nothing.) Now, it looks as if hazardous duty pay would be more in order!

For those who think that now airport security is airtight, check out the links below:

FBI, INS Bust Airport Fake ID Scheme

Reporters Test Airport Security

28 Falsified Data for Airport Access

Gun Carried Through Airport Security

81 Arrested for Fake ID Use

If a suicide terrorist crashes a jetliner into any nuclear plant anywhere in the world, it will be a bad day for all concerned. Employees, the affected company, the public, and the industry will all suffer. Only the extent of the damage will govern the degree of suffering.

Refusing to give the public a true assessment of the dangers only erodes more credibility. And, corporate credibility is already in very short supply today.

'All Hands' Meetings - Two - 2001

Duke Energy Employee Advocate -

A second round of All Hands meetings have been held at various Duke locations.

Several employees reported that a site vice president was asked about the status of the cash balance plan age discrimination charges, that were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They reported that the vice president tried to downplay the whole issue. It is hoped that no one was really surprised by this.

His answer was that the EEOC had been holding the charges and did not know what to do with them. He reportedly indicated that if the charges had any merit, the EEOC would have already acted upon them.

If the charges were clearly without merit, the EEOC would not have accepted them in the first place. The fact that the EEOC waived the age limit in filing the charges should make it clear that an investigation was clearly warranted! The EEOC attempts to settle charges within six months. If charges take longer than this, it seems to indicate that a more thorough investigation is being conducted. Those who have dealt with the EEOC before say that the longer an investigation takes, the better.

At meeting between EEOC officials and employees in 1999, it was stated that the cash balance plan age discrimination charge is the number one priority of the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Charlotte District. Ask yourself if that sounds like a charge with no merit!


For someone in management to complain that the investigation is taking a long time is very interesting. It is a lot like someone with their head in a guillotine complaining because the blade has not fallen yet!

The EEOC never made any promises to anyone, other than to investigate the issue. They have many options to take.

The EEOC has already offered those who have filed age discrimination charges a “right to sue” letter. The rules have been liberalized since that time. Now, anyone who has had an EEOC charge filed for at least six-months can sue in federal court without the right to sue letter.

Employees of several companies have won pension cases recently. The main case we were watching was the Onan case. The employees won that case also. As precedents continue to be established in the employees favor, time is on our side. If management is complaining about the length of time that the EEOC is taking, that only verifies that our course is sound.

Just how many legal matters have you seen that were settled overnight? The simplest issue can take years to be resolved. And, the cash balance issue far from being simple. The EEOC knew the issue would be complex, but it turned out to be even more convoluted than they ever imagined.

We met with an EEOC investigator only a few weeks ago. He said that the cash balance determination was too big for any field office. He said that it would come directly from Washington. All cash balance charges have been forwarded to Washington. The issues were so involved that the EEOC had to hire actuaries to help decipher the plans.

The EEOC is not investigating only one charge against one company. Over a thousand charges have been filed against many companies. Any decision must take all of these cases into account. Also, the EEOC is working with the IRS, Treasury Department, GAO, and Department of Labor. Ideally, any action will have the concurrence of all of the federal agencies. You can see that any hasty action that does not consider all the different employee situations, all existing laws, and all agencies would not be prudent. Let the EEOC have all the time necessary.

If management was interested in a fast resolution, they could have provide the pension information that the EEOC requested in a more timely manner. True to form, Duke stonewalled, and did not promptly provide the information. They could not play this game forever, and had to eventually turn over the data. Duke prefers to control all situations. They want to drag their feet when it suits their purpose. At other times they scream for fast action. Rest assured that Duke is not controlling this investigation. It will be conducted the way the EEOC sees fit.

When a site vice president is asked for an opinion, they give just that – an opinion. It may or may not be a well reasoned opinion, or even one based on facts. In fact, much misinformation has been spread through All Hands meetings. In 1999, a VP said that the age discrimination charge was brought by someone who wanted to make a bunch of money off of the company. He said that no one was going to get any money, except the lawyers.

Such statements are contrived to play upon the widespread distrust that many people feel about the legal system. It is irrelevant how one feels about the legal system; non-combatants lose by default. Those who use the legal system may lose; those who refuse to use it have already lost!

The idea of “making” a lot of money off of the company is preposterous. If the employees are awarded any settlement, it will just be money being returned to them. If a person were to steal $200,000 from you, and the courts made them return it, your net profit would be zero. Getting money returned that was unjustly taken from you is not “making” money. It is breaking even. Doing nothing is locking in the loss forever!

As to the statement that the only ones making money would be the lawyers, consider that the EEOC does not charge for its services. You have already pre-paid for this service through your tax dollars. The service is available for employees to use, but there is no obligation to use it. Anyone who has questions about the EEOC should call 1-800-669-4000, and ask to speak to an investigator.

Even if one filed suit through a private law firm, the case would likely be taken on a contingency basis. If you did not win, you would owe nothing. The law firm would only collect a percentage of the settlement if they were successful. Is there anything unfair about this? The law firm would cover all the cost of litigation (not cheap). They would only get paid if they won. The employees could only recover money or break even. Which would you rather have, seventy percent, or so, of your lost pension or zero percent? Even those without advanced degrees in mathematics can figure this one out!

VP’s are company spokespeople. You can ask them questions for fun. But, realize that the answers will always be skewed in the company’s favor. If the truth were known, VP's want their promised retirement benefits back also. They want their retirement health coverage back. VP’s are employees too, and we will do everything possible to see that they get back what they were promised.

In some meetings, the “need to attract and retain employees in this tight labor market” was mentioned. Excuse us, but about five years ago, the company indicated that employees were not valued, and that no attempts would be made to retain them. The company was interested in the “mobile workforce.” Management evidently had the illusion that anyone off the street could replace the employee with twenty years of experience. It is true that an experienced employee can be replaced by anyone; just do not expect identical performance. The learning curve can be expensive. Now, it seems that management has changed their tune – again.

Is the new philosophy to retain employees by taking away the benefits that were designed to retain them? If half of what management says, contradicts the other half, the total value of their words is always zero. As far as attracting new employees goes, new graduates do not live in a vacuum. They are aware of the companies that provide outstanding benefits. They are also aware of the companies that keep chiseling away at their employee’s benefits. Why on earth would a top graduate even consider working for such a company? Top graduates know that companies that lie to long term employee will do the same to them. Certain areas of the company’s operation are dying. Duke is in a position where new employees do not want to enter, and the existing employees have been alienated. Future generations will read about these management decisions in their MBA textbooks. They will be listed under the “Bad Examples” column. Companies that offer cheap benefits will get the employees that were passed over by the top companies. They will get what they were willing to pay for.

In some meetings, Harvey Padewer’s “Six Rules of the Road” were mentioned. Mr. Padewer is the Group President of Energy Services. (Mr. Padewer seems to get quoted a lot; don’t be surprised if he is the next CEO.)

The first rule is make your numbers; do what you say you will do.

Uh-oh! Problem! Doing what you say you will do mean following through with promises. The employee who was lied to for twenty-five years about his retirement benefits will tell you that Duke does not do what they say they will do. If the employees cannot trust Duke, who else possibly can?

A recent article stated that Enron was good at making their numbers. Where is Enron now? It seems that a little more is involved that just making numbers. If the numbers are made by lying, cheating, and reneging on promises, then they are worthless. The end does not justify the means!

The second rule is to grow.

The same principle applies. If growth is achieved at the expense of integrity, then no growth has been realized. The company has actually shrunk in all things important.

Growing in character was even mentioned! Why not open a can of alphabet soup and sling its contents at the audience. The words are slung out, but they are meaningless!

The third rule is to protect the name Duke Energy.

That’s a bit like locking the barn door after the horse has escaped. Duke traded their good name for unprecedented profits, by any means possible. Only too late did they realize that what they lost was worth far more than their short term profits. Now, they are trying to buy their reputation back. But full page “feel good” ads will never buy it back. Meaningless affirmations will not buy it back. The name that took almost 100 years to build was trashed in only five. Duke is beginning to comprehend just what they lost. But they are clueless on how to even begin to make a recovery. The first step is to correct past sins. Duke has yet to even admit them!

The fourth rule is synergy.

There is synergy among the employees. Senior management is excluded from this synergy. Employees know that senior management is looking out for only senior management.

The fifth rule is respect.

Know this: Respect can only be earned; it can never be commanded.

The sixth rule is to have fun.

Mr. Padewer exercised options for 298,450 shares of Duke Energy stock, in his last trade that was reported by Yahoo. The proceed were almost $3 million. This was only his last reported insider trade. It is much easier for him to have fun that the employees who faces a bleak retirement future. The employee who was promised a specific retirement amount and health coverage will now get a laughable retirement amount and zero health coverage.

Mr. Padewer has suggested that if one is not happy, that they should leave the company. But this would make things a tad too easy for the tyrants. If all run away, none are left to fight. And, it just so happens that fighting lies and injustice make some employees deliriously happy! Where else could they find such unlimited opportunities?

Mr. Padewer did not cause the problems that the company is facing. But his “half-dozen rules,” do not even remotely address the real problems.

The security force was recognized for their work in protecting the nuclear plants. The security officers do a good job. But bear in mind, that they can only be effective in the specific areas that they were trained and equipped for.

In one meeting, an employee asked if the security of the dry cask storage area was going to be increased, due to the possibility of a terrorist plane attack opening one of the casks.

You will love the answer. The reply was that airplanes are designed to be light (“they designed them to be light so that they can fly”)! The VP did not think that the risk to the dry casks from plane attacks was very high. It was also mentioned that the dry casks would be hard to hit.

The attacks in September were carried out by trained pilots. Pilots are trained to land on runways. Runways are not 100 miles wide. But if they only hit a modern day portable outhouse, it would be a public relations disaster. The fallout would carryover to all nuclear plants in the USA, and perhaps other countries. To downplay the threat as trivial is ludicrous.

Using the analogy that planes must be built light to fly, we suppose that aircraft carriers are built light, so that they can float on water! We feel better now. Nuclear fuel dry storage casks are safe from attacks from attacks by airliners and aircraft carriers.

Plane are built as light as practically possible. They are constructed out of aluminum, rather than lead. According to, The basic 767-300 has a maximum takeoff weight of 345,000 pounds. Not exactly an ultra-light. The 767-300ER can take off at 412,000 pounds! The paint on a typical 767 weighs 400 pounds. The extended-range models carries up to 24,140 gallons of fuel. They can cruise at 530 miles per hour. It is true that these planes were not designed to be weapons. But even so, at potentially over 400,000 pounds, carrying possibly 24,000 gallons of fuel, and traveling at a speed of 530 MPH makes for an extremely lethal combination. And, this is not mere speculation. After September 11, everyone knows what these planes are capable of doing, in the hands of terrorist.

A VP mentioned that some want to install anti-aircraft guns at nuclear plants. He said that the guns “might solve the Canadian geese problem.”

Duke has created most of their own problems. They did not create the threat of terrorism. But trivializing the dangers will not make them go away.

A short film clip, “The Power of One,” was shown. It show single activists taking on corporations and even armies. It showed Mahatma Gandhi, who peacefully opposed the British army. It showed an environmental activist stopping a bulldozer by standing in front of it. It showed the unarmed man in Tinniman Square defying tanks. It showed scenes from civil rights activism.

We were somewhat puzzled as to why Duke would show such a film clip. Does Duke not realize that they are the British army. They are the bulldozers. They are the military tanks. Duke represents oppression, total control, and the power of monetary influence.

Again, why would they show the clip? Evidently, someone in the organization does not like the direction the company is going in. For someone in management to stand up to Duke’s iron hand, would be virtual suicide. But yet, someone added the clip to the program. We never said that everyone in Duke management was rotten to the core.

'All Hands' Meetings 2001

Duke Energy Employee Advocate -

Site vice presidents have held “All Hands” meetings for 2001. All employees must be indoctrinated with the correct spin on all company capers.

The “old” Duke Power Company was mentioned. In 1996 negotiations were started to purchase Pan Energy. That is also the year that it was announced that the retirement plan would also be destroyed for most employees. On January 1, 1997, most employees were forced into a cash balance pension plan. The same year Pan Energy was purchased and Duke Energy was formed. Does that not sound like a little more than a coincidence? Does this sound like a carefully crafted scheme to finance the merger with the employees promised retirement benefits?

Some believe the pension conversion was to finance the merger. Some believe the conversion was to offset the cost of asbestosis settlements. Whatever the reason, the executives are doing better than ever, and the employees have less than ever. The employee who has been taken to the cleaners with the pension conversion is just not too impressed with “EBIT,” “ROE,” or any other of the alphabet soup terms bantered about by senior management. To such an employee, EBIT could possibly mean “Employees Benefits In Trash.” ROE could mean “Run Over Employees.”

It was said that Duke Energy has a whole set of new owners. That must mean that all of the old stockholders dumped the stock. Duke has positioned itself on a financial treadmill that it cannot get off of. Duke Energy stock used to be considered a safe stock for “widows and orphans.” One might not break the bank with it, but one would not likely suffer huge losses with it either. The “old” investors who bought the stock would hold it through thick and thin. They typically had little interest in trying to time the market. Most were happy with the substantial dividends and the stability the stock offered. The “hot money” crowd that Duke is lusting after holds no allegiance to Duke Energy. Those who buy the stock to make a quick buck will sell it even quicker for the slightest of reasons. Duke is now in the trap of having to promise this crowd more and more, hoping to prevent a mass dumping of the stock. That is why Duke is now “promising” growth of 10 to 15 percent a year. Employees stuck with cash balance pension plans know what a Duke promise is really worth. We know where the company always looks to first for money to give away – the employee benefits!

It was said that Duke Energy can now get bigger and make more money. That’s nice. Benefits are getting smaller and employees get to work an extra 10 years to make up for pension losses. No matter how many different ways Duke attempts to explain away the issue, it stinks to high heaven! Duke Energy senior management has many years of experience in spin doctoring, but they will never be able to spin this one away.

The MOX fuel program is not proceeding smoothly. The MOX program has been a disaster from day one. Perhaps it will be cancelled before it becomes a real disaster.

Projected attrition is coupled with hiring to keep the “optimum” number of employees at each plant. The same problem exists with management’s thinking. They see employees as beans. They think that if they lose 100 beans and replace them with 100 new beans, no change has occurred. They have yet to grasp the concept that no matter how competent the new bean is, 20 or 30 years of experience cannot be acquired overnight. Relying solely on bean counting has cost the company in the past and will continue to cost them.

Employees were told that the energy problem in California was all the governor’s fault for not signing long-term contracts. Duke was going to save the day by convincing him to enter such contracts. Well, guess what? The contracts were signed. There is now a glut of power in California, but the ratepayers are not seeing any relief. They are now stuck with paying the relatively high prices of the long-term contracts! The Charlotte Observer published this statement: “Although California power prices fell during the second quarter, Duke Energy's average charge rose.” Duke has played the California ratepayers like a fiddle.

Duke's Calif. Prices Up as Overall Charges Drop

Here is a good one from another meeting: A site vice president wanted to spur some questions, so he asked an older employee what he had on his mind. The employee said that he was concerned about all the changes made to the retirement program and how they would affect his future. Oops! That was not the question that he wanted to hear. He would have rather babbled on about EBIT and ROE. He did his best to dance around the question. He finally told the employee that the pension losses he would take may allow the company to pay a young new-hire fifty-cents more per hour! We rest our case.

'All Hands' Meetings 2000

Duke Energy Employee Advocate -

"All Hands" meetings have been occurring again. Do you think we could ever have just a simple meeting? Do you think we could ever have a meeting just to share relevant information, if any? No! That is never the case. Each meeting must have a "theme," complete with decorations and sometimes silly games. But when someone is trying to "sell" you something that is not in your best interest, distraction can sometimes be effective.

In one meeting the question was asked if Rick Priory was under a different incentive program than other employees. The answer was "Yes." It was further stated that Duke has a "rainbow" of incentive plans. You already know that Mr. Priory is under a different cash balance retirement plan. Many employees, if not most, will lose significant money under the cash balance plan. Rick Priory was awarded over a third of a million dollars as a supplement to his executive cash balance plan.

In some meetings a video was shown: "We Are Ready." Don't you hate the introduction clips to most of Duke's homemade videos? An endless stream of images are superimposed over one another. If the meeting does not give you a headache, the introduction clip certainly will. The video started, the scrambled images were flickering, the music was blaring, the 30 to 60 seconds seemed like an hour. When the intro clip was over, the video was over! That's right. The entire video consisted of the intro clip!

Think about it; this is consistent with the direction Duke has been moving in. A homemade 30 second video has got to be CHEAP. Hopefully, the natural progression will be to 30 second meetings.

'All Hands' Meetings 1999

Duke Energy Employee Advocate -

Site VP's have been conducting meetings to explain senior management's game plan. Sorry, but we have already figured out senior management's game plan: "take as much as possible from the employees; give as much as possible to senior management." We have received reports from various meetings. At many of the meetings, questions were asked about the EEOC cash balance plan charge. At some of the first meetings, the position of Duke Energy was total denial (no laws were broken). As the meetings progressed, the position of Duke Energy became a little weaker (the courts have not decided the legalities). There was more back peddling at the final meetings (if Duke Energy broke any laws, they would do what was right). Translation: Duke Energy will do exactly what it is forced to do for the employees and no more. One of the VP's said that we could work it out among ourselves and that we did not need a third party. How many times have you heard that one before? They always roll that one out during unionization threats. After the threat has passed, they always take back whatever little biscuit that was tossed out. Work it out among ourselves? How many of you were consulted before the cash balance plan was dropped on us? When asked about the cash balance plan just last month, Rick Priory said "...We are not considering changing that decision." So if anyone is wanting to "work it out among ourselves," it is due solely to senior management's fear of the justice that third party involvement may bring. Don't fall for this one again. We need all the help from all the "third parties" we can get! The Oconee VP has been reading Napoleon Hill. He wants employees to have a "burning desire" for improvement. We already have a "burning desire." A burning desire to get our pension and retirement health coverage back! One employee asked what happened to all the retirement money we lost. The answer was "there's not any." Wait a minute; we lost millions, if not billions, of retirement money and it just evaporated? How many swallowed that one? It is said that to get to the bottom of things, follow the money. We intend to do just that. Some of the meetings were a hoot and much sport could be made of them. But the reality is really sad. The VP's were being video taped and had to stick to the company script no matter what their true feeling were. We are certain that the answers given by some of the VP's really tore at their insides. Cheer up VP's; we will try to get you retirement benefits restored also.

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