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Fatal Accident at Duke Energy DevelopmentEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – December 18, 2005
The Charlotte Observer reported that a man was killed Tuesday in a construction accident at the Overlook subdivision on Mountain Island Lake. This is a lakefront subdivision built by Duke Energy real estate division, Crescent Resources.
The man was trapped under a piece of construction equipment. The ambulance crew arrived at 11:15 a.m. and determined that the man was dead.
180 Million Reasons to Promote a MergerEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – December 16, 2005
The Carolina Industrial Group for Fair Utility Rates wants a bigger cut of the savings from the Duke Energy merger with Cinergy, according to The Charlotte Observer. Consultant Nick Phillips said "Duke will keep 84 percent of the total savings. In my view, that is inadequate and just not a fair share."
Some will really mop up on the merger – the Cinergy executives. They will take home more than $180 million in severance packages!
23 Million Reasons to Promote a MergerEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – December 14, 2005
Cinergy CEO Jim Rogers is touting the merger to the N.C. Utilities Commission. He has every reason to promote the merger – 23 million reasons – according to BusinessWeek. No one stands to benefit more from the merger than he does.
But first, he tried to sell the merger to Charlotte Observer reporter Stan Choe. Duke Energy executives blame the press for everything – absolutely everything! But when they want free publicity to sell an agenda, they come to the reporters, with hat in hand, every time.
Mr. Rogers was asked if he was worried about the Duke Energy scandals that have taken place over the past few years.
Do you think he said he was deeply worried about the scandals, and the implied lack of integrity, or not worried at all?
You’re right; Mr. Rogers said “I'm not worried, because that's in the past. I'm not worried because I believe (Duke CEO and Chairman) Paul Anderson has done a great job of righting the ship and getting a clear focus.”
That is true, except for the biggest scandal of all: The Duke Energy raid on employees’ pensions and health benefits.
Mr. Rogers rolled out the Duke Energy Charter as the cure for everything, saying “It makes it clear to people what it's all about: conducting our business with stewardship and integrity.”
But the Charter and Code of Business Ethics are both bogus. It is just not possible to claim to have great integrity, while exploiting every shady area of the law to deny employees of the deferred compensation that they have earned.
If Duke Energy is going to cling for dear life to the cash balance plan, it should trash the Charter and Code of Business Ethics. It is much better to make no claims of being ethical, than to make claims that are untrue.
On the post merger “downsizing,” Mr. Rogers said “My focus is on giving people choices.”
And, Cinergy employees were given a choice of pension plans. Its unionized employees had a choice of the promised, decent pension plan or a cash balance plan. It is no surprise that the bulk of Cinergy employees chose the decent pension plan that they had been promised all along. Cinergy’s pension conversion was much more ethical than the one by Duke Energy. Mr. Rogers does have 23 million reasons to want to merge with Duke Energy, but enhancing ethics cannot possibly be one of them!
Mr. Rogers was asked how he found his visits to the Carolinas.
Do you think he said he finds the people to be stupid, ugly, and rude or that he absolutely adores them?
Right again; he said “But everyone I've met has been very nice, very welcoming and very friendly.”
Of course, the obligatory question was asked about Paul Anderson’s PT Cruiser, with flames on it. Duke Energy executives have been in a tizzy over the car since day one. The flamed car has been a hot issue among Duke wheels.
Look! People have worked for a lifetime to earn certain benefits, only to lose them through doubletalk and deception. These people really do not care if Paul Anderson’s car has flames on it, in it, or is consumed by them!
Ex-Duke Energy Official AcquittedEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – December 11, 2005
So far, only one of three ex-Duke Energy traders charged with falsifying data has been fully acquitted, according to the Houston Chronicle.
On Wednesday, former Duke Energy executive Timothy Kramer was acquitted on seven counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and bypassing accounting controls, but he still faced more charges. On Thursday, a mistrial was declared in the trail for the remaining twelve charges.
The defense did not dispute how the trades were recorded, but maintained that Duke Energy set up the guidelines for doing it. The defense said that Duke Energy said everything was legal. But when federal investigators questioned the practice, the company let the traders take the fall.
Lawyer Jim Lavine said "Duke Energy saved itself and sacrificed Tim Kramer to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Tim Kramer worked under the good faith belief he was following the rules given to him."
On Tuesday, former Duke Energy Vice President Todd Reid was acquitted of all charges.
His attorney, Tom Hagemann, said We've always believed this case should never have been brought, but we've always believed in our system of justice. Finally the jury's verdict has brought Todd Reid justice."
In February, former Duke Energy trader Brian Lavielle pleaded guilty to charges of fabricating trades to secure higher bonuses. He is facing up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to a $5 million.
Jim Rogers Wants $23 millionEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – December 9, 2005
In “Fat Merger Payouts For CEOs,” BusinessWeek stated that Cinergy CEO Jim Rogers has been “quite persistent” in negotiating his payout resulting from the proposed merger with Duke Energy. He had at least nine meetings with Paul Anderson to iron out the details.
Mr. Rogers wants $23 million. Heck, everyone in the world wants $23 million! The difference is that Jim Rogers is very likely to get his $23 million.
Mr. Rogers explained the prudence of his $23 million quest this way: "To keep management ahead of the game [and] to get ultimate shareholder value, you want a management team that's economically indifferent to whether or not they will have a job when the deal is done. This is the way to compensate them for putting the shareholders in front."
Huh? You mean that is all it takes to justify a $23 million windfall? And, is it really the shareholders who are put in front?
But Mr. Rogers is going to have a job after the merger. He will have a better job as Duke Energy CEO. The same thing happened when Duke Energy bought PanEnergy. Paul Anderson received a merger payout plus a new job with Duke Energy. When he left Duke Energy, more money came his way.
Not all CEO’s view merger payouts as a good thing. Bank of America CEO Kenneth D. Lewis asked "Why should I as a CEO have a safety net that my teammates don't?"
Retired Gillette Vice-Chairman Joseph E. Mullaney commented on the pay of Gillette CEO, James M. Kilts. He said "It is obscene what he is getting paid."
Don’t get the idea that big money deals are for executives only. Duke Energy employees also get to participate in multimillion dollar deals. Only employee deals work a little differently than CEO deals; the money goes in the other direction! Duke Energy employees lost millions of dollars in pension and health benefits. Duke Energy ripped holes in the employees’ tissue paper parachutes.
Duke Energy’s Power Plant in MoscowEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – December 8, 2005
After the merger with Cinergy, Duke Energy will own a power plant in Moscow – Moscow, Ohio, that is.
Duke Energy has been settling lawsuits for some time, but Cinergy will come with its own legal baggage, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
Cinergy has been sued over pollution from its Zimmer coal plant in Moscow.
Danny Freeman, Moscow resident, said that on “touchdown” days, “It’s like somebody set the town on fire.”
Dawn Walden said “I call it the ‘Zimmer glimmer.’ ”
The lawsuit charges that Cinergy pollutes the town with soot, sulfuric acid, and mercury and other heavy metals.
In one lawsuit, Cinergy agreed to a $1.4 billion settlement in 1999. But after G. W. Bush took over Washington, Cinergy decided not to pay the settlement. That case is back in court.
Chuck Warman summed up the Cinergy pollution situation: “If you put your mouth on the end of a tail pipe, that’s not good for you. That’s Moscow. We’re pretty much at the end of the tail pipe."
Criminal LobbyistsEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – November 26, 2005
Carl Hulse wrote in The New York Times “The American system of underwriting political campaigns is often derided as legalized bribery. Now the Justice Department is contending that it can amount to illegal bribery as well.”
It is about time for the putrid lobbying system to be recognized for what it is: a shopping network for corporations to buy political favors.
On Monday, Michael Scanlon, former House aid, pleaded guilty to bribery conspiracy. Prosecutors charged attempts to influence a lawmaker with a direct campaign contribution and another contribution to a Republican Party fund to benefit the lawmaker. This case barely scratches the surface of lobbying improprieties.
As water flows downhill, money will always find its way to the pockets of politicians on the take. But the law does not have to make it so incredibly easy!
Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, said "I think the Justice Department wants to show that there is a line that can be crossed."
Senator John B. Breaux said "Contributions can only take you so far. I tell them, 'Look, you can give to an elected official and take them to lunch, dinner and breakfast. But if you are asking them to vote yes on an issue and they have 2,000 letters from home telling them to vote no, then you have a problem.' "
Sen. Breaux has a point that should be absorbed by every American employee. Too often, the average employee loses by default, because he took zero action in his own behalf!
When a corporation is willing to spend millions of dollars to buy “customized” legislation and employees are unwilling to pick up the phone or write a letter to Congress, who do you think will always win?
Representative Martin T. Meehan said "I think most Americans play by the rules and expect their leaders in government to do the same. It is time for Congress to clean up its act."
Of course some corporations have been known to bypass the lobbyist and campaign contributions ploy and just pay politicians directly for services rendered.
Another Worker Killed at Duke EnergyEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – November 23, 2005
Duke Energy acknowledged that a DEI Peru contractor died on Nov. 20. He was part of a diving crew at Cañon del Pato water storage reservoirs.
This brings the numbers of deaths at Duke Energy this year up to five. There were company boasts that there would be zero deaths, injuries, and even sicknesses at Duke Energy. Still, the 42-year-old employee will never return to his wife and two children.
Diving is just one of the many dangerous jobs at Duke Energy. The zero injuries and everything else campaign could be made more realistic, with a slight modification: “At Duke Energy there will be zero accidents, illnesses, and fatalities – in the boardroom!”
Duke Energy’s Empty Pockets PolicyEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – November 15, 2005
Duke Energy employees and retirees have complained for years about having empty pockets after all the benefits cuts. Believe it or not, Duke Energy now has an official “Empty Pockets Policy.”
The policy is said to prevent the spread of contamination at nuclear plants. But employees understand the real deal on the policy. The real Empty Pockets Policy was implemented on January 1, 1997 and was called a cash balance pension conversion.
Weak Proposal to Prevent Freezing DeathsEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – November 8, 2005
South Carolina regulators have proposed a weak measure to prevent freezing deaths, according to the Associated Press. Last year, 89-year-old Elizabeth Verdin froze to death, after Duke Power turned off her electricity.
The proposal would prohibit turning off a customer’s gas or power only if the average temperature over a 48-hour period is expected to drop to 32 degrees.
Rep. Karl Allen said "When you think about it, it doesn't need to be an average temperature."
It’s Official – Workers Lose with Cash Balance PlansEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – November 7, 2005
If there is anyone left on earth that did not know that cash balance plans take pension money from employees, a congressional body just confirmed the fact. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on Friday that detailed just how much money workers lose with a cash balance plan conversion.
The report stated: "most workers, regardless of age, would have received greater benefits under the (defined-benefit) plan." And long-term employees: "experience a greater loss of expected benefits than younger workers."
What about catering to the young, mobile employee and pension portability? It was all corporate hype. Cash balance conversions are a devious method for corporations to take earned pension money from employees. The IBM cash balance plan has already been ruled to be illegal and age discriminatory. IBM could not bear to give the workers their pension money back and has appealed the case.
Corporations want Congress to save them by retroactively legalizing cash balance plans. It’s the old “Break the law now and buy new laws later” scheme. The corporation have not been successful – so far.
Rep. Bernie Sanders said the study "is further proof of the need to stop companies from slashing the pension benefits of older workers through cash balance schemes."
Republican, Rep. John Boehner, chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, has been leading the effort to legalize cash balance plans. The GAO report exposed all of John Boehner cash balance statements as pure fabrication.
The Employee Advocate verified with the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that all the employee cash balance age discrimination charges filed against Duke Energy are still open.
Duke Energy VP’s Accused of Falsifying BooksEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – October 23, 2005
Wednesday was the fourth day of the trial of Timothy Kramer and Todd Reid, former Duke Energy North America (DENA) vice presidents, according to the Houston Chronicle. The former Duke Energy VP’s are accused of making money the old fashioned way – lying about price and altering the books. Bad trades can suddenly become winning trades, if the numbers are pulled out of thin air.
Charles Murray Fichtner testified against the former Duke Energy executives. He said that in 2001, the VP’s recorded winning trades in the mark-to-market book, so the profit would be immediately recognized. Losing trades were deferred by recording them in the accrual book. Bonuses would be fatter because only the winning trades would be seen.
Former trader Fichtner said his boss, Kramer, would discuss with Reid how the daily trading needed to be “adjusted.” Kramer would then tell the traders how to falsify the trading results.
A phone recording of Kramer talking to another trader was played for the court: "I'll just use one of my (expletive) tricks at the end of the day rather than pay that price."
When Duke Energy’s round-trip trading first came to light, the company repeatedly claimed that the practice could not alter profits. But Fichtner testified that round-trip trading was a method employed to make things look better.
Fichtner testified "I was very uncomfortable with what I was seeing.” He said he went to Kramer with his concerns. “He basically just told me: 'Don't worry about it. There are no issues with it. I've got it.' "
DENA was to be former Duke Energy CEO Rick Priory’s crowning glory. He was embarrassed to be associated with power generation and refused to attend meetings with analysts if only other utility CEO’s attended. He saw energy trading as the road to vast wealth, not energy production. The fruit of energy trading was lost money, lost reputation, and lawsuits
As it turns out, DENA lost hundreds of millions of dollars for Duke Energy. The profits made by Duke Power’s generating facilities saved the company. CEO Paul Anderson finally washed his hands of the losing proposition and dumped DENA.
Duke Energy can never be fully rid of the burdens caused by its past greed, as long as the employees’ benefits issue is ignored. The ill fated ventures were financed on the backs of employees. Duke Energy will be on the road to recovery the day the cash balance pension plan is also dumped!
Another Duke Energy Contractor FatalityEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – October 22, 2005
Duke Energy reported the death of a contractor employee on October 19, from on-the-job injuries suffered on October 10, 2005. The victim was working for Duke Energy Gas Transmission on the Texas Eastern Transmission system pipe replacement project.
Last year, COO Fred Fowler said that his Safety Steering Team would prevent all accidents, illnesses, and fatalities at Duke Energy. It is easy to make fanciful, boastful statements. It is the delivery that is always the problem.
Replacing a pipeline is dangerous work. It is more dangerous than, say, sitting in a boardroom dreaming up safety creeds and nifty slogans.
Earlier this year, when a contractor was killed on the job, Duke Energy rolled out the “Safety Creed” to solve everything. How well did the Safety Creed do in preventing fatalities? Another contractor was killed the very next day.
Duke Energy then decided the way to “zero injuries” was to print posters and laminated cards for employees to wear around their necks. If employees hung every laminated card that had been given to them around their necks, they would be sporting Elizabethan collars!
Another big item at some sites was changing the color of the “safety form,” that is to be filled out before doing any work. Changing it from green to orange would surely prevent all injuries!
To make absolutely sure that no more sickness, injuries, or deaths occurred on the job, Duke Energy pulled out all the stops and changed the name of the program! The “Zero Injury/Illness Culture” will now be called the “Zero Injury/Illness Campaign”!
The inclusion of the word “campaign” may be most appropriate. The safety declarations are very similar to promises made during a political campaign. Great promises are always made, but they seldom materialize and are soon forgotten.
Attorney General Opposes Duke Energy - Cinergy MergerEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – October 7, 2005
Kentucky Attorney General Greg Stumbo wants the merger of Duke Energy and Cinergy rejected by the state's Public Service Commission, according to Reuters. He charges that Duke Energy is withholding information on the proposed merger.
Dennis Howard, acting director of rate intervention, said "Essentially, we have an issue with the company and their candor with us and the (commission). The bottom line is that coming out of the gate they are not being forthcoming. Does that demonstrate good corporate citizenship? What should we expect in the future?"
This is not the fist time that Duke Energy has been accused of withholding information. Duke Energy withheld the details of its pension cash balance conversion in 1997 and is still withholding information. Law firms that have requested pension details, on the behalf of employees, have received evasive responses.
Duke Energy directs employees to their on-line pension information. But any numbers found there are meaningless, as they are not guaranteed to be accurate. Many employees have said that the pension numbers produced on-line constantly change for no apparent reason.
When employees were forced into the cash balance plan, Duke Energy provided “cartoon books” to explain it all. The only difference today is that the meaningless information is on-line.
Duke Energy’s Merger OpposedEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – October 2, 2005
The Charlotte Observer reported that the merger between Duke Energy and Cinergy is being opposed by various groups, including utilities and consumer advocates. They fear the energy giant will become even more powerful and throw its weight around even more.
Public Citizen objected to Duke and Cinergy having private meetings with FERC. Some corporations do seem to prefer operating in the shadows, back rooms, and in the dead of the night.
Paul Anderson’s CompensationEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – September 19, 2005
Here is what Stella M. Hopkins and Amy Baldwin had to say about Paul Anderson’s compensation in the 9/18/05 issue of The Charlotte Observer:
No pay for Duke Energy CEO Paul Anderson? Not quite, but Anderson put his pay on the line when he took over the troubled company in 2003. No salary, no cash bonus, not even a company car. He received restricted stock, initially valued at $11.3 million, with vesting partially subject to the company's performance. He also got options to buy 1.1 million shares of Duke stock. His turnaround success has boosted the options' value to a paper profit Friday of about $13 million. He can't sell the stock until he leaves. But he's not completely empty-handed. Like other CEOs with stock grants, he's collecting dividends. Last year's $709,500 was more than enough to pay the Duke Power bill at his Charlotte home and keep gas in his flame-decorated, purple PT Cruiser.
Duke Power Wants to Charge for Lake WaterEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – September 16, 2005
On August 25, 2005, Bruce Henderson reported in The Charlotte Observer about Duke Power’s desire to start charging for lake water. Duke wants to charge industries and municipalities for water drawn from the Catawba River reservoirs.
Mike Boyd, city of Charlotte attorney, said "Our perspective is that this is not Duke's water, it's public water."
Mr. Boyd added that a 1922 deed on Mountain Island Lake from Duke's predecessor company promises the city free water.
Employees have some first hand experience with Duke Energy’s written promises. All they have left are the papers promising benefits for labor - the benefits vanished.
Duke Power wants to renew its license to manage the river for 50 more years or so. Citizens who would pay higher water rates probably would like for Duke to lose its license to gouge.
Duke Energy to Dump DENAEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – September 14, 2005
Duke Energy has announced plans to sell the Duke Energy North America (DENA) businesses. Chalk up another good move to Paul Anderson.
DENA is a holdover from the past CEO’s attempt to dominate the world and trade his way to glory. Over a $1 billion non-cash, pre-tax charge will be taken in the 2005 third quarter.
Don’t weep; this is a good thing! Mr. Anderson is taking the necessary actions to repair the damage created by the previous regime.
DENA has been a drain on management’s energy and a rat hole for money to flow into for years.
Another Duke Power Tree Trimming ProtestEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – August 21, 2005
Duke Power customers are once again irate over tree trimming, according to The Charlotte Observer. There were so many complaints that Duke Power suspended tree clearing along high power transmission lines in Davidson.
Bob Ruth said "It looked like a war zone out there."
Duke Power officials told a group of about 20 residents that they can remove any trees they deem a threat to service within what they refer to as a "danger zone."
Sometimes trees have all the limbs cut off on only one side and the heavy side pulls the tree toward the road. With a little ice and a little wind, these trees will fall across the road, crushing anything in the way. The “danger zone” is shifted from the power lines to the road. The danger is shifted from the company to the public.
If you think Duke Power customers are mad now, just wait until the next ice storm hits. When ice laden trees knock out power for days or weeks, customers can really become ill.
Tree trimming problems can be reported to the N.C. Utilities Commission at (919) 733-9277.
Another Death at Duke EnergyEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – August 5, 2005
On August 1, 2005, an Asplundh contractor lost his life on a Duke Power job. A Duke Power contractor died on July 19, and another died the very next day. Three deaths in such a short period of time cannot be brushed aside.
But what really draws attention to the fatalities is Duke Energy’s (parent company) “Zero Injuries/Zero Sickness” safety program. COO Fred Fowler went as far as to proclaim that there would be no injuries, sickness, or deaths at Duke Energy.
Would the deaths have been avoided if the executives had not made the zero injuries prediction? Of course not; injuries, sickness, and deaths can never be totally eliminated! The point is that without all the boasting, Duke Energy executives would not look like arrogant, bumbling, buffoons when regrettable, but inevitable, events occur.
Duke Energy executives have never been able to grasp the fact that glorious programs, that cannot work, will only make them look foolish.
Once, Duke Energy executives predicted “Zero Injuries by 1998.” They looked foolish when a fatality occurred at the beginning of 1998. The flaky program was never mentioned again. Only recently has it been resurrected and repackaged. Predicting zero accidents failed once and now it failing again. Evidently Duke Energy executives have a masochistic streak. They repeatedly set themselves up for inevitable failure. To make matters even worse, they are incapable of ever admitting an error in judgment. They are intent on “staying the course” until their defeat is undeniable.
The former CEO promised investors specific financial performance every quarter. It was only a matter of time until he could not deliver. Then the world crashed upon him. Do they ever learn? No! They never learn!
The executives keep grasping at straws in a vain attempt to save this pig: steering committees, arrogant predictions, safety creeds, and renamed programs. They cannot grasp that gimmicks will never work and only turn off employees even more.
The sad part is that the executives did not have to do anything after CEO Paul Anderson’s appeal for greater safety. Mr. Anderson stated everything as simply, and yet, eloquently as possible. Everything since his safety statement has only served to cheapen the effort.
Safety would have been enhanced to the maximum degree with three steps:
The executives then made the mistake of not asking employees how they could help. They went into their usual authoritative mode, dictating how workers would be safe and commanding no injuries. To make sure any safety improvement was doomed, they made the ridiculous predictions of zero everything.
Understand, no matter what safety approach was taken, there never would have been zero injuries, sickness, and deaths. It would have been reasonable to expect to reduce the rate of incidents. But there would have been no guarantee of even that.
If Duke Energy executives had sincerely tried to improve safety conditions, without all the gimmicks and hype, they would have been bulletproof. No one would have faulted their efforts to improve safety, even if they failed miserably. They would always get credit for trying.
Executives need not expect credit for bullheadedness and supreme arrogance. Duke Energy executives constantly get into predicaments because they are unwilling to admit any mistakes. If they had admitted that calling for zero injuries and sickness was unrealistic and pompous, they could have progressed from there. The executives unwittingly promoted an “us versus them” situation when it was completely unnecessary. With a more realistic approach, at least everyone would have been on the same side. It is now a case of management trying to force workers to be safe. It was the one point that everyone could agree on and management blew it!
When will management stop treating every single thing as a PR event? Probably never. To the horn-blowers, everything is a PR opportunity. If they luck up and things somehow get better, then they go off on a rode show. They tell the world how they saved the day with their programs, processes, creeds, and superior managing ability. The programs that implode are simply ignored.
Management expends a lot of effort trying to get down on the employees’ level to be able to communicate with them. The effort would be better spent in trying to get up to the employees’ level.
More Dumb Duke Energy AdsEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – July 28, 2005
Duke Energy wised up for a while and stopped running the dumb newspaper ads. The ads are back. There are not as many now, but they are a dumb as ever. The latest one is in Fortune.
The title of the ad is "Don't waste your time waiting for the golden egg."
The ad features a freckled-faced boy. Why do the dumbest ads of all always feature a freckled-faced boy? The boy is looking into a nest at a chicken and an egg. Powerful stuff!
Supposedly, this image will rivet the reader’s attention to the words below:
“Real progress comes from deliberate action. Strategic plans are carried out one step at a time. We’re excited to report that our growth strategy is on track. Our proposed merger with Cinergy Corp is the latest step in that plan. It will strengthen our utility and merchant power businesses, while increasing our future growth options. After all, our goal is to build businesses by picking projects and partners that will put the right eggs in our basket...one at a time.”
A lot of money was squandered just to say “Duke Energy is trying to buy Cinergy.”
Employees who worked for 30 years because Duke Energy promised them a golden retirement nest egg found that they had wasted their time. Only the company did not tell employees that they were wasting their time working for a pension. Annual retirement plan statements were sent to employees. These statements touted how great the retirement plan was and how much money faithful employees would receive. What the Duke chicken dispensed in the employees’ hands was not an egg at all! The cash balance plan was certainly nothing to cackle about.
At this point, the merger is not guaranteed to happen. What if it fails? Will the next ad feature the freckled-faced boy with egg on his face?
‘Earth-shattering’ Safety ChangesEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – July 26, 2005
Over a year ago, Paul Anderson made an impressive appeal to employees for improved on the job safety. He was riding the wave of having turned Duke Energy’s shaky finances around in short order. He was on top of the world.
Enter: Fred Fowler. It is unknown if he was following Mr. Anderson’s specific instructions or just trying to horn in on the perceived glory, but he jinxed the whole safety effort. He ranted and raved about how his Safety Steering Team was going to save the day.
When executives start competing with each other to see who can implement the grandest program, the realm of absurdity is soon breached. Mr. Fowler claimed “that injuries, workplace illnesses and fatalities are preventable and unacceptable in all our operations…” Every since, he has been grasping at straws in an effort to justify his outrageous statements.
Mr. Fowler really entered the Twilight Zone when he lectured executives of other companies about the very mistakes that he was guilty of making!
This month a contractor was killed on the job. Duke Power CEO Ruth Shaw took that as a cue to introduce the “Duke Energy Safety Creed.” The big line was “I will keep you safe, and you will follow my rules.”
How well did the executive’s creed do in keeping employees safe? The next day another contractor was killed on the job. Ms Shaw conceded that the safety program must be changed.
The zero injuries, illness, and deaths safety program was called the “Zero Injury/Illness Culture.”
The executives had an incentive to junk the preposterous safety program and implement a sane one. They acted promptly. What did they do?
The “Zero Injury/Illness Culture” was replaced with the “Zero Injury/Illness Campaign”!
Every time employees try to convince themselves that management is not really hopeless, something like this happens. “Bold” initiatives such as this make employees feel tired all over.
A Death a Day at Duke EnergyEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – July 22, 2005
Ruth Shaw, CEO and president of Duke Power, has been taking bows and claiming success for the Duke Energy program of eliminating all on the job injuries, sicknesses, and deaths. The problem is that the program has not been successful at all. Injuries have actually increased in some areas.
Duke Energy treats everything as a PR event. Areas with high injury rates were ignored and areas with no injuries were publicized. It has been business as usual – always accentuate the positive and stonewall everything else. If the hounds get too close, create a diversion by implementing a new program. A corporation can expend vast amounts of energy trying to suppress the truth, but it will always keep breaking through.
Injury statistics can be cherry-picked to make a sorry program look better that it actually is. But fatalities are a little harder to spin away. Ruth Shaw sent a phone-mail message to employees that a fatality had occurred on July 19, 2005. She said that she felt “gut-punched.” Gene Barry Brown, a Davey Tree contractor, made contact with a 7200-volt power line and was electrocuted. He was 41and the father of three children.
Duke Energy executives claim that they can prevent all on the job injuries, illnesses, and deaths, but their bag of tricks is woefully lacking. Executives can form committees, hold meetings, generate memos, create nifty slogans, make outlandish proclamations, and spin the facts. What executives cannot do is prevent all on the job injuries, sicknesses and deaths.
Duke Power has gone as far as bribing employees with hotdogs and hamburgers to not have any injuries. When slogans fail, break out the big guns – hotdogs and hamburgers!
Ruth Shaw also sent a memo to supervisors about the fatality. In the memo, she introduced Duke Energy’s latest attempt to prevent all injuries, sicknesses, and deaths – the “Duke Energy Safety Creed.”
Duke Energy Safety Creed
I am a guardian.
I don't care who you are,
This is a zero illness and injury culture.
“You are in my sights” sounds like another Duke Energy attempt to threaten people into zero injures. “You are in my sights” makes Duke Energy executives sound more like snipers than guardians! And that analogy may be more truthful.
“I will keep you safe, and you will follow my rules” is a typically arrogant Duke Energy statement. Translation: “You are a complete idiot and I know everything. You just listen to me and you cannot possibly get hurt.”
These safety statements are reminiscent of the benefit boasts made by Duke Energy executives. The implication was always that employees knew nothing and that the executives would take good care of the retirement and health benefits. They “took care” of the benefits all right!
The truth is that Duke Energy executives do not know how to keep people safe. Those who have experience only in attending meetings and sending memos are clueless about what is involved in dangerous work. Things that sound great to them can actually cause more injuries and fatalities.
The biggest fallacy promoted by executives is that safety equipment will prevent all accidents. In some cases, safety equipment is the cause of injuries and deaths. Safety harnesses have caused deaths that would not have otherwise occurred. Gloves have been caught in machinery. When the glove is pulled into the machine, the employee goes with it.
It is sometimes a difficult call to make about when safety equipment is actually more dangerous to use than not use. Sometimes there is less risk in using a ladder rather than building a scaffold. Sometimes there is less danger in performing work on energized circuits that in de-energizing them. Sometimes there is less radioactive exposure by not hanging lead shielding versus hanging it. It takes experience and familiarity with the work to make these calls. Those least qualified to make these calls are the executives.
When executives say “I will keep you safe,” they are engaging in wishful thinking. Executives do not have the capacity to keep you safe.
Boasting “I will keep you safe,” while announcing a fatality is ludicrous. What could top this?
The very next day, another fatality occurred!
On July 20, 2005, a 52-year-old employee of Duke Energy contractor, American Lighting & Signalization, died on the job in Charlotte. The cause of death was possibly electrocution, according to The Charlotte Observer.
Ruth Shaw wrote to employees: “Investigations on (sic) underway on both incidents. We will learn from them.
"Despite strong efforts to improve safety, despite providing clear safety expectations, despite greater oversight to contractor teams, despite more resources to safety, the painful reality is that all these efforts have not prevented these tragic deaths. We must find different, more powerful approaches.”
Ruth Shaw is the first Duke Energy executive to admit that their safety approach is not working. That is the most growth that she has shown to date. That does not necessarily mean that things will get better. Duke Energy has, more than once, scrapped a silly program, only to implement a more outlandish and unworkable one.
The Employee Advocate will also give Ruth Shaw credit for immediately acknowledging the deaths. Ruth Shaw also gets credit for not trying to ignore the fatalities, just because the victims were not employed directly by Duke Energy/Duke Power.