For calling out Lockheed Martin’s production workers in Fort Worth as rampant “slackers”, Fort Worth Star-Telegram community columnist E.R. Bills could surely expect a strong response.
But Lockheed’s follow-up letter to the editor in the Star-Telegram today instead seems a model of restraint. The company, of course, defends its workforce as “highly skilled, innovative and productive”, notes that an Ethics Help Line allows employees to report abuses without fear of reprisal and mentions several manufacturing awards, including, ahem, one received from Flight International.
Lockheed’s letter goes on to mildly correct Bills’ flawed calculations about the share of national spending allocated to defense. The letter avoids biting on any of Bills’ specific, although unsubstantiated, allegations, but leaves the door open to investigating any facts Bills can provide.
The activities Mr. Bills described as taking place on company timeare unacceptable in our company, as they would be in any company.
However, our employees are entitled to break and lunch periods during which relaxing is expected.
We wonder if Mr. Bills might have observed employees during thesetimes. If Mr. Bills is willing to provide any details to a companyrepresentative, we are eager to investigate.
For a more emotionally-charged version of the Fort Worth rhetorical battle, read the 42 comments posted on the Star-Telegram’s opinion page about the article. Or read a few of the more polite emails in my inbox yesterday, where Lockheed employees at Fort Worth defend their colleagues from the Bills attack. Some of these same workers leave a “trail of blood” into and out of the Lockheed factory, and “miss family meals, work overtime, miss ballgames and our kids’ after school activities” to meet deadlines.