Rosemary Batt & Eileen Appelbaum

Rosemary Batt is the Alice Hanson Cook Professor of Women and Work at the Industrial and Labor Relations School, Cornell University.

Eileen Appelbaum is a senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. This article draws on their book, Private Equity at Work: When Wall Street Manages Main Street. 

 

Recent Articles

Private Equity Pillage: Grocery Stores and Workers At Risk

The private equity business model is to strip assets from companies that they acquire. The latest victims: retail grocery chains

This article appears in the Fall 2018 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . Since 2015 seven major grocery chains, employing more than 125,000 workers, have filed for bankruptcy. The media has blamed “disruptors”—low-cost competitors like Walmart and high-end markets like Whole Foods, now owned by Amazon. But the real disruptors in this industry are the private equity owners who were behind all seven bankruptcies. They have extracted millions from grocery stores in the last five years—funds that could have been used to upgrade stores, enhance products and services, and invest in employee training and higher wages. As with the bankruptcies of common household names like Toys “R” Us, private equity owners throw companies they own into unsustainable debt in order to capture high returns for themselves and their investors. If the company they have starved of resources goes broke, they’ve already made their bundle. This is all...

Who Is Wilbur Ross?

From bankruptcy king to Trump’s king of commerce

Chris Kleponis/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
This article appears in the Summer 2017 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . The Senate confirmed Wilbur Ross as Trump’s new secretary of commerce by a vote of 72 to 27, with Democrats closely divided. Democrats are understandably conflicted over this appointment. A private-equity billionaire, Ross has also done deals with unions. He poses as a friend of labor, a savior of bankrupt companies, a creator of jobs, a turnaround wizard. He can sound like an economic nationalist. Now, as secretary of commerce, he is the architect of government policies to create jobs in this country. What will that mean? Ross is worth an estimated $2.5 billion to $2.9 billion, according to various industry estimates. He has made his billions by buying up struggling or bankrupt companies on the cheap. He has used bankruptcy laws to dump health and pension benefits for workers when buying distressed companies. He has relied on the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World...