Yes, There Is an Alternative for Catalyst Paper's Employees to Vulture Capitalism

City of Powell River with Catalyst Paper mill in the foreground.

The second vote by its creditors on whether to keep Catalyst Paper afloat under the auspicies of the idiots that ran it into bankruptcy in the first place is just about to start. According to the pundits it could be just as close as the first. This new vote has come about primarily because former salaried employees have angled their way into the picture by forgoing some significant pension benefits (their extended health coverage) in order to qualify as affected creditors.

The pension plan of the salaried pensioners, not hourly employees, of Catalyst Paper is under-funded by $115million so if the corporation is sold they stand to lose a portion of their pension incomes. The salaried pensioners though hold a very small share and therefore a very small say in the outcome. On the NO side are a couple of U.S. investment funds who are assured of 3.8 cents on the dollar for the millions worth of bonds if the restructuring plan is accepted, but if they can force the sale they can perhaps get7.2 cents on the dollar. These unsecured investors have been busy buying up more bonds recently so they hold more power in today's vote.

If the vote fails again today the company would be put up for sale and bidders would buy it. If it's sold - in whole or in part - operations could continue on under different ownership or management or it could all be shut down and sold for scrap. Considering that in reality  if a board of directors and senior leadership of any corporation, including Catalyst, were to put the well-being of the public-at-large ahead of corporate profits, they would be dismissed it's obvious in who's interest these and all past actions by Catalyst's directors have been taken, their own.

Why are we told, once again, a broken system that creates wealth for exucutives and bondholders but insecurity, unemployment and paycuts is the only choice. But it isn't, there is an alternative to vulture capitalism and Spain's amazing co-op Mondragon is living proof. The employees of what are now Cataylst Paper's mills could and should, like Mondragon has, form a  co-operative of enterprises and build a different kind of life around a different way of working. This isn't a revolutionary idea or even a new one, just ask the employee/owners of the Harmac Pulpmill outside of Nanaimo how happy and how productive they and their operation are now.