If MPG, the media buying group of agency holding company Havas, ever had to guess who its most implacable enemy is, the answer would probably not be: The Industrial Workers of the World, a socialist/anarchist movement founded in 1905.
MPG has its enemies, of course. Chief among them is Aegis, the company Havas has been eyeing as a buyout target for many years but for some reason never seems to get round to acquiring. But Aegis may see its place on the "Havas Enemies List" replaced by the Industrial Workers of the World, or "the Wobblies," as they call themselves -- a leftist group whose influence in the U.S. reached its peak with the 1917 Pacific Northwest lumber strike, when IWW's Finnish-language newspaper, Industrialisti, had a circulation of 10,000.
The reason? Joseph Sanchez (pictured at an IWW demo), a former MPG client accounting associate who was laid off by MPG in June, who has emailed 200 MPG employees alerting them to an unfairness in the agency's severance agreement.
Obscurantist origins of Sanchez's politics aside, he has a point about the agreement MPG workers are asked to sign if they are fired, assuming his recounting of it is accurate. Basically, MPG withholds severance pay unless an employee agrees to not disparage or sue MPG. MPG offers no such guarantee on the other side, Sanchez says. Here's the text of his email in full. All replies to Sanchez are confidential, he says.
From: email@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: IWW open letter to MPG employees Date: Tue, 25 Aug 2009 20:24:21 +0000 Hi Jim, If interested, below is an open letter sent to nearly 200 MPG employees yesterday as part of the campaign for fair severance at MPG. Thanks, Joseph Dear MPG Colleagues, I hope everyone is well. I'm writing to update you on the campaign to improve MPG's severance practices for past and future layoffs as well as extend an offer of support to associates concerned about additional job losses and changes that have taken place since the layoffs. As many of you know, after I was laid off along with 49 of our co-workers, I was denied severance pay because I objected to one-sided conditions in the severance agreement and the insufficient amount of money offered. While MPG sought to impose a legal obligation that we not denigrate the company (a condition I have no problem with), it would not agree to refrain from speaking adversely about us to prospective employers. MPG further demanded that we waive our right to sue. Again, I had no problem with this condition. However, MPG refused outright to wave its right to sue us. Simply put, MPG's one-sided severance agreements violate basic principles of fairness. I appreciate the opportunity to provide you with this update and want to encourage anyone interested in learning more about your workplace rights at MPG to get in touch. Your inquiry will be kept strictly confidential. You can reach me at ###-###-#### or ***@***.com. Thank you very much and I look forward to talking. Yours sincerely, Joseph Sanchez Former MPG Client Accounting Associate
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