1. What are the legal and ethical responsibilities of Whirlpool in a plant-closing case such as the one in Evansville, Indiana?
The decision to close the Whirlpool plant in Indiana was a business one, but Whirlpool had legal and ethical responsibilities to take care of. The legal responsibility of Whirlpool was to notify its workers at least sixty days before mass downsizing, under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988(WARN Act). As Whirlpool had informed its employees a year before, it had fulfilled its legal responsibilities.
The ethical responsibilities of Whirlpool were to facilitate the relocation of workers to other companies or departments of Whirlpool. As the stakeholders reacted negatively to Whirlpool’s decision, it can be seen that they did not fulfill their ethical responsibilities.
2. Did the company have any responsibility to work with the community in this decision? What should it have done and how should it have done it?
The company had the ethical responsibility to work with the community as it played a huge part in it. This single plant would have an effect on 10,000 families in the community. They should have worked with the local union on how to relocate all these workers, and what new businesses could be started in the community. It should be noted that with every change, some resistance should be anticipated. Hence, the decision to close the plant would always face some resistance. However, the right way to go about it would have been to inform the employees of their decision beforehand, and help them get relocated in other companies. It should have also met the union and ask if the employees are willing to experience a pay cut to keep costs low. By mutually discussing the decision with the stakeholders, such a negative reaction could have been avoided.
3. In view of the federal stimulus funds that Whirlpool received, did it have a greater responsibility to make the Evansville plant sustainable? Explain
I believe that Whirlpool did have a greater responsibility to make the plant sustainable after receiving the federal stimulus funds. The federal stimulus funds were provided to Whirlpool, with the implicit assumption that it will use the funds to keep the plant open and keep operating in the United States. Instead, it is taking the funds and relocating in Mexico.