Kodak was a major film and camera business in Rochester , New York. When I lived in Rochester Kodak was considered the dream of the crop. In 1982 Kodak employed over 60,000 people. A truly massive amount for the region. And about 100,000 worldwide.
Not only was Kodak the major employer, it was one of the best employers. If you worked at Kodak in any capacity you had a “good job”. Scientist. Technician.Inventor. Chemist. Factory worker. Engineer. It didn’t matter. Kodak took care of you.
Kodak had no union. Not needed. The pay was always good. The working conditions decent. And the bonuses! The bonuses! Every March Kodak gave out holiday bonuses. To everyone. I don’t mean $10 in an envelope bonuses.
From John Kucko Digital, a Rochester reporter:………….. …….
“For many years, generations even, this week in March was like a national holiday for the nearly 100,000 working at Eastman Kodak across the globe back in the day. The Kodak Bonus was a day on the calendar everyone looked forward to, especially here in Rochester. Company founder George Eastman implemented the bonus in 1912 and it continued for decades. Mr. Eastman valued employee loyalty and believed in rewarding those who worked hard for him. In 1984, Kodak paid out over $254 million to some 93,000 employees throughout the company. This was money that was reinvested in Rochester as workers, in many cases, pumped the money into the local economy. Auto dealers enjoyed a major surge in business, as did most everyone else. Mr. Eastman was at the forefront of employee relations and his way of doing business was the template followed by many. If an employee had a good idea, Mr. Eastman made sure to reward them. Translation: employee morale was off the charts in those golden years. I believe the days of the Kodak Bonus began to decline in 2001 or so and the rest was history….”
But, as happens with many companies, Kodak was sold. And the new management brought in new ideas. Mainly, selling off the assets and firing workers. Eventually declaring bankruptcy in 2012. And by 2012 the company had a Rochester workforce of 1,600 employees. A well run family owned company stripped by pirates……
So, it was very odd when Mr Trump announced he was giving the “new” Kodak a loan of more than a quarter of a billion dollars. ($ 765,000,000 to be exact) .This money is coming from the Defense Production Act. Now, you may ask why the president is giving a loan to a failed camera and film making company. Do we need more film? Of course not……
This money is not going to produce film. It is going to a “start up” company. Kodak, stripped of assets and recently driven into bankruptcy, is being given taxpayer supplied loans to start a pharmaceutical company. A drug making company. Because one thing we need is more drug making companies. And what better candidate for a drug start up than a bankrupted film company?…..
In the middle of a hurricane is the best time to start up an umbrella company. Don’t invest in companies already set up to produce new and better umbrellas. Nope. Find a company that used to make napkins. But went broke making napkins. And give them a loan to try to figure out how to make umbrellas……
There is more to the story. Kodak, which was temporarily thrown off the NY Stock Exchange is back on. And for the entire month of July Kodak stock was stable at about $2.10 a share. And trading was anywhere between 70,000-200,000 or so shares a day. But then. WHAM. On Monday (the day BEFORE Trump’s announcement) there was an unexplained jump in Kodak trading. On Friday there were 75,000 shares traded and on Thursday about 80,000 shares traded……
But on Monday, before Mr Trump’s announcement, there were 1,600,000 shares traded and the stock price went through the roof. By the time Wednesday rolled around shares had increased by over 300%. Somebody had an excellent crystal ball! Good timing!…..
So, we have a bankrupt film manufacturing company that gets a massive loan to start a drug business in the middle of a pandemic. And somebody had the foresight to buy up a whole lot of stock…..
Get the picture?…..
4 responses to “Get the Picture?”
That paragraph about the umbrellas was priceless….
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A fine piece of investigative reporting, with appropriate sarcasm. Never have so many mysteries pointed us toward that reliable phrase: follow the money.
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We won’t find out which members of Congress bought Kodak stock until May of next year at the earliest. Kodak isn’t the only unlikely recipient of a windfall.