January 9th, 2013 by salloy
The Oregonian is reporting today that the investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, or KKR, is threatening to close its Sealy mattress factory in North Portland and pack the union jobs off to a non-union facility in another state. But here’s the kicker: the state of Oregon contracts with KKR to handle $3 BILLION of the state’s investments.
Fortunately, State Treasurer Ted Wheeler — a Working Families Party cross-nominee — is asking some tough questions about the deal and we need to get his back right now.
On December 31st Treasurer Wheeler sent a letter to KKR which asked questions about KKR’s intention to move their plant out of state. He referenced the state’s long investment relationship with KKR, including the state’s decision to invest another $225 Million with the firm just this year. How did KKR respond? Well, on Friday KKR issued notice to the 128 employees at the plant of their intention to close the factory.
The Oregonian has called the investment firm KKR the “king of leveraged buyouts,“ and they are known as a pioneer in the field of leveraging debt to buy companies. Leveraged buyouts often lead to the ruthless business practice known as a “hostile takeover.” In 2006 KKR teamed up with Bain Capital to execute one the biggest leveraged buyouts in history when they spent $33 billion for Healthcare Corporation of America. 
Given its history, it may come as no surprise that KKR is trying to gut its Oregon factory and the family wage jobs it provides. But it IS surprising to know that KKR is managing the state’s money at the very same time.
Meanwhile the 128 workers at KKR’s North Portland facility are anxiously waiting to hear if they will have jobs in the New Year.