A profit for staff-owned company

One of the nation's prime experiments in employee-owned businesses has finally moved from red to black in its tally of earnings, Monitor correspondent Lucia Mouat reports.

In announcing net earnings of $21,000, or 1 cent per share, for the 13 weeks ending Jan. 2, management and labor leaders of the Rath Packing Company of Waterloo, Iowa - gathering in Chicago for the occasion - gave several reasons for the upturn: federal grants in years past to modernize equipment, a shift to production of more profitable processed meat, improved employee morale, and a 6 percent increase in productivity gained from less employee absenteeism (mainly through peer pressure), plus a swifter hog slaughtering operation.

Rath president Herbert Epstein and local union president Lyle Taylor, noting the company's 2,000 employees will own 60 percent of Rath's outstanding stock by April, cautioned that the improved cash flow does not necessarily mean the company is out of the financial woods.

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