APNewsBreak: US boss held in China says deal made

APNewsBreak: US boss held hostage by Chinese workers says he'll pay workers and be set free

Associated Press
US boss held in China leaves plant after payout
.

View photo

American Chip Starnes, co-owner of Specialty Medical Supplies, speaks to the media from a window as he is held hostage by angry workers inside his plant at the Jinyurui Science and Technology Park in Qiao Zi township of Huairou District, on the outskirts of Beijing,Tuesday, June 25, 2013. Starnes said he's waiting for his lawyers to arrive to resolve a compensation dispute that highlights tensions in China's labor market. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

BEIJING (AP) -- A U.S. company boss held hostage by his Chinese workers at a Beijing plant for nearly a week in a compensation dispute said Thursday an agreement on a payout has been reached to allow his release.

Chip Starnes told The Associated Press a deal was reached overnight to pay the dozens of workers who had demanded generous severance packages similar to ones given to co-workers in a phased-out division, even though the company said the remaining workers weren't being laid off.

The remaining workers said they believed the entire medical supply plant was on the verge of being shut down, saying the company owed unpaid salary and that they saw equipment being packed up and itemized for shipping to India last week.

Police in Huairou district, on the outskirts of Beijing, made no moves to halt the labor action but guarded the plant and said early this week that they would guarantee Starnes' safety while local labor officials brokered negotiations.

Starnes, a co-owner of Florida-based Specialty Medical Supplies who was confined to the plant by workers since last Friday, said he was forced to give in to the worker's demands, and summed up the past several days as "humiliating, embarrassing." He had spoken with reporters in recent days through a barred window of his office where he spent much of his time.

"We have transferred our funds from the U.S.," he said by phone early Thursday. "I am basically free to go when the funds hit the account here of the company." He declined to say how much.

Starnes said he planned to get back to business, and even rehire some of the workers who had been holding him. "We're going to take Thursday off to let the dust settle, and we're going to be rehiring a lot of the previous workers on new contracts as of Friday," he said.

Chu Lixiang, director of Huairou district workers union, said details would be released later Thursday. Two of the plants' workers reached by telephone declined to comment.

It is not rare in China for managers to be held by workers demanding back pay or other benefits, often from their Chinese owners. Police are reluctant to intervene, as they consider it a business dispute.

Starnes previously said the company had been winding down its plastics division, with plans to move it to Mumbai. He arrived in Beijing last week to lay off the last 30 people. Workers in other divisions started demanding similar severance packages last Friday.

About 80 workers at the plant blocked exits since then. At the beginning of his captivity, he said, they had deprived him of sleep by shining bright lights and banging on windows of his office.

View Comments

Recommended for You

  • First lady gets resume from girl with jobless dad

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Michelle Obama's annual question-and-answer session with the children of Executive Office employees took a serious turn Thursday when a 10-year-old girl in the front row told the first lady that her dad had been out of work for three years. Then the girl popped up to hand the…

    Associated Press
  • In Disney's shadow, homeless families struggle

    KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — When they moved from Georgia to the theme park playground of central Florida four years ago, Anthony and Candice Johnson found work at a barbecue restaurant and a 7-Eleven. Their combined salaries nevertheless fell short of what they needed to rent an apartment, so the couple…

    Associated Press
  • Musk’s Tesla Income Plummets 99.9% to Less Than $70,000

    Elon Musk, Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) ’s chief executive and one of the wealthiest U.S. entrepreneurs, saw his take-home pay from the automaker plunge by more than 99.9 percent last year after a surge in his 2012 stock options. Compensation for the leader of the youngest publicly held U.S. automaker…

    Bloomberg
  • Putin Says Visa and MasterCard Will Lose Market Share

    Russian President Vladimir Putin said Visa Inc. (V) and MasterCard Inc. (MA) will lose market share in Russia after they blocked some transactions because of U.S. sanctions on individuals and banks. “We don’t see any steps to punish unconscionable partners, but they are undermining trust, hence…

    Bloomberg
  • Cramer: Tech stock heading to $70

    Jim Cramer looks at many metrics as he decides where to put money. And in the case of this tech firm, he's spotted something very bullish.

    CNBC
  • Why it may be time to fold on casinos

    Casino stocks have been on a winning streak. But is it time to fold them?

    Talking Numbers
  • Play

    Best Credit Card for Travel Rewards?

    WSJ travel columnist Scott McCartney discusses the new Orbitz reward credit card and others that up the ante for the travel rewards category on Lunch Break.

    WSJ Live
  • Here's why the biotech bounce may be short lived

    Will biotech get its mojo back or is it a dead cat bounce?

    Talking Numbers
  • Russia's Putin calls the Internet a 'CIA project'

    MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin on Thursday called the Internet a CIA project and made comments about Russia's biggest search engine Yandex, sending the company's shares plummeting.

    Associated Press
  • North Dakota finds more radioactive oil waste

    BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota confirmed Thursday the discovery of a new radioactive dump of waste from oil drilling, and separately a company hired to clean up waste found in February at another location said it removed double the amount of radioactive material originally estimated to be there.

    Associated Press
  • Postal workers' unions protest Staples program

    CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Postal workers in cities big and small protested in front of Staples stores on Thursday, objecting to the U.S. Postal Service's pilot program to open counters in stores, staffed with retail employees.

    Associated Press
  • Business Insider
  • Buffett disapproves of Coca-Cola's pay plan

    NEW YORK (AP) — Warren Buffett criticized Coca-Cola's pay plan for its executives on Wednesday.

    Associated Press
  • Pros and Cons of Paying Off Your Student Loans Early

    While paying off your student loans early seems like a no-brainer, it might not always be the best financial decision. Here are some of the pros and cons to paying off your student loans early, and some tips on how to pay them off. Paying off your student loan debt early can save you a good chunk…

    The Fiscal Times
  • US oil stockpiles hit record amid production boom

    US commercial oil stockpiles hit a new record last week on the strength of continued growth in oil and gas production in the world's biggest oil-consuming country. Commercial stocks rose 3.5 million barrels to 397.7 million barrels for the week ended April 18, according to US Energy Information…

    AFP
  • United loses $609M in 1Q; fares don't cover costs

    United Airlines is the one U.S. carrier that can't seem to get its act together.

    Associated Press
  • Study: US manufacturers gaining competitiveness

    WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. manufacturers have grown more competitive over the past decade compared with factories in China, Brazil and most of the world's other major economies.

    Associated Press
  • Play

    Wall Street Bracing for Key Tech Earnings

    Polya Lesova takes a look at the markets, including three stocks to watch today. Photo: Andrew St. Clair for The Wall Street Journal.

    WSJ Live
  • Amazon launches grocery service for Prime members

    NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon is taking aim at grocery stores and discounters like Wal-Mart with a grocery service that lets its Prime loyalty club members fill up to a 45-pound box with groceries and get it shipped for a flat rate of $5.99.

    Associated Press
  • Ex Wal-Mart CEO's deferred pay: $140 million

    Wal-mart CEO got $140 million in deferred pay, $20 million in stock gains

    USA TODAY