Mere Corporate Thuggery, Nothing to Concern Yourself About

A little something I found disturbing, but don’t fret, nothing you need to get worked up about.

U.S. Department of the Interior
Outer Continental Shelf Safety Oversight Board

Report to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar
September 1, 2010

III. Inspections
D. Management Support (Analysis/Discussion)

• Most inspectors interviewed stated that industry often exerted pressure on them to minimize reporting violations during inspections. For example, personnel on a facility may make comments such as “there goes my bonus,” or “my wife is sick and I’ll lose my job.” Inspectors also reported that if they issued INCs [Incidents of Noncompliance], operators would sometimes call BOEMRE (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement) managers and complain about inspector behavior. For example, one inspector, new to the job, reported that on his first day on a platform he issued several INCs, and the company called to complain about his “rude and unprofessional behavior” before he returned to the office.

Reminds me of a familiar-to-all Marlon Brando movie:

(cue the melancholy theme music)

The Oilfather

(two BP employees talking in the lobby)

BP Employee 1: The COO is in an uncommonly good mood today. Hasn’t bitten anyone’s head off yet.
BP Employee 2: Jeez. I thought for sure when Margie forgot to use the green binders for the profit report, he was going to at least humiliate her good. Didn’t happen. I wonder what’s up with him? Must have gotten something special this morning from his girlfriend–couldn’t have gotten it from his wife.

(scene moves to the conference room where the BP Corporate Chief of Operations (COO), Tom (BP attorney and COO confidante), the chief at a Gulf oil rig, and several other BP executives)

BP Rig Chief: That new DOI inspector, Galen Chatterborg, has given the BlueSkyBlueSeasWonderfulPlanet oil drilling rig two INCs citations. (almost mumbling) Son of a bitch.

(in my best Godfather impersonation, ah-hem)

BP Corporate COO (calm, soothing): What do you suggest we do about this?

BP Rig Chief (frantic): We could stage an accident. I was thinking we could create a fake blow out and his dead carcass would be catapulted out to sea.

(The COO appearing a little surprised by the outburst, but delighted with the Chief’s ability to think on his feet)

BP Corporate COO (calm, soothing): I don’t think we need to resort to such harsh measures to deal with Mr. Chatterborg at this point. (pause) Let’s see what we can do from here. You needn’t worry about this matter anymore–we will handle it.

BP Rig Chief (frantic): But–

BP Corporate COO slowly rises to his feet and gestures with his hand that the conversation with the BP Rig Chief is over. A few lesser BP executives are alerted by the COO’s movement that they should ready themselves to escort the BP Rig Chief out of the conference room.

The BP Rig Chief, sheepishly gives the BP Corporate COO a slight tilt of the head in the affirmative, and then leaves the room along with the lesser BP executives.

BP Corporate COO: Tom, we will need to do something about this.

Tom (BP attorney and Chief of Staff to the Big Guy): My staff has done a little preliminary background work on Mr. Chatterborg. He has a new mortgage in New Orleans, two fairly new automobiles, and an older SUV. His wife, Becky, and him have been married for two years, and they have a masculine bun in the oven. He has been with the DOI for about a month, before that, graduated magna cum laude from the University of Michigan in environmental studies and forestry. That is all we have on him at this point. We are trying to find out where his wife works, but have not been able to find this out, yet.


BP Corporate COO: Give this job to Sarah Palin (his secretary and corporate flunky). Have her call Sam Smithers, the BOEMRE manager, and tell them that the new inspector they sent, Galen Chatterborg, exhibited rude and unprofessional behavior when he inspected the BlueSkyBlueSeasWonderfulPlanet oil drilling rig this afternoon. Be sure to tell her not to get carried away–after all, we are not thugs. (pause) He’s a bright boy, he’ll know what he has to do.

(clap, clap, clap, cheer)

Good theatre, but not particularly pleasant from the point of view of the DOI inspector.

. . .

Galen Chatterborg, is a pleasant fellow, just finished up college, with honors too! Worked for the forest service when he was a boy and always wanted to be a forest ranger. Not in the cards, I guess, but he still has hopes of someday becoming a ranger, but this job was what was available at the time and, being a married man with a baby on the way, he had to take what he could get.

Galen’s wife is a pretty girl who he met and married while they were both still in college. They have a child on the way (a boy, but Becky is withholding this from Galen, until their Anniversary, three days from today).

Galen has only been inspecting rigs for the Department of Interior for a month and has inspected three so far. One was an Exxon rig, and the other two were owned by Conoco-Phillips. Pretty clean, he thought, and their maintenance crews were top notch.

Today he inspected a BP oil rig called the BlueSkyBlueSeasWonderfulPlanet rig. Sure, we all know that BP markets itself as the environmental oil company, but we all know that this is far from the truth. BP does their seemingly environmentally conscious marketing just to keep the natives happily confused.

When Galen arrived back at the DOI after the inspection, he was called into his bosses office and told that he was reported for “rude and unprofessional behavior” by some ignorant-sounding woman at BP. Galen told his boss, and several witnesses, everything that had happened at the rig. The violations that he had written up in the two Incidents of Noncompliance citations.

Galen left his bosses office understanding that this was simply a “shot across the bow” by BP, and he shouldn’t be too alarmed about it. But, he does understand, now, how he is expected to do his job. Make waves and the pressure would get much, much worse; or, stop reporting violations and live long and prosper. Remember, at home, you have a beautiful wife who is carrying your child.

No righteous person should ever have to make this choice. So, what will it be–preserving his self respect, or the job. Self respect will not protect his family and their middle-class lifestyle.

The American people should not tolerate their employees being intimidated by corporations who clearly are not working in the best interests of the people of this great nation, nor the people of the world.

Nothing to get worked up about. This is just how some corporations operates these days. What a shameful bunch of thugs.