Angry Beijing Workers Seize American Boss
Local officials taking their side, he complains
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 24, 2013 2:03 AM CDT
Chip Starnes, co-owner of Specialty Medical Supplies, waves from a window after he was held hostage by workers inside his plant on the outskirts of Beijing.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

(Newser) – "I feel like a trapped animal," an American factory boss besieged by workers at a medical supply plant in Beijing tells the AP. Chip Starnes says he has been held captive for four days by a hundred workers demanding severance packages like those given to colleagues in a phased-out department—even though he says they aren't being laid off. Starnes says the workers have been keeping him awake by shining bright lights and banging on his office windows, and local officials have pressured him to meet their demands.

"I think it's inhumane what is going on right now," says Starnes. "I have been in this area for 10 years and created a lot of jobs and I would never have thought in my wildest imagination something like this would happen." A police spokesman says, "there was a labor dispute between the workers and the company management and the dispute is being solved"—and he can guarantee Starnes' safety. Starnes refuses to say how much money is at stake.

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Jun 25, 2013 1:04 PM CDT
To be fair there was another good reason for doing business in China besides slave labor. Being in the medical supply business he would have to satisfy the FDA if he were in the US.
Jun 25, 2013 12:52 PM CDT
There must be a way of blaming Obama for this. First for allowing Mr. Starnes to continually outsource jobs to China and second for not threatening the Chinese government with retaliation for allowing workers to harass him for severance packages they don't deserve. But as usual Obama's busy with other stuff - like pacifying congress. Of course, if Starnes just fires the whole lot of those discontented workers, they could legally get their severance packages and he could find some new (preferably American) employees to replace them.
Jun 25, 2013 8:10 AM CDT
Rumor is they are commissioning a study of the advantages of outsourcing the guard duties to North Korea