The Miami Herald just published an article about Arnold Donald, who has now spent one year at the helm of Carnival Corporation after Micky Arison selected him following a series of disasters (Costa Concordia, Carnival Triumph, etc.) The article is entitled One Year In, Carnival CEO Arnold Donald is Working to Right the Ship.
Unfortunately, the Herald article is mostly a feel-good piece. The reporter interviewed only Mr. Donald’s friends, other cruise executives or financial analysts. It contained absolutely no critical insight into Mr. Donald.
There’s no question that Mr. Donald is an interesting and impressive fellow, growing up in up in New Orleans as a child and overcoming the challenges which came with being an African-American born in the 1950’s in the deep south. He excelled as a student and became a successful executive of chemical-giant Monsanto Corporation. He’s certainly no born-with-a-silver-spoon-in-his-mouth Micky Arison.
But what has he done for the crew members, who are the heart and soul of the company, after joining Carnival?
In my assessment, Carnival cruise ship employees are collectively in their worst shape in the forty-plus history of the company. They are working harder than ever before for less money and fewer benefits. Shortly after Mr. Donald appeared on the scene, Carnival gutted the meager retirement benefits of its crew members. I mentioned the massacre of the retirement program in an article entitled Cruise CEO Arnold Donald’s First Blunder: Carnival Guts Crew Retirement Benefits.
Like other cruise line employees, Carnival crew members have no union representation and no bargaining power. Carnival can easily exploit them. Mr. Donald has taken the exploitation to a higher level.
You can read the thoughts and comments of Carnival ship employees in this article on our Facebook page.
Mr. Donald has also drawn the ire of unionized workers in a company, Crown Holdings, in Canada where he sits on the board of directors. Crown became involved in a labor dispute after it demanded that Crown’s new employees agree to wage cuts. When the union employees would not agree, Crown replaced them with non-union workers.
In response to Mr. Donald’s actions, the United Steel Workers (USW) of Canada recently organized a boycott of Carnival cruise brands. The boycott includes the million-member Ontario Labor Federation and the 500,000-member Congress of Union Retirees of Canada.
Terminating employees for complaining about working conditions or wages is nothing new for Carnival. In 2012, Carnival fired and black-balled 150 cruise ship waiters from India who protested low wages.
Mr. Donald has an interesting past and he brings a dynamic personality to Carnival. But he’s the perfect business executive to continue the cruise giant’s exploitation of its crew members.
Photo Credit: Top – Businessweek via Power in a Union; bottom – LaborNotes.org.