PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Secret audio recordings paint a grim economic picture for some workers at Liberty Medical Supply, Inc., in Port St. Lucie.
Once St. Lucie County's largest private employer, the company could soon be sending local jobs overseas. The information did not come from management at Liberty Medical, instead from recordings provided to NewsChannel 5 by an employee as the company fights to stay afloat.
Frank Harvey, President & CEO of Liberty Medical spoke to a group of his staffers on Wednesday. An employee, who will remain anonymous, secretly recorded audio of the closed-door town hall meeting.
"What we weren't willing to do was to sacrifice what we have all worked for our entire lives," Harvey can be heard telling a group of about sixty employees.
Harvey, along with Vice President of Operations, Arlene Rodriguez, were attempting to bring the staffers up to date on the company's ongoing bankruptcy case as well as combat any backlash from a recent move to reinstate the contracts of five top executives - allowing them to make higher salaries - while many workers have endured pay cuts and job uncertainty.
"When we start thinking about this 'huge financial benefit' that the management is getting, there is no financial benefit," said Rodriguez on the recording. "We know that there's risk. Did we know that all of the things were going to play out the way that they did? No," she said. "But we took the risk to keep the company alive and as many jobs available as we could."
Rodriguez and Harvey also alerted the staffers that some Treasure Coast jobs could soon be moving overseas to Manila in the Philippines.
"If we don't use that outsourcing for the things that we can get done there, we do not survive as a company," Harvey told the employees. "If we were try to do all these things in the U.S., we are not a profitable company, there would be no jobs," he said.
Dr. Edwin Moore, Chairman of the School of Management and International Business at Northwood University said Liberty Medical executives likely do not have many options outside of outsourcing.
"It's survival. It's that simple," said Moore. If the company wants to come out of bankruptcy and be profitable again there have to be some drastic decisions made. "Very often, these kinds of companies are forced to go to other places," he said. "And I don't think we're going to stop it, we're going to see a lot more things crossing borders."
There have been repeated attempts by NewsChannel 5 to have Harvey or any of the management respond to questions about the details of the staff meetings. There has yet to be any such response, but Harvey did say that it is against company policy to record or communicate the information from these meetings to anyone on the outside.
"There's no beating around the bush," said Harvey. "We don't have any alternative other than outsource some jobs to Manila."
There is no official word concerning the number of jobs that could be outsourced or when that process could take place.
NewsChannel 5 did not record the audio from the Liberty Medical meeting, nor was there knowledge that there was any such recording until the previously mentioned employee delivered the recordings.