A small army of Singer pensioners were capsized, while two Singer executives, President Goodman and his lawyer, were personally awarded the full amount struck from Singer's international pension fund.
My father Jack Martin, General Manager of Singer in Argentina, was fired in the late 1960s, along with many of Singer's international managers, when Singer began to lose its moorings. After six painful months, he was hired by another multinational and managed to accumulate a new pension for his retirement. Others weren't so lucky. I contacted Joan Comber, whose husband Jack Comber, a close friend of my father's when they worked together in Mexico, was also fired by Singer in the late 1960s. He spent two years looking unsuccessfully for new employment before succumbing to a heart attack. He was 52 years old. Joan was bitter in our telephone interview, blaming Singer for his death. After agreeing to meet me, she phoned back to cancel our appointment; her phlebitis had flared up. She was admitted to hospital the following day, and died shortly afterwards.
The story of Singer pensioners and their widows is a sad one. A small army of retired Singer executives have watched with shock and dismay the dismantling of this once great company. I have met several - colleagues, friends and former bosses of my father. Their stories about their days with Singer are captivating, heartening, and bittersweet.
One man, whom I knew as a teenager when he was my father's boss in Singer's international division, tells me he retired with three pensions from Singer, representing the three Singer branches he worked in during his long career. The first pension was wiped out when the company was restructured in the early 1980s, the second when Paul Bilzerian, the corporate raider, took over Singer and broke it apart in 1988.
His third, smallest and last pension, from the portion of his career spent in Singer's international operations, was wiped out after James Ting disappeared in 1999 with hundreds of millions of Singer dollars. Steve Goodman, an employee of Ting's, was named President and started bankruptcy proceedings shortly thereafter. He was able to take Singer out of "Chapter 11" after persuading a New York lawyer to agree to the restructuring of Singer's debt, which included wiping out the entire pension fund for Singer's international executives.
Many Singer pensioners and their widows around the world are now living out their days in penury, while Singer executives pocket what remains.