Toys ‘R’ Us Workers Take on Private Equity Vultures

Negin Owliaei Researcher, Institute for Policy Studies

It was once the biggest toy company in the world. But Toys ‘R’ Us  turned off the lights in its remaining stores for the last time on Friday, becoming the most recent casualty of Wall Street greed.

As Toys ‘R’ Us first began its descent into bankruptcy and liquidation, it was seen as another point on the “retail apocalypse” continuum, with many in the media blaming e-commerce and changing shopping habits for store bankruptcies around the country. But the narrative is shifting to place the blame on the private equity firms that purchased the company with a leveraged buyout in 2005, only to saddle it with billions of dollars in debt.

That shift is due in no small part to the biggest victims of the buyout — the more than 30,000 Toys ‘R’ Us employees now out of a job. Those workers aren’t letting the store close without a fight for fair severance, and consequences for the Wall Street firms that turned a profit while leaving them in financial insecurity.

Tens of thousands of people signed petitions calling on Toys ‘R’ Us owners to pay workers out of the sizeable private equity profits. Workers gathered in Bain Capital’s New York City lobby, creating a mock graveyard to mourn the toy store “killed by Wall Street greed.” They protested at the private equity firms that owned the company, outside the home of former CEO David Brandon, and within their local stores.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

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