Two thoughts on this.Yes, Clipper could have kept all the workers with little financial loss (compared to all the retrofit projects), however it does not make business sense to have 300 people standing around not doing anything all day.
All of us that still work for Clipper are aware of the design problems and management problems, but I think we like to overlook it, and just be happy that we still have a job.
Firstly, with the large amount of quality/design issues that were/are occurring, I'm guessing there were plenty of things those people who got laid off could have been doing rather than standing around. I know from my experience there, I could have easily kept 2 or 3 other people busy for 40+ hours a week trying to manage my workload alone. I even suggested this to my boss, but that fell on deaf ears.
Secondly, I disagree that people are looking the other way on the design issues (at least for the most part). A lot of people spent (and are presumably still spending) a lot of time trying to fix all the issues - there were an unbelievable amount of them. I do, however, agree that people look the other way when it comes to management issues for the exact reason you cited. People there are happy to have jobs and many feel they are lucky to have not gotten laid off.
Bear with me here, this is going to be a bit of a stretch for an anology... but statistically it's usually not advantageous to play the lottery. We could sit here and say that anyone who plays the lottery is stupid. However, anyone that has won the lottery before will disagree... cause they're millionaires. It's hard to argue with that.
What I'm getting at is that anyone who still has a job there is obviously more willing to overlook poor management decisions
because, hey, at least they still have a job.
After being laid off, I was offered another job within the company for an increase in pay in a different department. I chose to decline this offer becuase I honestly couldn't see how Clipper could continue to stay open, let alone to actually become profitable and offer longterm security as my employer. If for nothing other than the local economy, I hope I'm wrong... but Clipper won't be successful without vast management changes.