PetSmart’s private equity owner, BC Partners, is once again being questioned about working conditions and operations—this time from a U.S. senator.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren sent a letter on Nov. 2 addressed to Raymond Svider, partner and chairman of BC Partners, in response to a recent report issued by United for Respect that alleges that “BC Partners’ operational mismanagement degrades working conditions and puts animals at risk,” according to media reports.
“We have long been concerned that some private equity funds implement severe cost-cutting measures after acquiring companies, aiming to boost profits for themselves at the expense of workers, consumers, and taxpayers,” Warren’s letter, which was co-signed by Rep. Mark Pocan, said. “Given recent reports, we are concerned that BC Partners may have followed—and may continue to be following—the same model.”
United for Respect, a worker rights group, recently issued a petition on behalf of PetSmart employees requesting that BC Partners do better for PetSmart workers and animals alike by guaranteeing a safe work environment, adequate staffing and training, benefits and job protections, among other requests.
In September, United for Respect published its Greed Unleashed: PetSmart, BC Partners, and what happens when private equity preys on workers and pets report that cites a July 2020 letter signed by hundreds of employees to BC Partners, asking that they provide personal protective equipment, hazard pay and enforced social distancing protocols. At the time the report was published, employees did not receive a response from BC Partners.
A BC Partners spokesperson said in a statement that the retailer spent millions of dollars on personal protective equipment as well as $150 million in additional employee compensation, according to a Retail Dive story.
Warren recently reintroduced the Stop Wall Street Looting Act, to reform the private equity industry and level the playing field by forcing private investment firms to take responsibility for the outcomes of companies they take over.
In the letter, Warren and Pocan asked BC Partners to provide information on the “steps it’s taken to combat a reported rise in pet deaths and for detailed information about staffing, pay and disclosures about its fees, returns and other retail businesses,” Bloomberg reported. This information would help in their approach to passing the bill, the letter said.
A representative for BC Partners didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Bloomberg.