I wish more board members and upper management had this sort of mentality, typically it's whats the cheapest while keeping the quality loss to a minimum.. in some cases quality of the work and end product suffer greatly as they milk the company dry before filing bankruptcy.
I think they do have this mentality, at least at most companies. My day job is for one of the companies sure to be listed anytime you ask someone to name the "10 most evil" or "10 worst" or any such list of companies in America. It's a company that has gone through serious well publicized reorganization over the last 5 years including laying off thousands of employees and has received no end of bad press because of all of it.
I'm with the company precisely because their board realized that they needed to improve drastically in some areas of their business and, despite ongoing re-orgs and layoffs, decided they needed to spend more in other areas to get better talent. (NOTE: I'm not saying they decided to hire me specifically, I'm not that important, but the specific hiring program that brought me into the company was a result of this 'must spend more to get better' mentality). Once companies cross into the large corporation realm it's never as simple as "keep people" or "lay them off". Layoffs and hiring programs are themselves strategic programs just like new products are. They are considered both on individual merits, that is the benefits of laying off group X or hiring in section Y, as well as on their strategic organizational benefits (just like new products are evaluated on how they fit within the company's portfolio of products).
By selling off everything not nailed down,reducing the crews to a skeleton and dropping union workers for untrained labor.
I have no idea in your particular case and won't pretend to speak to that, but as a general rule the bad place that union labor finds itself in today is largely its own fault. When unions shifted from their industrial revolution focus on actual safe working conditions and assuring a living wage to the modern day collective bargaining for ever-improving pay and benefits no matter what it was only a matter of time before unions priced their members out of the market. The thing that kept unions going despite this behavior was the lack of an alternative (a unionized company had no other choice but to deal with the labor union in question).
That changed in the last 15 years as states realized they could offer right to work conditions while still requiring the company meet some minimum level of safety and working condition quality (the original concern of unions). It's the reason companies like Boeing are opening new plants in non-union states and the reason why the Big Three autos have tried to move away from union states. Those non-union plants will be just as safe and manned by as qualified engineers as the union plants, but at a fraction of the cost which is the only way for those companies to compete globally. Unions, as a general organizational category, failed at the long game by not making allowances for things like economic conditions under which the company operates.
A good example is the local teachers unions for the districts around where I live. Through the last five years, while everyone who works in NYC was going through wage freezes and layoffs and fear of layoffs and ever increasing local property taxes to make up the gaps of exploding public sector expenses, teacher's unions were threatening to strike every year if they didn't get their 6% annual raise, COLA, and increased yearly vacation (as examples among other things). Because of this, there is a strong public backlash throughout the region against the local teachers' unions, who until recently enjoyed status as an untouchable group. Entirely their own fault.
My larger point is that, like almost everything in life, this discussion isn't black and white. It's not "company X wants to lay everyone off because they are evil" and "company Y pays great because they are the good guys". People here commend SD as a great place to work, but SD received no end of grief after WOM when they laid people off as a result of its bad launch. Companies operate to stay in business and to protect their shareholders money. This is the purpose as an organization. They do this by making good decisions and pushing out good products (or services). Labor is merely a component of that. It's the failure of our government to provide a stable, predictable environment for companies to operate that has led to the hoarding of cash and the anemic growth. Under the current economic conditions companies are doing what responsible companies should be doing. If you want to rage against those at fault, rage against those who create the terrible economic conditions.