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February 19, 2010

Whirlpool Bites Hands Of American Taxpayers That Feed It

-- by Dave Johnson

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Whirlpool, recipient of federal stimulus "smart grid" dollars, is closing an Evansville, Indiana freezer-topped refrigerator and icemaker production plant and moving the 1,100 jobs to Mexico.

Whirlpool knows that taxpayers will shoulder the unemployment and other costs. Closing a plant like this also means all the supplier, transportation and other third-party jobs go away. For example, 100+ Disabled Workers Could Lose Jobs

Whirlpool employees aren't the only ones losing their jobs when the plant closes. More than 100 blind or disabled individuals could also be left jobless. The Evansville Association for the Blind has issued a public plea, asking businesses to consider using their employees.

There will be more home foreclosures, and local businesses are stressed or have to go out of business. Whirlpool is profiting from making all this someone else's problem.

Whirlpool is even playing nearby Iowa against Indiana, shaking the state down for millions to move just 60 of the 1,100 jobs there.

So, of course, Wall Street celebrates the move, the setting states against each other, the cost-shifting and the resulting "increase in margins."

The workers are still trying to do something about this. Inside Indiana Business writes about a rally on February 26,

Organizers have invited guests including AFL/CIO President Richard Trumka and Jim Clark, president of the IUE-CWA union with which Local 808 is affiliated.

Employees with the least seniority are expected to lose their jobs first, March 26. The remaining workers will be let go until production ceases in early summer.


Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO President, writes:

The Whirlpool Corp. is closing a refrigerator manufacturing plant in Evansville, Ind., putting more than 1,100 people out of work. Even worse, Whirlpool will continue to produce these refrigerators, but not in Evansville and not anywhere else in America. They are planning to manufacture them in Mexico, where weaker labor and environmental laws make them “cheaper” for Whirlpool to produce.

This is outrageous and unacceptable, especially in light of Whirlpool’s profitability and the $19 million dollars in economic recovery money Whirlpool recently received from the federal government as a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Those are OUR economic recovery funds, not Mexico’s.

You can sign their Whirlpool: Keep It Made in America petition here.

Will Congress listen?

Posted by Dave Johnson at February 19, 2010 11:32 AM


Comments

Perhaps what is needed is a truth in manufacturing label attached to all major appliances, TV's, washers, driers, any product requiring more than 100 workers to produce. The label would have a brief history of the product; who first manufactured it, who owns the patents, where it was historically manufactured and how many people were employed in the process. Then, if production is no longer in the US, where are the major production plants now, how many workers are employed and what is the average wage and benefit package. The kicker, printed in 18 point bold, would be the cost to the US for losing this bit of manufacturing. What was the cost in jobs, taxes, manufacturing expertise, R&D; the total hit to the American economy.

I said label but it should be the first printed page in any instruction manual or product use booklet. Even if consumers ignore this bit of history, over time it may sink in that the US is looking more and more like a third world country and we, collectively, need to open our eyes and realize who is partly responsible.

The loss of our manufacturing base will eventually sink the US economy. It's becoming painfully evident, even to the dimmest commentators that the growing body of employed is having a devastating effect of our economy, more than any Government deficit.

Posted by: utahrambler [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2010 7:28 AM

We've seen this movie before: Obama said he would work on behalf of Galesburg, IL, Maytag unionized workers who were losing their jobs due to Maytag moving jobs to Mexico.

Amborin posted about this in March of 2008, quoting from a Chi Tribune story of 2/1/2008 -- I can't remember my sign-in info for the ChiTrib and can't get in so will quote Amborin:

Maytag union says Obama did little to save jobs

BYLINE: By Bob Secter, Chicago Tribune

GALESBURG, Ill. _ Maytag workers whose jobs were shipped to Mexico serve as consistent characters in Barack Obama's stump speech. He employs their stories in railing against corporations that use trade pacts to replace well-paid union workers with low-cost foreign ones.

It is a ready applause line for the Illinois presidential hopeful, one that he has been reciting almost verbatim since he was a candidate for U.S. Senate in 2004, when appliance giant Maytag was in the process of shutting a refrigerator plant here, putting 1,600 people out of work.

But the union that represented most of those Galesburg workers isn't impressed with Obama's advocacy and has endorsed his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. Its leaders say they wish he had done more about their members' plight.

What rankles some is what Obama did not do even as he expressed solidarity four years ago with workers mounting a desperate fight to save their jobs.

Obama had a special connection to Maytag: Lester Crown, one of the company's directors and biggest investors whose family, records show, has raised tens of thousands of dollars for Obama's campaigns since 2003. But Crown says Obama never raised the fate of the Galesburg plant with him, and the billionaire industrialist insists any jawboning would have been futile. (My emphasis in last paragraph)

Special relationship with a big corporate official? Gee, whodathunkit. Of course, there's also that walkback from strong regulation of Exelon's nuke plant leaks which contaminated well water of Sen. Obama's constituents....

Ah, the senator is parent to the president in dealing with Big Corporations?

Posted by: jawbone [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2010 11:27 AM

"seeing the forest"? Hardly. Whirlpool is closing the Evansville plant because top mount refrigerators are not selling. People prefer bottom mount refrigerators. Which is why Whirlpool is expanding Amana, IA and moving top mount to Mexico. It's called "economies of scale".

And did you notice that Whirlpool just REOPENED the Ottawa, Ohio FREEZER PLANT? My friend you are looking at trees and missing the forest entirely.

Manufacturing in the United States is difficult. The cost of doing business is rediculously high even with the tax incentives. The best thing we can do to keep manufacturing in the U.S. is pass a comprehensive healthcare reform bill that includes a single payer option. That would allow companies to spend thier money on innovation, employee training and wages instead of healthcare premiums.

Posted by: John Buck [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 22, 2010 8:40 AM

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