Law links | Main | No particular place to go

Sunday, April 13, 2003

NAFTA is alive and kicking

Try to make sense of this situation.

Maytag will be closing their refrigerator plant in Galesburg, Illinois. They will replace it with a new plant in Reynosa, Mexico. This will be Maytag's third plant in Reynosa. Maytag taking 800 Illinois jobs to Mexico; Appliance maker will close Galesburg plant by late 2004.

So many questions unanswered. Or, at least, insufficiently answered.

Maytag's move from Galesburg to Reynosa is being promoted by the McAllen Economic Development Corp., of McAllen, Texas. McAllen is right across the border from Reynosa. When I first read that, I wondered, what's in it for the town of McAllen? Then I read it again and realized that it's not the town. It's a corporation. Ahh. Presumably, the plant managers will be Americans who will want to live in McAllen.

Initially, 800 Galesburg workers will be out of work. Ultimately, 1400 workers will lose their jobs. Maytag isn't telling how many new jobs will be created in Reynosa. The development corporation, however, estimates that a plant that size will employ somewhere in the 500 to 1000 range. Do those numbers compute? Not quite.

The state of Illinois gave Maytag $7.5 million. The city of Galesburg gave $3 million. The Galesburg workers belong to a union which made concessions to Maytag as an incentive to keep the plant going. Since 1994, Maytag took that money and those concessions, but decided to make the move anyway. Can we get our money back? No, probably not.

Whirlpool, Black & Decker, In-sink-erator and Kohler are among the 204 firms that have built low-cost plants in Reynosa known as "maquiladoras." Now, 75,000 Reynosa workers are employed in maquiladoras.

Maytag says it's making this move to become or stay competitive with other appliance manufacturers. And for profits. So, that's what it's all about, eh? What about the cost of their products that will be sold in America? Rhetorical question, obviously.

The Galesburg union workers average $15.00 an hour. The Reynosa workers, who we can assume won't have a union, will average $2.60 an hour. Average. That means some less, some more, right? Two sixty an hour for 40 hours comes out to $104 a week. Is the cost of living so low in Reynosa that one could actually live on $104 a week, much less support a family?

[...] the shift of heavy manufacturing to Mexican border cities has sparked criticism, if not stunned disbelief, in America's heartland.

Yeah, really.

Posted by Marie at April 13, 2003 10:24 PM


Wow, that's almost unbelievable. At the very least, unethical. That's very sad for the Galesburg community, I'm guessing. Loosing an industry that has that many employees has got to have an impact on everything. :(

Posted by: kristine at April 14, 2003 6:55 PM

Electrolux is also building a refrigerator plant in Mexico and there is talk of closing their 2 USA plants which will put over 5000 people out of work. If this continues to happen, there will be no need to ship Mexican built appliances back into the USA for retail sale because no one will have a job and can afford to buy anything. Wake up American workers!

Posted by: Mark at September 1, 2003 1:18 PM

I am one of the 1600 employees of the Galesburg Refrigeration Plant, who will lose their jobs to coporate greed. I have been employed at Maytag for a little over ten years. Words cannot express the devestation that has come to our lives. You hear about people losing jobs, and plant closures all the time, but you don't realize the effect it has on a person until it happens to you. I have 5 children and I can't help but wonder what their future will be like. When is our government gonna step in and say "enough is enough"? I am not going to dwell on the sadness of this closure. I just want others to know that it can happen to you. There is no such thing as job security anymore. The Maytag corporation says that it has no further plans to shutdown American factories, but we were also told that there were no plans to shutdown our plant just months before they made the announcement.

Posted by: devestated at September 11, 2003 7:15 PM

I support manufacturers all over the world with electronic components. I had a huge data base of customers and made a good living. But then it started to happen plant shut down after plant shut down. My data base has been cut by 3/4 and I lost a lot of firends and biz partners, jobs are beeing lost every day. I lost mine in 2001 and was lucky to go back to work for my old boss. But it is getting harder and harder. I live with job loss fear every single day and can't sleep at night. I don't know why or President has turned his back on the American worker! Bush has signed a bill called the Singapore Chili Bill in which 5,400 visas will be issured each year to Singaporeans so they can come to the US and take more IT jobs from us and these visas can be extended indef. the amount of visas for Chili is not as high. Oh and then there is the FTAA bill that will put so many American's out of work it is scary. Americans have to start fighting for our jobs. Look up CNN: Lou Dobbs Night Line Exporting of America. There is more going on than you think! Also go on the Teamsters website and look up the Sigapore Chili Bill and The FTAA. Our gov. has done a good job of hiding the vote and the TRUTH about these bills. I pray for all my fellow Americans who have lost there jobs but I am also fighting to stop it!!!! God Bless America!!!!!

Posted by: Lisa at October 3, 2003 1:46 PM

My family came to the US in the 1800's. Most of them couldn't speak English but looked for a better future for their families. I would venture to guess that none of your families are from the US. I remember hearing in school that the US was the "Great American Melting Pot" which meant that everyone here was from somewhere else and that was the reason it was SO GREAT. Most people today have never heard the US refered to as such. I guess my point is that who cares who you work for? Who cares if you work for the Japanese? Who cares that the Maytag-Galesburg plant is closing? The reason the country is so great is the fact that we have more oppurtunities than other countries and other countries have more oppurtunities here also. I think if you don't like the fact that Maytag is closing their plant in Galesburg, go work for Toyota in Indiana. Go work for Nissan in Kentucky. You may have to travel some hundreds of miles but it is a hell of alot closer then Germany or Mexico. Although many American companies are moving plants to other countries to stay competitive, other countries are moving plants here to stay competitive. If I were you, I would continue to buy what is best for you. This country has been very successful since the beginning and will continue to do the same. We all need to do the best for our families even if we have to make some sacrifices.

Posted by: Robert Ingle at October 22, 2003 9:28 PM

I cannot even start to understand how an American can not care about our jobs moving to another county! Do you not understand the impact that this is having on America? You say go to work for Toyota or Nissan. What happen when those plants decide to move to Mexico or Korea or another country because they can get cheaper labor? What will you say then? It is not just the Galesburg plant that is closing, it is happening all over this great country. What happens when there are no more jobs to be found here? Can you support a family on minimum wage? In case you haven't noticed things that we need for our daily survival have not gotten any cheaper. Matter of fact the cost of living has skyrocketed!!!! My point is that there has to be a point when we as Americans stand up and say that enough is enough! What this boils down to is CORPORATE GREED!!!! It is not that companies are not making money here in the U.S. They just are not making what they feel is enough. Maytag has NEVER had a year when they didn't make millions in profits. I don't know about you, but I don't feel that I need more money than I can possibly spend in a lifetime. I am all for making a good life for me and my children. But part of that means to leave something here for them too. If it comes down to sacrificing many livlihoods in order for me to make that extra buck, it just isn't worth it. Especially when I already have enough to live without any worries. That is just the way I was raised. Just for the record....I am a native American. My family was here long before any other and I would like to see them stay here.

Posted by: devestated at November 12, 2003 10:06 AM

I work for a manufacturing company in Atlanta Ga. As a buyer i have seen alot of plants going out of business. What pisses me off is that WE AMERICANS have built these companies with our Bare Hands and our hard earned dollar purchasing their products and they repay us with shutting down plants to increase profit. I don't see the price of cars or any other products going down from the cheaper labor (can you say GREED). We built these Companies and they betray us like this. Our Government in my opinion has caused alot of these problems with NAFTA and other implemented bills that was passed by our paid of elected officials. We need to call these people on the phone and give them a piece of our minds. Emails just don't work. But I guarantee you one thing. If you knock on their door they will notice........ Go to town hall meetings and demand that your elected official do something about this tragedy. Tell them they need to abolish NAFTA and any other agreement like it. Then see how fast those companies bring those plants back into America...... Time to raise hell America.... We should be fed up with our Federal Government passing stupid agreements like NAFTA that hurt America. They need to down size just like all the rest of America has to do..... And the payoffs from the Big Corporations need to stop. OUR GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS NEED TO LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE NOT THE SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS AND BIG LOBBY MONIES..... ROAR AMERICA LET THEM HEAR OUR VOICE!!!!!!! Don't stop here... Call them.... Write them... Attend meetings... let them know you know what's happening.. Ask them point blank what they are doing to fix it...

Posted by: Wayne Jarrett at November 19, 2003 1:08 PM

Thank you CNN for your indepth story on Galesburg, Illinois, and the Maytag corp.'s
treachery towards we workers.

I personally have worked for three different companies that have moved American jobs to outside of our borders.
Enough is enough, Corporate greed has to be stopped...our jobs brought back....and illegal immigrants sent back to their homes at least
until Americans have our jobs and lives BACK.
We have five children, four of them grown.
None of them are here in Illinois.
They were forced to leave to find work to support their families.

Bring back our JOBS and our DIGNITY.

Posted by: another sad family at January 7, 2004 12:55 PM