Monday, March 1, 2010

Keep these Jobs "Made in America"

Community, Labor Unite with
IUE-CWA at Whirlpool Rally

When more than 5,500 workers and community and religious activists from at least six states converged in front of the Whirlpool plant in Evansville, Ind., members of IUE-CWA led the way to deliver the message to “Keep It Made in America.”

Local 808 President Darrell Collins said:

We have had small rallies before and Whirlpool ignored us! They will not ignore us today! This is just the beginning of something big. We will carry this fight on till it changes. There is no limit to what we can accomplish as long as we work together.

One of the Whirlpool workers who stands to lose her job is Natalie Ford. A member of Local 808, Ford told the rally:

This doesn’t just affect us, it affects everyone in our families….This is the only life we’ve known—now it’s gone. The questions run through my mind: Am I going to lose everything I’ve worked my entire life for? I try to be strong for my family, but deep down I’m scared to death, not knowing what the future holds for us.

Speaking amid an increasing crescendo of cheers and applause, Communications Workers of America (CWA) Vice President Seth Rosen told the energized crowd that although some people “blame us for what they call ‘legacy costs’: union wages, health care, pension for retirees”:

There is a legacy from those things. You know what that legacy is? Every firehouse in Evansville, Ind., is a legacy of the tax dollars of union workers making a middle-class wage. Every school house is a legacy of the people who work in this plant.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, along with 40 people, including children and grandchildren of workers, clergy and retirees, used a Whirlpool refrigerator to wheel petitions with 70,000 signatures to the plant’s locked front gate. At the same time, as coordinated with the Michigan AFL-CIO, the Machinists delivered more than 40,000 signatures on petitions to the Whirlpool headquarters in Michigan. The petitions urged Whirlpool executives to reconsider their decision to shutter the Evansville plant, laying off 1,100 people and moving jobs to Mexico. Union members also made more than 1,700 phone calls in one day to Whirlpool headquarters in Benton Harbor, Mich., and the Evansville offices with the same message. IUE-CWA Local 808 represents 900 of the 1,100 workers.
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