A recent editorial about her father by Maria Thomas-Fisher in the (Rochester, NY) Democrat & Chronicle provides yet another example of the impact of corporate buyouts, the outsourcing of American manufacturing and the value of an IAM contract.
Thomas-Fisher’s father, Pete Thomas, a 43-year employee and former IAM Local 2313 President, is among the few remaining factory employees at Getinge in Henrietta, NY. The workers will all soon lose their jobs, as the Swedish company moves production of medical sterilizers to its factory in Poland.
He values the experience and training he received from “old-timer” machinists and has always possessed a strong work ethic. He fears that essential institutional knowledge is lost when jobs are sent overseas. He will be retiring with a pension thanks to the IAM but worries about the next generation of machinists. He also worries about the long-term future of a country that doesn’t manufacture the products it depends on.
One of the most difficult parts of this closure has been seeing his coworkers with young families lose their jobs. Some of them are still looking for decent replacement jobs.
“He feels that many blue-collar Republican voters are turning against Republican politicians due to their actions and inaction on international trade agreements,” wrote Thomas-Fisher. “He believes in trade agreements but doesn’t think they should be done so at the disadvantage of American workers.”
Thomas believes the government needs to eliminate tax structures that effectively reward companies that move work overseas. He also believes in an international minimum wage and that foreign companies included in trade agreements must meet all of the health, safety and environmental standards of other nations the agreements represent.
“My dad is politically conservative but is also a steadfast supporter and proud member of the International Association of Machinists,” wrote Fisher-Thomas. “Because of this, he is lucky enough to retire with a union pension.”