Friday, February 26, 2010

Whirlpool Moves 1,100 Jobs To Mexico After Receiving $20 Million in Stimulus Money

Sam Stein has an excellent report on Whirlpool workers being threatened with lower chances of future employment (blacklisting??) if workers speak out on Whirlpool moving their jobs to Mexico.  Whirlpool Corporation has announced it is shutting down its Evansville Indiana refrigerator plant and moving its operations to Mexico where it can find a cheaper labor pool.  That means 1,100 lost jobs for the community.  Of course the workers were very angry and pointed to the fact Whirlpool Corporation had received $20 million from the President's economic stimulus package.  Union leaders have petitioned local and state leaders to find positive alternatives, in order to keep the plant in Evansville.

Activists planned an attention getting protest for this Friday (that would be today, the 26th Feb) with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka attending.  But Whirlpool says this effort is pointless, they have already made their decision to move the jobs to Mexico.  Whirlpool still seems to be very conscious of the chance of bad publicity and damage to the company image if more people know about the shifting of the 1,100 jobs to Mexico.  Paul Coburn,  Vice-pres. for Whirlpool's Evansville operations, sent a memo to all employees with a not so subtle threat of loss of future job opportunities to workers who protest.  And here I quote directly Coburn's memo which is included in Sam Stein's piece (my italics and my bold):

"In the last six months we have delivered strong results in spite of having to see a good deal of our equipment taken out of the building and moved to its new location. I believe that it is a testament to your character that you have continued to work hard to preserve the positive reputation of the Evansville workforce during this period," Coburn writes.
"With this in mind, we have shared our concern with Local 808 leaders that these negative activities will only hamper employees when they look for future jobs. The entire community is aware and sympathetic towards the situation we all face. We fear that potential employers will view the actions of a few and determine whether they would want to hire any of Evansville Division employees in the future. We hope that this is not the case, but think it is certainly a consideration."

Apparently, it's not enough for Whirlpool to ship their workers' jobs overseas, Whirlpool also wants to make sure it kills their right to free speech and kills their chances of future employment.

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