WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, during a Senate Finance Committee hearing, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) continued to push for action and advocate on behalf of workers at the GE-Savant plant in Bucyrus, and a tax code that supports American manufacturing. During the hearing, entitled “Made in America: Effect of the U.S. Tax Code on Domestic Manufacturing,” Brown questioned expert Ohio witnesses on steps that can be taken to halt closures and layoffs like the most recent GE Bucyrus layoffs of 81 local workers and production being sent overseas.
Brown questioned United Steelworkers (USW) District Director Donnie Blatt of Columbus, Ohio specifically on what happens to U.S. workers and factories when parts of a supply chain are moved overseas. Blatt highlighted how moving these companies puts pressure on other local plants across the state, like the GE Lighting plant in Logan, which makes the glass for remaining assembly lines in Bucyrus. Blatt also emphasized the importance of investing in manufacturing companies so that these jobs are available to workers now and in the future.
More on Brown’s hearing exchange is included below and video is available HERE:
Brown: “Last week, 81 workers in Bucyrus, Ohio saw their jobs outsourced to China. The Bucyrus City Council and the union [IUE-CWA local 84704] offered to find ways to save the jobs. I sent a letter to the company offering to work with the stakeholders to find a solution.
“GE-Savant refused. Now, 81 workers face tough conversations at kitchen tables – about how their families survive, what do we do next? In this case, GE Lighting’s plant in Logan, Ohio, makes the glass for remaining assembly lines in Bucyrus, and its workers belong to the USW.
“So Mr. Blatt, briefly, what happens to U.S. workers and factories when parts of a supply chain like that move overseas?”
United Steelworkers (USW) District Director Donnie Blatt: “Thank you, Senator Brown. Unfortunately, we see a lot of that within our country and within out union, companies moving overseas. And in this particular instance with Savant, we just actually got done getting a contract with the company in Logan, Ohio. But now, the fact that they make the glass casings for the LED lights that are finished in Bucyrus, now that plan is now looking for a place. What are they going to do with these glass cases that they are making?
“That puts pressure not only on the company to find someplace to put their product, but also puts pressure on the workers to know whether they’re going to have a job or not, which then puts pressure on the communities to wonder if those jobs are going to be available for workers now or workers in the future.
“So, unfortunately, it puts all kinds of pressure on all kinds of people and companies like GE are famous for doing that stuff and it seems that, that will now put pressure now to maybe lose that facility in Logan, Ohio as well.”
Additional Background on Brown’s Efforts to Save Jobs at the Bucyrus GE-Savant Plant:
In January, a WARN notice was sent to Bucyrus officials alerting them of the company’s plans to send production overseas and lay off 81 local workers. Brown is supporting efforts by local officials and the union to encourage GE-Servant to commission a joint labor-management study to keep these jobs in the Bucyrus community.
In February, Brown wrote to Walmart leadership, asking the company to get involved in local efforts to save high-efficiency lighting jobs at the GE-Savant plant. In his letter, he outlined the company’s previous commitments to purchase Bucyrus-made LED light bulbs from GE-Savant and asked about the company’s ability to increase purchasing of these light bulbs in an effort to save Bucyrus jobs. This followed an initial letter Brown sent to GE-Savant CEO Robert Madonna in January, asking the company to work with the city of Bucyrus and IUE-CWA Local 84704 to keep jobs and high-efficiency lighting production.
In 2010, Brown visited the then-GE Lamp plant in Bucyrus after the plant received a $19.8 million tax credit, funded through the Recovery Act’s Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit (“48C”) program, to retool for clean energy manufacturing, a program which Brown supported and worked to expand.