WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) 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 Bucyrus. In his letter, Brown outlines the company’s previous commitments to purchase Bucyrus-made LED light bulbs from GE-Savant and asks about the company’s ability to increase purchasing of these light bulbs in an effort to save Bucyrus jobs. Today’s letter follows a letter from Brown to GE-Savant CEO Robert Madonna last month asking the company to work with the city of Bucyrus and IUE-CWA Local 84704 to keep jobs and high-efficiency lighting production in Bucyrus.

“For generations, Ohioans have helped light the world by producing world-class GE light bulbs. Without the hard-working people of Ohio, the story of GE-Savant cannot be written.  Together – Ohio and GE Lighting, now GE-Savant, have been at the center of the story of our nation’s industrial growth and development.  I urge you to work with my office and GE-Savant to help keep domestic production of the A-19 LED bulb in Bucyrus,” Brown wrote to Walmart leadership.

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 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.

Brown’s full letter to Walmart can be found HERE and below:

Dear Doug McMillon:

Nearly eight years ago, I joined workers, local leaders, and residents of Bucyrus – “the small city positioned at the heart of Ohio” – to celebrate General Electric’s (GE) investment in manufacturing high-quality, high-efficiency light bulbs in the United States.  This investment would not have been possible without Walmart’s “Investing in American Jobs Initiative,” which supported making the A-19 LED light bulb here.  Now, as GE-Savant seeks to move its production of the A-19 LED bulb overseas, we ask once again for your assistance in keeping these good-paying, union jobs where they belong: in Bucyrus, Ohio.

Through its “Investing in American Jobs Initiative,” Walmart has harnessed consumers’ desire to “Buy American” and helped keep jobs in the United States.  To help me better understand how this Initiative has worked to keep jobs in Bucyrus, I was hoping you could answer a few questions:

1)    To your knowledge, do any of your competitors – whether traditional “brick and mortar” stores or solely online – purchase American-made LED light bulbs for their brand label?

2)    With increased light bulb efficiency comes the need for fewer light bulbs.  How many A-19 LED light bulbs have you purchased annually from GE-Savant?

3)    American consumers increasingly value sustainability in their purchases.  Given this, does Walmart believe that there is potential to increase the number of A-19 LED light bulbs it purchases annually from GE-Savant?  If you believe you could purchase more American-made bulbs, have you communicated this to GE-Savant and, if so, when did you do so?

4)    Similarly, are there other high-efficiency bulbs which Walmart could promote through its “Investing in American Jobs Initiative” and which could be made at GE-Savant’s Bucyrus, Ohio, plant?  If you believe you could purchase more American-made bulbs, have you communicated this to GE-Savant and when did you do so?

5)    Closing a production line in Ohio, moving it overseas, and then shipping these new, foreign-made light bulbs to the United States is an energy-intensive undertaking.  It would be tragic if the process of shipping foreign-made, high-efficiency light bulbs consumed more energy than they saved.  Has any assessment been made to determine if externalities associated with foreign production exceeded any purported energy savings?

6)    Walmart has established a number of corporate sustainability goals, including zero emissions by 2040, and the establishment of Project Gigaton, to reduce emissions across your supply chain. If your company was no longer able to purchase light bulbs made in Ohio and instead shifted to foreign-made light bulbs, how would this affect your emission reduction strategy?

For generations, Ohioans have helped light the world by producing world-class GE light bulbs. Without the hard-working people of Ohio, the story of GE-Savant cannot be written.  Together – Ohio and GE Lighting, now GE-Savant, have been at the center of the story of our nation’s industrial growth and development.  I urge you to work with my office and GE-Savant to help keep domestic production of the A-19 LED bulb in Bucyrus.

Sincerely,

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