Monday, January 23, 2012

NAFTA's Latest "Free" Trade Gift: Carrier Plant in Tyler, Texas, Moving Production to Mexico

Probably no other state in the U.S. has been as staunchly supportive as Texas of the politicians who have been firmly in the back pockets of big business and enacted the globalization policies which have wrought devastation upon working and middle class Americans. Nevertheless, as a staunch opponent of both big business and "free" trade (Once again, it's only free for the elites who profit from it and is paid for by those who lose their jobs) I still take no satisfaction from seeing the policies they have consistently voted for now devastate their livelihoods.

Among other things Tyler, Texas, was once home to a Kelly Springfield tire factory that was a sister plant to the one in my hometown where my father served his whole career as a middle manager. That plant closed in 2008, and now, according to a local television station, it is being joined by another factory from the Carrier corporation, which is shutting down to move production across the border to Mexico:
More than 400 employees at Tyler's Carrier plant were told this morning that the Carrier plant in Tyler could be closing. The company has proposed the closure but it is subject to a collective bargaining agreement with the union.

If they choose to close, the company will continue operations through the end of 2013.

Carrier tells CBS 19 they are proposing the closure after a review of business and market conditions.

"I thought it was a shame that again we're losing jobs to a foreign country," Carrier worker Darren Hawks said about the possible closure.

He's worked at Tyler's plant for close to 20 years.

"I don't know what I'm going to do because I'm right in the middle of an age where I don't want to be looking for a job. There are a lot of unemployed people out there who are a lot younger than me so I'm just curious what job I'm going to find," he said.
At least one worker knows what the real story is:
Carrier spokesperson Michelle Caldwell says The shutdown is pending a collective bargaining agreement with the sheet metal workers union.

"We go under negotiations starting next week for severance packages and whatever we can get for employees who lose their jobs,"Local Sheet Metal Workers Union manager, Blain Strickland, said.

Strickland says the jobs are headed to Mexico.

"They're wages are like $4 an hour. American companies can't compete with that," he said.
Well, not since NAFTA anyway. But you have to ask yourself this: in a few years when nearly all of America's good paying blue collar jobs have been destroyed by globalization and the economic effects of peak oil, who is going to be left to buy Carrier's products? Because the low paid Mexican workers sure won't be able to afford them.

The idea that poorer Mexicans, many of whom used to live on subsistence farms and have been driven off their land by plunging grain prices that were a direct result of NAFTA and the subsequent flood of American agriculture products into the country, are somehow better off working long hours for crappy wages in the shitty factories that have been built to replace the ones in the U.S. is laughable. Does anyone really think that the surge in illegal Mexican immigrants to the U.S. looking for work after NAFTA was passed was just a coincidence?

Mr. Strickland also took his soon-be-ex-employers task for their excuses:
Carrier said there decision came down to the numbers. They said since 2005 housing starts are down 71 percent and non residential construction is down 59 percent. Carrier said it was those numbers that affected their market decision."

Strickland disagrees with that explanation.

"Since 1992 carrier has closed 6 manufacturing plants in the United States," he said. "There is no other reason than cheap labor."

In the last decade, Tyler's Carrier plant has slowly shrunk its workforce from 1250 to just over 400. A blow to the economy.
No doubt the housing crash was a big factor in the declining profit margins for Carrier, but that still doesn't explain the previous rounds of layoffs and closings during the boom years.

Ultimately, however, despite the unrelenting bad news, hope somehow still springs eternal:
"Next two years you never know what will happen things might go skyrocket high," Stewart said.
Or things might crater to as yet unseen depths. And quite frankly, the latter scenario seems far more likely than the former given that there is no driver for the creation of good paying jobs in America these days.

Bonus: Linda and Emmylou sing a melancholy Bruce Springsteen tune about crossing the border


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    1. It's all part of the same bad globalization agenda that is destroying the livelihoods of people all over the globe.

    2. Yup, and I read an article that was saying that the REAL reason the oil companies want the XL pipeline to the Gulf has nothing to do with supplying the US (they already have a pipeline down to like TN), but rather to get it to the coast so they can load it on ships and sell it to the highest bidder (providing *zero* 'gain' to the US).

    3. @Anon - you betcha. That's the REAL reason the Republicans want to force the pipeline's approval.

  2. Haha, well, out of curiosity I went to the Heartland Institute's denialpalooza conference in DC last summer, and one of the speakers predicted global warming won't be a problem, because people will BUYING AIR CONDITIONERS.

    So not to worry. Carrier will have lots of customers especially in equatorial countries as the climate heats up towards uninhabitability.

  3. This is candy for TDS:

    1. Karl Denninger of the Market Ticker has a long commentary on that today in which, despite being a rabid rabid Libertarian, he destroys Apple for using virtual slave labor and the U.S. for not enacting a huge tariff on the products produced with that labor. Too bad he's 30 years too late on that call.

      Here's the article for anyone who hasn't seen it:

  4. Seems to me that if new house starts and construction are down so much then they'd be shutting down the plant and NOT reopening it anywhere in order to cut inventory build up. So looking at this, I would think that there is another plant in the US about to be closed that won't be reopened in Mexico

  5. Of course this plant will be reopened in Mexico. These big corporations care about one thing the bottom line,but when the only jobs left in America are in the service industry. Who do they think will be buying their products no one thats who,but they cannot see the long term effects just the short term.