My Comments: What is described here is gut wrenching for me. Much of that is because the Democratic Party was, and perhaps remains, tone deaf to the malaise that gripped working people across the country as we approached 2016.
As before, we cannot remake the past, only influence the future. My efforts to make positive changes will be to continue to share my thoughts with whomever will listen. These are troubling times and it requires an increased awareness among as many people as possible.
by Robert Morrison \ Friday, December 21, 2018
This week, days before Christmas, I will clock into my good, union job one last time.
I spent 31 years working on machines that make parts for steam turbines at the Siemens factory in Burlington, Iowa, the oldest continuously operating, manufacturing facility west of the Mississippi. When our plant closes its doors on Friday, we will be saying goodbye to another factory that made America great. And the unfortunate truth is that the death of our factory and other Siemens-owned facilities across the United States are the result of another damned Donald Trump lie.
Trump came to Burlington back in 2015 as his campaign for president was picking up steam. He declared: “I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created … I will bring jobs back.”
If you invoke the Almighty, you’d better deliver.
After our plant closing was announced in April, I wrote to the White House to tell the president about our plant. First opened in the 1870s, it’s known to locals as “the Murray”.
The White House’s letter back to me said our factory’s demise was a state and local matter, and there was nothing they could do.
The president is wrong. This isn’t just a state or local matter, or even just a corporate greed matter.
As the CEO of America Inc, Trump has the power to tell a company like Siemens to keep our plant open. He could demand that as a federal contractor, they can’t send our jobs overseas. All he would have to do is sign an executive order.
A report from Good Jobs Nation shows that, instead, the Trump administration has rewarded Siemens with $760m in lucrative contracts. Even worse, the report shows close to 8,000 jobs have been outsourced from Iowa since Trump was elected, including almost 2,000 jobs by federal contractors.
Siemens has a reputation as a community destroyer and a job killer. Overall, nearly 2,000 Siemens employees across the country have been, or will be, laid off in the coming months. If it were not for our union here in Burlington, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which has worked hard to provide us severance benefits, the Siemens workers in Iowa would have nothing.
Back when he was running for president, Trump told us exactly what we wanted to hear. In fact, Trump’s promises are a major reason why Des Moines county swung from Barack Obama to Trump in 2016 – making it one of 31 Iowa counties that pivoted to Trump. Most of these counties are located along the Mississippi river valley, which was once a thriving industrial corridor but has since fallen on hard times.
It is too late for our jobs here in Burlington. However, I still believe we can save jobs in other communities threatened by offshoring – but only if our president takes executive action.
My job at Siemens allowed me to buy a house and a car, put food on the table and pay my medical bills. It’s one of the few decent-paying jobs left in our community.
When Siemens shuts its doors on Friday, what kind of economic opportunities will my son – or his son – have?
Our community is angry. I’m angry.
And with the recent news about the mass layoffs at General Motors, it just seems like things keep getting worse for America’s hardworking families.
Trump promised to save our jobs and fight for workers. But he’s done nothing to stop the layoffs at Siemens – or GM. In fact, he’s made the problem worse.
Time is up for us, it seems – but not for America.
Trump, sign an executive order preventing offshoring by federal contractors like Siemens.
If you don’t, we will make sure the next president does.
Robert Morrison has worked at the Siemens plant in Burlington, Iowa for over 30 years, and is a member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 1010