LEVIN STATEMENT ON MANUFACTURING: THE PERSONAL VOICES OF THOSE AFFECTED

Apr 6, 2006

(Washington D.C.)- U.S. Rep. Sander Levin (D-Royal Oak), today made the following floor statement in support of the manufacturing sector by reflecting on the personal voices of those the manufacturing jobs crisis has affected in Michigan.

Mr. Levin's remarks are below:

Mr. Speaker, since January 2001, the United States has lost 2.8 million manufacturing jobs.  As a result, manufacturing states have seven of the ten highest unemployment rates in the country.  But manufacturing affects us all, not just those workers who are directly engaged in manufacturing, because manufacturing has the largest employment "ripple effect" of any U.S. industry.  During President Clinton's administration, when manufacturing was growing and thriving, private sector job growth was 22 percent.  Under the current administration, it's an anemic 2.4 percent.  Manufacturing is also responsible for nearly two-thirds of all private sector research and development.

Manufacturing in the United States faces serious challenges in the global marketplace, as our manufacturers compete with companies who get the benefit of a healthy workforce without having to shoulder the rising cost of health care, deal with skyrocketing energy costs, and often face an unlevel playing field when they sell their goods.  Instead of standing up for manufacturing and the men and women it employs, the Bush Administration continues to sit on its hands as the manufacturing jobs crisis worsens.  The workers who are harmed by that inaction deserve to be heard.  Tonight, I'd like to read testimony several Michigan workers submitted to us about how the manufacturing jobs crisis is affecting them.

Sherry Lowell of Grand Blanc, MI writes:

"For the past 27 years, I have worked as a Journeyman Toolmaker for GM/Delphi in Flint, MI. My marvelous experience as a tradesman began when I was 30 years old. At the Flint East site, I was the 7th female to graduate as a tradesman. . . .

For almost three decades, I believed that I was an integral part of the team with the goal of producing products with first time quality at a profit. The wages that I earned were appreciated and getting dirty and greasy were part and parcel of my job as a toolmaker. I have fulfilled my promise to the corporation for the past 27 years to faithfully come to work, work hard at work despite cold (45 degrees)and hot (103 degrees) and dirty environments, and buy GM/AC products.

The promise of a defined-benefit pension was very important to me. Furthermore, financial planning for my old age has been threatened by corporate raiders of pension funds and the possibility of Social Security benefits ceasing. I would appreciate Congressional Efforts to support the men and women of manufacturing skilled trades and production in protecting the pensions they were promised."

Patricia Neal of Clinton Township, MI writes:

"I have been a UAW member and a GM employee for 28 years, I, live in Clinton Township, MI. At some point in time nearly every UAW represented auto worker in America has had to hear, that we are "over paid and under worked". Every headline that screams out to the public, pointing a scolding finger at UAW represented auto workers, is not only demoralizing and degrading it is downright deceiving. . . .

We (UAW workers) make the products put before us, we drive the fork trucks, we stand on the steel plated or concrete floors, we tighten the nuts and bolts, we handle the machines, we breath the toxic fumes but we do not make the decisions. WE DO THE WORK. We want to see GM make a profit, we want GM healthy."

Charles McCray of Southgate, MI writes:

"I am a 54 year old retired hourly worker after 30 years of service. I have worked hard for GM and the UAW. I have always purchased GM products over the years. I want GM to keep their promise to me with the contract I signed when I retired. I retired and gave up my position to another worker to pay taxes and make a good wage.

With the possible problem at GM if I were to lose any pay what-so-ever I'd be in a tight spot. Where does all the money come from to even bury me when the time comes. We have never lived beyond our means at all. We have been able to pay for college for our 2 children, have a small home paid for. There is a small savings for future use after 62 years of age. With our monthly retirement we do Ok but most do not.I have already gone out and have taken another job just because I am not sure what is going to happen at GM."

I hope President Bush and my colleagues in the House will hear these workers and the millions like them, and will begin work on a real agenda to preserve and expand our manufacturing sector and the quality products and jobs it produces.