In January 2014, President Obama visited General Electric’s factory, applauding the factory plant “as a sign that manufacturing in American could have a promising future.” On the contrary, the factory’s plant manager notified the workers that the Waukesha plant would be shut down and would be relocating “production of the industrial engines – and the workers’ jobs – to Canada,” causing many to lose their jobs. What caused this change? A combination of “fast-changing markets, Washington politics, and corporate self-interest.”
The change is undoubtedly controversial, but the reason for this change is because of a dispute over the Export-Import Bank, “a bank [that] offers financing and insurance for American exporting products. The Export-Import Bank makes money and returns funds to the Treasury.
When the workers were all called together, it was explained to them that the factory was closing because, “Congress had failed to fund the Export-Import Bank.” Conservative Republicans say that the bank serves as a symbol of “corporate welfare,” because it gives out too many subsidies, hinting at companies like G.E. In the end, they restricted a vote to renew funding for the bank.
However, what is surprisingly shocking is that “Republican supporters of the bank teamed up with Democrats on a rarely used tactic gathering 218 signatures from both parties on a petition to force a vote to reopen the bank.” What is so remarking about this incident is that such tactics like this rarely work.
This petition has been remarkable, and the Export-Import Bank has never faced such controversy. Surprisingly, “the bank says is supported $27.4 billion in exports and 164,000 American jobs last year.” The shutdown of the bank and the relocation and shutdown of the G.E. in Waukesha means a loss of jobs for many workers, affecting 350 works, of which 291 are hourly factory employees.
G.E. has invested (especially in repairs) over $30 million since 2010 in the Waukesha plant, with the factory producing nearly 1,000 engines last year, which are used for emergency power in hospitals and office building. With the new factory in Canada, G.E. plans to increase in its efforts. No site has been selected yet for the new factory in Canada but it is said that the change is irreversible.
By ~ Io Chaney