by Chris Collier, Kucinich for President 2008
Democratic Presidential Candidate Dennis Kucinich Thursday objected to the proposed closing of Alcatel Lucent's North Andover, Mass, manufacturing facility, saying the patriotic thing for the company to do would be to "protect the lives and welfare of American families by keeping jobs here."
Kucinich was responding to the announcement from the Communication Workers of America (CWA) that Alcatel Lucent proposed to close the North Andover, Mass., facility (also known as Merrimack Valley) unless union-represented workers find and agree to accept $6.6 million in cost cutting and adjustments. In a statement to CWA, Kucinich pointed to U.S. trade policies which are rapidly destroying this country's manufacturing capacity.
"There can be no accountability to workers unless workers' rights are protected. And workers' rights cannot be protected unless the Democratic party makes it the centerpiece of its legislative program. As President I welcome the challenge by Labor to truly be the party of all the people." Kucinich said, adding his first act once elected to the White House will be to cancel America's participation in the North Atlantic Free Trade Organization (NAFTA).
"NAFTA, WTO, "Fast Track" legislation, and the Free Trade Area of the Americas will be repealed and replaced with Fair Trade policies in which bilateral trade agreements are negotiated to provide for living wages for workers and environmental safeguards. Canceling NAFTA and the WTO will enable the U.S.to protect high-tech jobs from outsourcing, he said."
According to Jeff Miler, CWA spokesperson "The company says if 250 union-represented workers bear the brunt of $6.6 million in cuts, it might reconsider keeping the operation open. But Alcatel Lucent seems intent on shutting down its U.S. union-represented facilities and shifting more work overseas." Alcatel, a French company, purchased Lucent in December, 2006.
"Keeping jobs here, protecting our American workers and our families are the most patriotic things we can do." Kucinich, chairman of the Domestic Policy subcommittee of the Government Oversight and Reform Committee of the House of Representatives, said, adding "Patriotism promotes a corporate responsibility and sense of shared commitment among all of us here at home."
This is a story Americans need to hear, the CWA's Miller said, "When Lucent was unable to successfully market the product Lambda Xtreme, it was CWA and the local workers who were instrumental in building new demand for a long-distance data transmission system. They wrote letters, met with Congressional delegations and testified in hearings before the Department of Defense (DOD)."
As a result of these hearings and demonstrations for the DOD Lambda Xtreme was purchased by Verizon and other data communication companies.
"Now those same workers are told Alcatel Lucent plans to shift work from North Andover to Italy," Kucinich continued, "My heart goes out to their families. Labor has stood almost alone while corporations have cut wages and benefits, slashed working hours, tried to undermine wage and hour provisions, reneged on contracts, and jettisoned retirements through bankruptcy strategies. Who is showing concern for those who created the wealth through their labor?"
"This past quarter, we gave Lucent the best financials that it has received over the past four years, with costs coming in below all budget expectations," said Local 1365 President Gary Nilsson. "40 percent of our members who are going to be affected live in New Hampshire, we have about the same number of retirees there too. We're inviting all to stand with us and show support at the Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill, Mass, at 5 p.m. on June 24."
"I will be represented at the (public) meeting on the 24th to stand for workers rights across America." Kucinich said, "workers' rights embody spiritual principles that sustain families, nourish the soul, and create peace. Workers' rights are human rights."