Union workers from the Maytag refrigerator plant in Galesburg, Illinois are arriving at the company’s headquarters in Newton in preparation for a rally at tomorrow’s shareholder meeting. Maytag announced in October that they’re closing the Galesburg plant and moving operations to Mexico. Dave Brevard is the president of the machinists union in Galesburg.He says they’re in Iowa to tell Maytag they’ve made a bad business move. He says you can’t market a product as an “American Classic” if it’s built in Korea and Mexico. Brevard says the impact of the move on the workers and the Galesburg community is simple. He says it’s “completely devastating” as it will mean the loss of jobs for 16-hundred machinists, along with managers and office workers. Brevard says a Western Illinois University study shows an additional five-thousand jobs will be lost in Knox County where the plant is located. Brevard says the workers can’t understand why Maytag would turn their back on them after all they’ve done. He says they’ve been told they’re not competitively viable, but never explained what that means. He says the Galesburg plant has the highest standard of quality in the corporation and the lowest service call rate. He says Maytag bills itself as the “dependability company” and he questions how they can get that dependability from workers in Mexico. Brevard says this type of corporate strategy should raise concerns for other units of Maytag.He says this should be a wake up call for Newton, for North Canton, Ohio — for Heron, Illinois — for Amana. Brevard says we’re in a period where everyone is waving the American flag, but now is the time to put their money where their mouth is. According to Maytag CEO Ralph Hake, the Galesburg plant closure should be complete by 2004.
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