Keep It Made in America bus tour hits D.C.

May 19, 2009

Keep It Made in America bus tour hits D.C.

By TODD SPANGLER
FREE PRESS WASHINGTON STAFF

WASHINGTON – While President Barack Obama, the auto companies and the UAW were in the White House talking up a national fuel standard, a group of civic leaders, workers and mayors from around the country were on Capitol Hill wondering what good that might do them if they lose their auto manufacturing plants.

“It’s a yawner,” Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero said of Obama’s announcement. “We were headed that way already. That’s not leadership. … It certainly isn’t the help that we need.”

 

Bernero’s comments came as the Keep It Made in America bus tour pulled into Washington, organized by the Alliance for American Manufacturing, the Mayors & Municipalities Automotive Coalition and the United Steelworkers union as a way to draw attention to the impact the loss of domestic automaking can have on communities.

 

One of the biggest issues right now is General Motors’ intention to close more than a dozen as-yet undetermined plants while – according to the UAW – ramping up production at foreign operations where labor is less expensive to import vehicles back into the United States.

 

Mike Dinwiddie, the new mayor of Spring Hill, Tenn., drove through the night to catch a flight from Atlanta to Washington, D.C. to make it to the meetings. His town’s mood is nervous, he said, with the fate of the big GM plant there uncertain, and it’s loss would be devastating, costing his town’s tax base millions of dollars each year.

 

Rep. Mark Schauer, a Battle Creek Democrat whose district includes a Delta Township production facility that could find itself competing with Spring Hill for survival, said the case has to be made to GM and Obama’s auto task force that communities shouldn’t be forced into competing with each other to keep these jobs.

 

Before signing off on a plan that will cost billions more in taxpayer dollars, said Schauer, he hopes the parties involved will consider “the entire cost of the decisions that are being made.”














 

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