Strong workers cause for hope

July 15, 2009

Strong workers cause for hope

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State Rep. Ty Cobb


By state Rep. Ty Cobb

My first year in the Tennessee General Assembly will be remembered as one with many challenges and surprises.

From the moment I was sworn in, I was told that Tennessee’s revenue figures were continuing to take a downturn and that this budget would not be pretty. Of course, across the country there’s not a government budget anywhere that is popular, regardless of what level of government it is.

Before being elected to the state House, I served on the Maury County Commission and the county budget committee. This experience proved invaluable to me as I transitioned into state government.

Serving as Maury County’s state representative, the No. 1 issue has been and continues to be the General Motors plant. My office receives calls daily from constituents who are concerned about their future and that of the plant. Today, the GM plant still is the top employer in Maury County and has a tremendous impact on our local and state economy.

When GM decides to close a plant, there is a ripple effect. Not only does it affect the 2,500 employees but others, such as the suppliers at Johnson Controls, Bridgestone and Penske, to name a few. Whether or not you support GM, the impact is great, and the dollars add up. When the Spring Hill plant is at full capacity, the combined income is greater than $250 million annually. Many dollars are spent on businesses in the area and throughout the state. In the end, it’s all connected.

Governor made right decision

Hearing the latest announcement that Michigan won the small-car production was not a shocker, though quite disappointing. However, I stand behind Gov. Phil Bredesen’s recent decision not to give in to GM’s request for $200 million. The state of Tennessee is not in a position to be handing out blank checks. We are one of the best-managed states in the nation, thanks to the foresight and leadership of our governor. As he has done for seven years, we must continue to manage the taxpayers’ money wisely.

Though this door may have closed, I am confident that better days are ahead for this plant.

I do believe this plant is the best in the country and has a bright future for many reasons, none more important than the hard-working men and women of Local 4381, who have received numerous awards for production and for having a top-skilled work force.

These folks are not only some of the best workers in the country, but they also have one of the best labor-management contract agreements in the nation. UAW leaders should be commended for that and for the long hours they put into working together to make this contract possible.

I want to personally thank Gov. Bredesen, U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis, UAW President Mike O’Rourke, local community leaders and all the hard-working staffers who worked diligently to try to bring a new line of manufacturing to the GM plant. We will continue to work hard to bring production back to this plant in the near future.

We must remain positive and stand together through these difficult times, because brighter days are ahead and a new GM will emerge.

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