An eclectic mix of organizations are coming together to urge GE to reinvest in American workers and reshore manufacturing.
Back in March, we covered how General Electric (GE) shut down production of A-19 LED light bulbs at its factory in Bucyrus, Ohio. Not only was it a blow to the 81 workers who lost their jobs, it also was a big letdown because those bulbs once shone brightly on Walmart shelves, part of the retailer’s Made in USA public relations campaign (Walmart, perhaps not surprisingly, dodged the issue).
But the workers in Bucyrus, along with GE employees around the country, are refusing to watch their jobs go away without a fight.
Instead, they are banding together with a diverse coalition of organizations to launch the “Bring It Home GE” campaign, which calls on General Electric to invest in American manufacturing, stop offshoring jobs, and take a bet on American workers. GE and GE Lighting workers in five states are taking part in the effort, including in Virginia, Massachusetts, New York, Kentucky, and Kansas.
The campaign includes a series of television advertisements urging GE to get to work. One ad even features some of the laid-off Bucyrus workers, which you can watch here.
“GE workers are highly skilled and are ready to build for the next generation of domestic manufacturing, including renewable energy products for the offshore wind supply chain and the next generation of military and commercial aviation products,” according to a press release that accompanied the release of the video.
The IUE-CWA is leading the campaign, alongside organizations like Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, the AFL-CIO, and the veterans group Common Defense.
“GE has the chance to once again be a leader in American manufacturing by bringing jobs back to American factories,” said Carl Kennebrew, president of the IUE-CWA. “We are calling on GE to do the right thing, and invest in the American factories that fueled their past success. Our workers are highly trained, and stand ready to be a part of the future of American manufacturing.”
The broad array of groups represent the many different arguments in favor of GE reshoring work to the United States. Labor unions highlighted the positive impact on American jobs and the support for local economies dependent on manufacturing, while veterans groups raised the alarm that the United States will continue to cede our strategic edge to countries like China if we cannot manufacture our own essential products — like the lightbulbs formerly made in Bucyrus – and become reliant on global supply chains that can get shut off during a crisis.
Environmental groups, meanwhile, recognized that growing domestic manufacturing is essential to lowering carbon emissions.
“For the global response to the climate crisis to succeed on the scale that science demands, governments and companies like GE have a responsibility to make rapid and bold investments in climate action that will accelerate the energy transition in a just way,” said Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace USA. “GE should seize the opportunity to develop an offshore wind manufacturing supply chain here in the United States that could create thousands of good-paying union jobs, protect the planet, and protect workers and communities at the same time.”
Here at AAM, we stand firmly with the workers at GE’s facilities across the country. Manufacturing in America is essential to our economic security, national security, and environmental security. And GE, as an American company who benefits from American tax dollars through government contracts, ought to be doing more to support the hand that’s been feeding it for almost a century.
Similarly, Walmart ought to consider putting its money where its mouth is and actually using its influence to encourage its suppliers to manufacture in the United States. The retailer should also buy more American-made products, especially in instances like the GE-Savant factory in Bucyrus, which just may lead to production coming home and workers being rehired.
If GE agrees to start to Bring it Home, the future of American manufacturing can again be as bright as a GE-Savant light bulb.