Thursday, March 27, 2008

Minnesota Workers Need New Legislative Protection

Honorable Mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota, Mayor Chris Coleman,

Yesterday I wrote to you about your kind words about Gus Hall. See my letter on my blog:

Today I write to you about my suggestion that you seek a joint venture with the Chinese to save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Plant because there could be some very welcome social consequences which would accompany such a venture as indicated in the news article below.

Yesterday I noted that as you fought the Ford Motor Company, St. Paul City Council Member Pat Harris was working behind your back in cahoots with the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce and the Ford Motor Company along with a group of real estate speculators, bankers and Wall Street investors who stand to profit handsomely from the destruction of the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant which will include the loss of some two-thousand jobs. Harris did this by urging the defeat of S.F. 607 in the Minnesota legislature; legislation aimed at saving the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant.

Senator Metzen’s incompetent and uncaring Committee Secretary, Lisa Sarne, failed to take adequate minutes of the hearing on S.F. 607 so we will perhaps never know how the eighteen Senators on the Senate Committee on Business, Industry and Jobs voted; however, we do know that members of your Party, the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party, dominate this Committee 11 to 7. I have asked all members of this Committee how they voted, only three will say; some apparently have bad memories, while others are simply so cowardly and arrogant they won’t say. I find it interesting that here in the world’s leading bastion of democracy you can’t even find out how members of a legislative committee have voted on a piece of legislation.

I bring all of this up because in China the law says companies have to consult with workers about any plans to relocate or close down and/or relocate a manufacturing operation--- had we had similar legislation here in Minnesota, we most probably would be in a much better position to fight to save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant because I think you will find that Ford workers are pretty much unanimous in wanting to keep their jobs. If you doubt my contention, I would encourage you to go talk to the Ford workers.

I am quite sure you will find that Ford workers were not consulted with or drawn into the decision making process on whether r not this very profitable plant should be closed and demolished to make way for up-scale housing, cute little yuppie boutiques and a bunch of poverty wage jobs.

As I pointed out, St. Paul needs more up-scale housing like I need a hole in my head. You can’t even keep families in the homes they have already purchased because they are being foreclosed on and evicted by the thousands as the same parasitic lenders responsible for this criminal mortgage fiasco are now positioning themselves like vultures over road-kill to profit from the demise of the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and the loss of two-thousand good paying union jobs.

Why are there no such laws protecting and guaranteeing the right of worker participation and involvement as in China right here in Minnesota protecting the rights of working people to participate in the real decision making process where it really counts: at their place of employment concerning an issue so basic as their right to a job and gainful employment?

Anyways, here is the article, Mr. Mayor. I would encourage you to take up this question of workers having such rights with your city council, state legislators, Minnesota’s congressional delegation and those businesses doing business in the City of St. Paul. Perhaps you should include a stipulation that any business hiring employees should have to consult with their employees before making the decision to close or relocate.

Kraft Foods Accused of Labour Law Violation

By Peter Bachmann, on Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Published in : The News, News March 2008

U.S.-based Kraft Foods Inc. faces a possible legal battle after unionized workers claim that the relocation of its China headquarters from Beijing to Shanghai violates the new labour contract law.

The American company will relocate its headquarters from Beijing to Shanghai by January 2009. The move comes after it purchased Danone's biscuit and snack division.

Some employees in the Beijing headquarters are apparently now accusing Kraft of violating China's new labour law, state media reports, claiming the company failed to consult with them fully before deciding to relocate. Around half of the 340 staff are expected to lose their jobs if they choose not to relocate.

"We have considered employees' benefits and offered higher compensation than the law requirements but employees have their own thoughts," Market Avenue quotes Li Lingping, Communications Director for Kraft Foods China.

Mayor Coleman, you might want to make a copy of this and keep it on your desk… it might even make a good emblem for the City of St. Paul:

Perhaps you could even use this as a logo for your next campaign.

Alan L. Maki

58891 County Road 13

Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432

Cell phone: 651-587-5541


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