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Things were finally looking up for Dwayne Pendergraph after taking some tough licks.  

Pendergraph, 32, and his wife, Darla, were back on their feet after losing their jobs in 2006 when the Carrier air cooling products plant, where they had worked for nearly 10 years, shut down and relocated from Morrison, Tenn., to Mexico — putting them and Darla’s father out of work.

Pendergraph, whose father had taken a severance package before his job at A.O. Smith in McMinville was outsourced to Mexico in 2003, went to work in a Mahle Tennex automobile parts plant in Murfreesboro feeding parts to robots for assembly.  

We were like football players doing handoffs.

Darla got a job at a Rich Foods processing plant in Murfreesboro.  Although they now drove 40 miles to work in different directions, they once again had two incomes coming in.

Then the automobile industry tanked.  Pendergraph was laid off and called back.  But the robots and three production lines were sent to Mexico in 2009.

He put in an application at Philips Luminaire’s lighting fixture plant in Sparta.  “They had a good track record,” says Pendergraph, of the plant that opened in 1963 as Thomas Lighting and was designated one of the top 10 industrial plants in North America by Industry Week magazine in 2009. Hired at Philips, Pendergraph joined IBEW Local 2143 and a family of workers and managers whose long history of productive negotiations and steady improvements in productivity had assumed legendary status.

I work with a lot of good people who clock in on time every day and do a good job. When the boss comes down and needs something done, we do it.

After working at Philips for only a year, he already shared the pride in awards that the plant received for safety and efficiency.  

Last October, Pendergraph’s luck ran out.  Representatives of Netherlands-based Philips came in the front door of the plant, accompanied by security, announced that the facility would be shut down in 2012 and left through the back door.

Dragged down once again in the powerful undertow of a seemingly endless wave of U.S. manufacturing plants headed for Mexico, Pendergraph, who has two daughters, 16 and 5 years old,  isn’t giving up hope that Philips’ decision can be reversed.

We’re trying to get our story out. American workers have had enough.  We’re doing our damndest, but the carpet keeps getting pulled out from under us.

He encourages everyone to show their support for American jobs by signing the online petition to Philips CEO Gerard Kleisterlee telling him not to pull the plug on American jobs.  

He also says supporters should like the "Keep the Lights on in Sparta" Facebook page.  

Go to for more information.

Originally posted to The Electrical Worker on Tue Mar 15, 2011 at 06:49 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I try hard to buy US-made products whenever (13+ / 0-)

    there is an option.  I'm fortunate to live in an area where that is possible for a wider range of goods (many of them made locally).  But for many products, it's just not possible and it's really frustrating.  

    I'm hoping that one thing that comes out of the current upheaval is that more people begin to see the connection between their purchases (always going for the cheapest item, never bothering to see where it's made) and the continued devastation of the middle class.  (I was happy to get the chance to sway a friend's purchase yesterday - we were on the phone about something else while he was buying a tool, and he was trying to decide which one to get.  I asked him where they were made, which he hadn't thought to look at.  He ended up going with the American-made product.  Yea!)

    This Onion article relates to the topic nicely.

    They only call it Class War when we fight back.

    by lineatus on Tue Mar 15, 2011 at 07:14:53 AM PDT

  •  Levis' Jeans (7+ / 0-)

    A chinese company.

    True story.

    I'm not afraid of guns! I'm afraid of the people that obsess over owning them.

    by Detroit Mark on Tue Mar 15, 2011 at 07:15:08 AM PDT

    •  And it shows (7+ / 0-)

      Been buying Levis for 30 years. A pair used to last five years or more until the denim was completely worn through and pretty much indecent.

      The last three pairs I've bought have lasted a little over a year before the stitching gave way.

      So offshoring production to China hasn't lowered the price of a pair of Levi's jeans but it has tripled the cost since I now have to replace them three times more often. Good deal for shareholders, not so much for regular Americans.

    •  Mark - Levi Strauss is NOT a Chineese co. (0+ / 0-)

      While it manufactures its products in various Asian countries, including China, Levi Strauss is not a Chinese company. Levi Strauss is headquartered in San Francisco and is owned primarily by the Haas family, decedents of the founder. There are no Chinese on the board of directors, and one Chinese member of senior management (who manages Asian operations). How could you suggest that it is a "true" story that Levi Strauss is a Chinese company?

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Tue Mar 15, 2011 at 07:54:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Today, Levis jeans are made overseas." (5+ / 0-)
        They may be headquartered in the U.S., but manufacturing counts too.

        "In politics, absurdity is not a handicap." (Napoleon Bonaparte)

        by PBen on Tue Mar 15, 2011 at 08:05:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  PBen of course it counts (0+ / 0-)

          But when someone says that a corporation is a Chinese company that suggests that it is owned, headquartered, and managed in China by Chinese. In the case of Levi Strauss it is owned, headquartered and managed by Americans. Had Mark written that Levis were made in China I would have no issues with that, although I think they may actually make more product in other Asian countries.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Tue Mar 15, 2011 at 08:11:48 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sorry, but that's a cop out (4+ / 0-)

            I've run into this trying to buy American products. You see a familiar brand, like Levi's, and you assume the product is American. But it's not. A few fat-cat executives sitting in nice offices are American but that's about it. And as pointed out, many times the product is far worse than when it was made here. I wrote a diary about my quest for an American nail and the frustration of not being able to find one. Sure, I found an "American" company but the nails were from the UAE (or China). But to be an American company it has to mean more than an office in Texas, it has to mean jobs are here as well.

            There's always the chance something good will come out of expressing oneself honestly

            by ontheleftcoast on Tue Mar 15, 2011 at 08:19:37 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  ontheleftcoast - I agree (0+ / 0-)

              I support buy American, and that means American manufactured.  My only point was that Mark did not say that Levis were made in China (some are but many are made in other Asian countries) but that Levi was a Chinese COMPANY and puncuated it by claiming it was "true".  While Levi Strauss does not manufacture in the US it is NOT a Chinese company, by any measure. I just couldn't let that comment, that was not factually correct, go unchallenged.  I support the DKOS culture that is fact based.

              "let's talk about that"

              by VClib on Tue Mar 15, 2011 at 09:16:57 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  No, what you do is (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                gmb, musicalhair, dreamghost

                find a point that's not particularly relevent to the over all point being made and obsess over it as though you've added something important.

                I'm not afraid of guns! I'm afraid of the people that obsess over owning them.

                by Detroit Mark on Tue Mar 15, 2011 at 09:55:12 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Mark - that's easy to fix (0+ / 0-)

                  Stop making comments that are not accurate and punctuating them with an exclamation point by declaring that they are "true", when in fact they are false. One of the great harms, that happens too frequently, on DKOS is false statements that are allowed to stand unchallanged. This creates an echo chamber of misinformation. All you had to say was that Levis are made in China, not the USA. Even though I believe that is not technically correct (I think most of them are made in other Asian countires) I would have not had any comment because I would assume that you were using China as a short hand for Asia. And you were making the more important point that Levis are not made in the USA.  I have no idea why you thought, or wrote, that Levi Strauss is a Chinese company. That's just false.

                  "let's talk about that"

                  by VClib on Tue Mar 15, 2011 at 10:33:06 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  I remember when they moved production (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gmb, Detroit Mark, musicalhair, dreamghost

      I sent them a letter stating I was done with them and would never buy another pair of Levi's.  They trade on a mythos of American rugged individualism, but export production to China.

      I haven't bought a pair of Levi's since.  

      They haven't missed me.

      I support public employee's unions.

      by Tracker on Tue Mar 15, 2011 at 10:04:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes they have. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Detroit Mark, VClib

        Apparently with all the interest in raw denim (read expensive denim) that is hot in fashion now--particularly here and in Japan--Levis wants some of that money.  Problem is, most of the denim used is milled in Japan and the US (yep, they still make premium denim in NC).  Most of the product is also made in Japan and the US.  I'm talking jeans that start at $175 and go up to $450 (but the $450 ones were made with real indigo, etc).  Anyhow, Levis came out with Levis vintage, based on older designs.  The denim is made hear.  I heard that they were made in the US too, but I think some are made in Turkey.  I was told that they are very well made jeans.  Might buy a pair IF they are US made.

        •  The last two pairs of Levis I bought... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dreamghost, gmb

          (and I literally mean...they'll be the last two pairs of Levis I bought) ... were all of 3 months old when belt loops just ... fell off.  Fell off!!  Two pairs!!!!

          I'm not afraid of guns! I'm afraid of the people that obsess over owning them.

          by Detroit Mark on Tue Mar 15, 2011 at 10:15:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The vintage line (0+ / 0-)

            apparently is hot in Europe and Japan and given that the place I went to for jeans emphasizes quality denim....I think it is better made.  I won't pay $175 for jeans made in Sri Lanka.  That's for damned sure. I am tired of buying things made elsewhere that fall apart.  I bought a chamois shirt from LL Bean--which used to be reliable--that got a huge hole in it after only 5 or so wearings.  I work at a desk, for god's sake.  I'm going to call and see if they'll give me a credit.  I'm almost hoping they won't, because so little is still made the US that they sell that I don't want to have a credit to buy crap (I did buy a pair of their Bean boots for snow days, but they are still US made.  For now.).

    •  there are websites (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      for jeans that are Union made in the US.

      Google it, you'll get more than you'd otherwise imagine.

      "Pelosi was the only damn one of the entire lot who showed any ounce of leadership the last two years"-- The Dead Man

      by musicalhair on Tue Mar 15, 2011 at 01:18:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  They do it because they can and because (5+ / 0-)

    it raises executive profits.  The only way to combat this is with tariffs.  If companies who outsource have to pay a premium to sell to our markets it is a win/win.  They either make it here or they contribute to our tax base for our social services.

    If you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much stupid costs

    by Sychotic1 on Tue Mar 15, 2011 at 07:19:56 AM PDT

  •  Still Made in the USA (11+ / 0-)

    This is an excellent website for doing some home made research.

    This is a shirt company with whom I shop for my dress shirts.  It's a guy who got tired of the corruption and left the corporate world and struck out on his own to make excellent quality dress shirts, right here in the USA.

    Great company.

    I'm not afraid of guns! I'm afraid of the people that obsess over owning them.

    by Detroit Mark on Tue Mar 15, 2011 at 07:27:56 AM PDT

  •  No surprise (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Browner Hamlin, VClib

    The US has corporate and individual tax policies that force business to not have any operations in the US except what you must to sell your products in the US.

    In every other industrialized country, much or all of what is exported does not have the tax burden of their economy embedded in their products.  In addition, when they import, the tax burden of their economy is placed on their imports.

    The net is US manufactured goods and services compete against untaxed imports in the US - about a 25% cost disadvantage.  And when we export, our exports are taxed by the US and the other country - about a 22% cost disadvantage.

    This issue is not low cost labor in other counties, as when you do equipment intensive manufacturing, labor costs are far less important.  Countries such as Germany, South Korea, Singapore, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden and many others have successful exporting economies - the US and the UK are the outliers.

    Even if you have a business with zero labor costs, you would not want to have it operated in the US more than needed to sell in the US.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Tue Mar 15, 2011 at 07:28:00 AM PDT

    •  That's total bullshit... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dave B, gmb

      The "tax cost" myth is one of those pushed by supporters of the so-called FairTax, and it just ain't so. Neal Boortz claims to illustrate it by comparing the tax policies covering Mercedes-Benz cars sold in the U.S. with Cadillacs. But he fails to mention one important point - the lowest-priced Caddy costs only a coupled of hundred dollars more than the lowest-priced Mercedes. Right up the line, when matched feature for feature, Caddy prices are very competitive with Mercedes. And quality surveys rank Cadillacs as good as - and on some models better than - their Mercedes counterparts.

      Remember, while we have a high corporate tax rate, loopholes allow many U.S. corporations to pay no tax at all. And our tax policies don't "force" companies to move manufacturing overseas - thanks mainly to Republicans, they reward companies for doing so. That shit's got to stop.

      I vote we run Rick Scott out of Florida on a high-speed rail.

      by ObamOcala on Tue Mar 15, 2011 at 08:51:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You sound like someone (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        who works for a business that imports products and or services and likes having the advantage of selling products in the US that are largely untaxed from their home country and untaxed by the US while competing against companies that make stuff here.

        The US will never have strong employment again while having US products carry a tax burden against untaxed imports in the US, while when we export our products and are taxed by both the US and the other country while the other country's products are only taxed once.

        The point that you miss in the Mercedes-Benz Vs Cadillacs case is that customers buy cars when they are competitively priced - so it is no surprise the Caddies don't cost substantially more than the MBs.  At the same time the German made MB has a much higher profit per car than the Caddie - which is the factor that determines where companies put in operations and hire workers.


        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

        by nextstep on Tue Mar 15, 2011 at 11:55:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  it is the breaks given to outsourcing (0+ / 0-)

          companies, not the tax burden on US manufacturing.

          But if you want to keep spewing Rush Limbuagh's lies, go right ahead.  The emphasis in that sentence would be on 'go'-- as in go and read up instead of just falling for right wing truthiness.

          "Pelosi was the only damn one of the entire lot who showed any ounce of leadership the last two years"-- The Dead Man

          by musicalhair on Tue Mar 15, 2011 at 01:22:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Force or Reward (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        is the same thing.  

        To understand how taxes effect where jobs go, and where taxes are paid one needs to understand not just how US taxes work but how other countries tax companies, workers and customers.

        Just you would choose to take a similar job to what you have now for a 25% hire pay elsewhere, so do businesses.

        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

        by nextstep on Tue Mar 15, 2011 at 12:10:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  OK, what is the solution then? n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  Until we get rid of (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elmo, gmb, musicalhair, dreamghost

    one sided trade agreements and enact an effective industrial policy, we will continue to lose to countries that act in their own self interest.

    "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

    by happy camper on Tue Mar 15, 2011 at 07:47:19 AM PDT

  •  Reagan happened. Bush happened. Clinton (6+ / 0-)

    happened. Bush happened. Obama happened.

    NAFTA. Privatization, deregulation, outsourcing as "bipartisanship" - or "triangulation" - or "trickle down" -
    the destruction of an entire economy for the benefit of the top 1% of the population.

    All these corporate-owned grifters should be in the dock for treason.

    We don't need a third party. We need a second party.

    by obiterdictum on Tue Mar 15, 2011 at 07:59:21 AM PDT

  •  Good luck with Philips (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave B, gmb, Pozzo, dreamghost

    Philips did the same thing in Ottawa, Ohio. They shut down a plant that had been manufacturing television tubes for 50 years to a plant in Mexico. Our loyalty and dedication to the company meant nothing to them.

    They spent half a billion dollars on that plant in Mexico—it never produced a single picture tube—and then they moved that operation to China.

    Philips is a soulless, heartless corporation and to this day I won't even buy a single light bulb from them.

    •  Salina KS - Fluorescent Tubes (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens, dreamghost

      Still not economically feasible to ship them from China as opposed to distribution from dead center of USA.  Pretty much all corporations are guilty of economic treason, hell I'm an ex-GE man sold up the river by that ass licking scumbag piece of dog shit Jack Welch after he smashed up RCA and sold off the pieces.  Now GE is nothing more than a financial industry and military industrial corporate welfare queen.

  •  I encourage everyone... (6+ / 0-)

    ...who may be in the market for a new car, truck or van to consult the United Auto Workers List of UAW/CAW built cars. Note that some these cars are made in Canada, but what's more important, in light of the GOP's recent all-out assault on organized labor, is that all are made in union plants.

    I vote we run Rick Scott out of Florida on a high-speed rail.

    by ObamOcala on Tue Mar 15, 2011 at 09:02:25 AM PDT

  •  Somewhere down in your messages (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gmb, dreamghost

    is an invitation to join the Labor and Unions group onsite, if you're interested.  Sent it out a few weeks back.

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