Tuesday :: May 18, 2004

Lossed In Middle America


by pessimist

George Warmonger Bush really is a piece of work, isn't he? Absolutely nothing he's started has worked quite as advertised. Iraq is a quagmire and getting quaggier. The economy is going to falter over the deficit and the uncertainty over the Iraq mess. Gas prices have never been higher and the trend is expected to continue.

Then there is the big issue in millions of American minds: how soon before my job disappears?

Think back to that time just before George of the Bungle crashed the Welcome Home parties of the crew of the USS Abraham Lincoln just so he could pretend he still knew how to fly, strut about in a flight suit with a pair of socks stuffed in a position to show what a macho stud he is, and declare that the fighting was essentially over in Iraq. He had just visited Canton, Ohio, which is among other things where the Abrams M1A2 tanks - the ones the Iraqis have been knocking out with frightful regularity - are built. Certainly these tanks use parts made across town at the Timken Bearing Company plant!

Guess what - both have had layoffs.

What about that booming economic growth, Ah! Bust - o?

In a semi-timeline format, let's see what happened - and when:

President Bush Visits Ohio - April 24, 2003

In his ninth trip to Ohio, Bush chose Timken, an ally's business, and a tank plant in Lima for an across-state trip to promote his plan for $550 billion in tax cuts and to talk about the war in Iraq and national security. The facility bears the name of W.R. Timken Jr., the chairman of the specialty steel company who has long been involved in Republican Party politics as a donor and fund-raiser. The warehouse-style research laboratory is filled with all sizes of industrial machinery the company uses in its steel and bearings product development. Folding chairs and bleachers had been set up on the brick floor to accommodate 800 people, most of whom were Timken employees and their guests.

"The president recognizes Timken as a well-managed company. That the chairman is W.R. Timken is helpful, but this is the kind of company he wants to encourage to grow and be a more important contributor to jobs and economic growth," said Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Ohio, whose district includes the company.

Bill Miknis, 50, a welder who has worked at Timken for 29 years, had a front-row seat. Calling himself a Bush supporter, Miknis praised the administration's work during the war. "But I'm concerned about the economy. I think we need to get the country going and get more jobs here," Miknis said.

Debra Miraglia, 50, the wife of the company's senior vice president for technologies, Salvatore Miraglia, agreed. "We've got a lot of working class people here today," she said. "We've seen businesses close and many people around here who have lost jobs."

In April 2001, Timken announced it was cutting 1,500 jobs, and seven months later cut about 300 more. In 2002, Timken earned $38.7 million, or 62 cents per share, on sales of nearly $2.6 billion, recovering from a 2001 loss of $41.6 million, or 69 cents a share, on sales of about $2.4 billion.

The Lima Army Tank Plant, which Bush was to visit later Thursday, once employed 3,800 workers before layoffs in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Now the plant is down to about 600 workers who make the Abrams M1A2 tanks, the main battle tanks used in Iraq.

Ohio was a pivotal state for President Bush in 2000 and will be again in 2004, being the only industrial Midwestern state to deliver for Bush in 2000. Next year, he would have only the re-elected Gov. Bob Taft to help in the region where Democrats now govern the surrounding states of Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

No Republican has won the presidency without winning Ohio.

This was last year, remember. Now we get to see what happened after George declared economic victory in Ohio.

Timken To Eliminate 900 Jobs - Cuts To Be Made Worldwide - September 19, 2003

The city's largest employer is eliminating jobs, NewsChannel5 reported. The Timken Co. is eliminating 900 jobs worldwide and Timken officials are revising the company's earnings estimate. Timken, which makes bearing and steel parts for numerous vehicles, cites slowing auto production as the reason for job cuts.

Tank Town Tanks. T'anks, George!

Timken To Close Canton Bearing Manufacturing Plants - Production To Be Shifted To Other Plants - May 14, 2004

The Timken Co. announced Friday that it will close its Canton bearing manufacturing operations, affecting 1,300 jobs. The company expects most of the production to be shifted to its other U.S. plants. The Timken Co. is a leading global manufacturer of highly engineered bearings and alloy steels and a provider of related products and services with operations in 27 countries. Timken employs 4,800 in Stark County and approximately 26,000 worldwide. The Canton-based steel operations are unaffected by the decision.

"We have been meeting with the union for more than eight months to discuss how to make our bearing operations competitive in our changing global marketplace," said James W. Griffith, president and CEO. "We are disappointed that our talks with the union did not lead to the changes necessary to make these facilities viable. Therefore, we will begin moving the products to plants where they can be manufactured competitively." The company will now meet with the union about this decision.

In September 2003, the company began a series of meetings with the union and associates in the Canton bearing operations to discuss what needed to be done to make the plants competitive. At that time, the company made it clear that the Canton bearing operations could not continue to operate in their current form.

The company indicated it was willing to make the investments necessary to create a focused, competitive operation in the Canton bearing plants if these investments were accompanied by contract modifications. Since then, the company and the union have been unable to agree on the necessary changes. Production at the Canton bearing plants has declined 27 percent over the last five years as the cost structure of the operations made it difficult to win new business.

Note that there was nothing said about what management was going to do to help make the plant more competitive without making the workers pay the entire bill, but to do otherwise would be an offense unbecoming of a Republican, wouldn't it?

No Republican has won the presidency without winning Ohio.

This wasn't the end of things. Some unnamed reporter decided to act like a reporter and put Lyin' Scott McClellan on the spot:

AT LEAST OHIO'S NOT A SWING STATE - 05.14.04

It's never good for a president when this happens. From today's gaggle with Scott McLellan aboard Air Force One:

Q: About a year ago, April 24th, last year, the President went to Canton, Ohio. He went to the Timken Company. I don't know if you remember the trip, I wasn't on it. He went to a bearings factory, part of the Timken Company, touted his economic plans and talked about jobs and growth. Timken announced today that they're shutting down that plant that the President visited a year ago.

I just wonder if that's ironic, that the President touted his economic strategy, [and it] doesn't appear to be working?

No Republican has won the presidency without winning Ohio.

McClellan must be wishing that Ari Fleischer was still doing the Official Liar Act. But everything is wonderful in the employment picture!

Right?

Timken Layoffs Potentially Devastating For Canton - 1,300 Jobs Predicted To Be Cut - May 16, 2004

Timken is slashing a quarter of its employees in Canton, and as workers facing layoffs consider their future, the ripple effect is already beginning. "How can I afford to get married, afford a house payment, maybe kids, if I don't have a job?" said Timken employee Shawn Higgins.

If you get an application in to the National Football Hall of Fame, you just might get one of the few usher spots that will open up.

Timken is Canton's biggest employer, and it is reported that 1,300 jobs are to be cut. Former Mayor Richard Watkins, who led the city for 12 years, knows how enormous the impact of such a downsizing can be. "It isn't just about Timken," said Watkins. "Other jobs are affected. If (people) can't spend money, the smaller entrepreneur won't be able to stay in business."

No Republican has won the presidency without winning Ohio.

Any business smaller than Hallibutron or Enron is subject to the Law of Survival of the Fattest. Those who eat won't be eaten, and a few other platitudes popular with those greedy bastards who think they are entitled to portray one of the gods on Mount Olympus who toy with the lives of the little people for their own amusement. I'm sure that the executives of Timken are laughing - all the way to the bank with their fat bonus checks.

No Republican has won the presidency without winning Ohio.

Ironically, it was a little more than a year ago when President George W. Bush visited Timken's world headquarters heralding his tax cut and job creation plan.

Now this very company's job cuts will be a major blow to the economy in Canton. As manufacturing jobs continue to disappear from the area, Canton Mayor Janet Weir Creighton believes all is not lost. "It's not a question of whether this problem isn't solvable, but if we can find the right answers," Creighton said. The union said it is open to talks to try and keep as many jobs in Canton as possible."


There should be a bunch of jobs for those handing out the welfare checks.


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pessimist :: 3:57 PM :: Comments (4) :: Digg It!