Ford Twin Cities Hydro Damis now in the balance as bids are being considered. The time for
emergency actionon the part of politicians at every level from the local to the state on up to the federal level along with all Minnesotans is now; we can not afford to sit idly by and have this very profitable, environmentally friendly power generating facility stolen out from under us.
According to media reports the dam is worth between thirty and fifty million dollars.
This is an outright insult to the tax-payers who have subsidized this hydro dam for years... if this hydro dam is worth a penny it is worth one thousand times more than these appraisals; apparently these appraisals were pulled from the same hat as the figures used for the miserly minimum wage increase that resulted in the the last legislative session.
Any other business is sold on the basis of potential profits it will generate and the real value based upon the real costs involved.
Ford should not be allowed to use the sale of this hydro dam to subsidize worker "buy outs." This hydro dam is worth much more.
First of all, this hydro dam should not be sold to private industry. This never should have been a consideration or option. The people of Minnesota have a huge investment in this hydro dam that utilizes a publicly owned natural resource to generate electricity.
Second, this hydro dam is not Ford's property to sell. Tax-payers have subsidized this hydro dam so heavily this electric generating facility for all intents and purposes rightfully belongs to the local, state, and federal governments. Ford should willingly turn over the deed to a public utility agency specifically established by all three levels of government for the purpose of operating this hydro dam. Any government that can subsidize the kind of carnage and destruction of infra-structure that is taking place in Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Iraq can afford to take over the operation of this one hydro dam. Eminent domain should be sought.
Third, electricity generated by this hydro dam that wasn't used by Ford was stolen by the power generating industries at far below the cost the electricity was sold to other customers... this has been one big rip-off from the very beginning. Obviously the Minnesota legislature should do now what it should have done years ago... passed legislation that encourages environmentally friendly power generation through adequately compensating those producing the power. In addition to this hydro dam we now have people using solar and wind generating equipment and other innovations that save on power and these people should receive just compensation in line with what the utilities are charging their customers for this power.
Minnesota tax-payers and federal tax-payers have been subsidizing the power distribution network and grid for years as the power generating mega monopolies have been raking in the profits and polluting the land, streams, rivers, and lakes creating health problems for millions of people without access to health care.
In the Ford Twin Cities Hydro Dam we have the power needed to continue operating the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant under public ownership producing modern, environmentally friendly, mass transit equipment.
Liberals, progressives, and the left in general has been slow to react and respond to the brazenly cold announced Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant closing... politicians went hat-in-hand begging to Ford to keep the plant open when what is required is real initiative backed by creative thinking and an understanding of what this plant closing will mean to the workers and their families, the surrounding community and to our state. Thinking on the part of politicians on this issue has been as short-sighted as on just about every other issue from single-payer, universal health care to the minimum wage and the war in Iraq.
Henry Ford was the first to tout "creative thinking" as the most important trait he expected from Ford workers. The concrete artwork that adorns the Ford Twin Cities Assembly plant attests to this.
Charles P. Steinmetz the scientist whose inventions made the Ford Dam a reality over eighty years ago insisted that only through full public ownership of the power generating industry would electrification ever serve the interests of society in a way that would be environmentally friendly.
The great scientist and thinker, Albert Einstein, called for public ownership of industry as the solution to the myriad of problems he saw being created by capitalism and the private ownership of the means of production.
Now is the time for progressive DFL'ers like Bill Hilty to step forward on this important issue involving the future of the Ford Hydro Dam and the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant.
Now is the time for Iron Range legislators like Tom Rukavina, Tony Sertich, and David Tomassoni to fight to save good jobs, paying real living wages, with all the benefits working people are entitled to as a human right. It has taken the Ford workers many years of struggle to attain the standard of living they now enjoy... and make no mistake, it has been a very long and difficult struggle for Ford workers to attain what they have today... this struggle alone is worth hundreds of time more than the miserly buy-out package that Ford has now "offered" its employees. One would expect that these Iron Range legislators understand and appreciate the value this long and historic struggle of the autoworkers which has contributed to helping to raise the standard of living of all Minnesotans. This "working class struggle" that has been waged by autoworkers across this land has not been considered to date as part of the value of the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and all the other Ford plants closing.
I would suggest that Ellison, Rukavina, Sertich, Tomassoni, Hilty, Jaros, Hornstein, and Fitch convene a meeting immediately to bring the issue of the pending closing of the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and the Ford/Twin Cities Hydro Dam before the Minnesota legislature on an emergency basis. Congressman Keith Ellison should be brought into this struggle to place the Ford operations under public ownership... certainly coming from Detroit Ellison must understand the importance of the value of the working class struggle for justice and dignity waged over the many years and is well acquainted with the work of those like Phil Raymond and Brother Bill McKie who built the United Automobile Workers into a powerful union who fought off the gangsters and thugs hired by Henry Ford to beat down and shoot his own employees. From Detroit to the Twin Cities to California to Georgia and Windsor, Ontario, Canada... Ford workers have fought and struggled heroically for the gains and advances they have made... just as the miners on the Iron Range have struggled. Today the future of autoworkers and miners hinges on raising the struggles to a new level with new thinking... this new thinking was already being put forward by the Red Finns on the Iron Range and the leaders of autoworkers like Phil Raymond, Brother Bill McKie, Wyndham Mortimer, Bob Travis, and Bud Simons at the time they blazed the trail that led to so many victories that placed autoworkers in the front ranks of working class struggles along with the miners on the Iron Range for social and economic justice.
Part of the value of every vehicle that has been produced at the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant has come from the struggles of working people fighting for their rights, and that struggle has been an important factor in raising the standard of living for all working people in Minnesota.
There is also a political value society has benefited from when it comes to the struggles of Ford workers employed at the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant... from being an anchor in the Twin Cities for the Minnesota Farmer Labor Party to being there when Keith Ellison needed a firm voice in opposition to the dangerous voices of racism, bigotry, and hate.
There are numerous reasons why the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and the Ford Twin Cities Hydro Dam should now be brought under public ownership. The main reasons: it is the morally right, it is politically correct, it is financially sound, and a socially just solution.
State Representative Tom Rukavina once told Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty that he could not turn his head to the right... it is time that he turn his head fully to the left; and it is time that tens of thousands of Minnesotans stand by his side on this important issue--- real jobs, good wages, an environmentally friendly manufacturing facility with the potential of creating thousands of new jobs producing what is required to fight global warming.
The Taconite Tax should be increased to cover any and all costs associated with bringing the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant under public ownership... after all, saving the existing two thousand jobs and the very real possibility of creating another eight to ten thousand new jobs at this Plant will save many jobs on the Iron Range; and, quite possibly, create several hundred new jobs on the Iron Range... If Minnesota becomes the center of heavy industry retrofitted in hi-tech, high quality production for producing solutions to global warming this could have the potential of creating thousands of jobs on the Iron Range.
Something Rukavina, Sertich, and Tomassoni may want to consider... the mining industry needs to come up with some solutions to its role in global warming real quick... the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant has the potential of producing the equipment that will be required, also. The State of Minnesota (MnScu) has a very hi-tech training and research facility on site ready to go to work on just such problems.
The Progressive Caucus of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party has been slow to respond to the closing of the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and the future of the Ford Hydro Dam... the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party has not responded at all. Even the Green Party has been slow to add its voice to saving the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and Hydro Dam.
Ford has been claiming health care costs have been killing the company.
Here is a chance for progressive Minnesota legislators to put forward a new "New Deal" for Minnesotans: health care and jobs.
Ford and the power generating industry have had a free lunch and a free ride at the expense on Minnesotans for far too long... now is the time to correct this injustice.
Since Christine Frank and I first published our "Appeal To Minnesotans for Public Ownership for The Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant," much discussion has been generated... support from people has been overwhelming. By-and-large the big business media has refused to broach the issue of public ownership of this Plant and the Hydro Dam... if the kind of far ranging discussion required is going to take place it must start around the kitchen tables in the homes of Minnesotans.
Progressive politicians, union leaders, and the left have an important role to play in stimulating a continuing dialogue and debate. It would be helpful to have legislation on the table.
Controversy should not be feared, but instead welcomed... because that is the only way this important issue will get discussed.
The key to winning in every struggle is: education, organization, unity, and action. All of this begins around the kitchen tables in the homes of working people... it always has and always will.