Please note I have a new phone number...

512-517-2708

Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...

http://peaceandsocialjustice.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-progressive-program-for-real-change.html


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.


"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Save the "Green" St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant

Please circulate this information widely.

My Letter to the Editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (sent 11/27/07)was published on Sunday, December 2, 2007; Page OP4:

Your excellent editorial (Sunday, Nov. 25, 2007) on saving the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant missed one important point.

For all practical purposes there is little chance of saving this plant unless it is brought under public ownership; free enterprise has failed to save the plant and the jobs.

Tax-payers already have a huge investment in this plant. More tax-dollars should be invested to save this plant and these important manufacturing jobs.

What tax-payers finance they should own.

Minnesota legislators have a fiduciary responsibility to see to it that this plant survives through public ownership.

Alan L. Maki
Warroad, Minnesota



I have also included the Strib Editorial and the Opinion piece for those who might not have seen these.


As anyone can see this is all far from being a “done deal.” Working together we can save this plant and two-thousand jobs.

So far we have made an important effort towards promoting a real dialogue on saving this plant as is evidenced by the Strib finally taking up this question. Less than a year ago I was told by the person in charge of editorials that they would not be taking a position on this issue because it was a “mute” question and the “decision to close the plant was final.” My how things change.

The publication of the Editorial and the Op/Ed piece is a very exciting development. We should seize on this and get as much discussion going in the plant and surrounding community as we can.

Over 6,000 leaflets have now been distributed on the Iron Range between several of the mines Monday and today.

In my opinion, we need to focus on grassroots and rank and file activity because the present union leaderships are completely incapacble of addressing this issue in the kind of fundamental way required... they fear the issue of public ownership. It will be up to them to explain to the memberships what they intend to do to save their jobs and this plant... doing nothing is not an option. Ron Gettelfinger and the UAW-CAP have been shamefully silent on the issue of public ownership even though it is the very last straw. The leadership of the USW has likewise been shamefully silent even though their members rely on this plant remaining open, too. Bob Bratulich probably is still sitting with his feet up on his desk playing computer games… a new desk, same tired approach to workers’ problems. Leo Girard and Carl Pope never bothered returning to the St. Paul plant once the issue of Public Ownership was raised. It is interesting though that the International President of the USW accompanied by the Sierra Club’s Carl Pope have taken the time to visit the St. Paul Plant and call for it being kept open and producing while UAW President Gettelfinger and Bob King hide out in Solidarity House.

I would also note that MN DFL United States Senate Candidate Al Franken has also called for saving the Ford Plant; as has Green Party U.S. Senate Candidate Mike Cavlan. James Oberstar has remained silent, as has Amy Klobuchar. The Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party continues to refuse to address this issue--- probably because the UAW and USW leaderships have refused to hold their “feet to the fire.”

Should Cynthia McKinney come into Minnesota as a presidential candidate and spend some time talking to Ford workers and miners on the Iron Range as a candidate the Democratic Party dumped; this could prove to be a disaster for the Minnesota DFL at the polls in 2008.

Perhaps someone will raise the issue of the future of the Ford Plant at the DFL Senate Candidate debate. It will be interesting to see if Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer now finds the courage to address this issue since the editorial board of the Strib has spoken. (Pallmeyer did come out in support of public ownership after this was written). Check out Jack's website: http://www.jackforsenate.org/

Alan


This is my posting on the LabourStart home page on FaceBook (to join just Google up “facebook” and follow the instructions; then do a facebook search for “labourstart”); simply click on the link to go to it. Please feel free to join LabourStart’s FaceBook network. [Note, you may add your comments once you join]:




Topic: Help Us Save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant & 2,000 union jobs




Sisters and Brothers;

Unless we act together the Ford Plant will close soon and two thousand jobs will go down the drain and into the river with it.

It will take the initiative of community activists and rank and file activists from your plant working together to save the Ford Plant and two-thousand jobs. It will require activity on a variety of levels from a variety of partners working in coalition.

I would encourage you to ask the UAW leadership of your local (UAW Local 879) to push the MN DFL to reconsider the legislation Democratic Senator Metzen dropped the ball on after Representative Tom Rukavina successfully pushed it through his Committee in the House. It is important that this Plant and Dam remain intact as one unit.

As you know, the great “free market forces” of capitalism have not been able to keep this perfectly good plant in operation.

This leaves us but one option; the option of Public Ownership. Public Ownership has been used all over the world to save many plants and even entire industries. The New Flyer Bus Plant in Winnipeg, Manitoba is one such example.

To be quite frank, our primary concern has to be with saving these two-thousand jobs. The jobs of those presently employed and for generations to come.

No one is considering the tremendous struggle and sacrifice of Ford workers and your union in securing a good place to work as part of the investment. No one is talking about the huge investment taxpayers have made in this Plant and Hydro Dam… not to mention training employees. No one mentions that workers create all wealth and as such are entitled to participate as equals in the decision-making process. The Ford Motor Company never sat down and talked about the future of this plant with workers or tax-payers.

I ask you to take these resolutions to your party precinct caucus meetings in February. Ford workers are scattered all over, even in Wisconsin… we need to reach out for support in order to save this plant. Just clip one of these resolutions to the resolution form.

Two resolutions follow; use the one you feel most appropriate or submit one of your own.

Resolution #1 (Short Version) 0n the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant/Hydro Dam and 2,000 Union Jobs

Whereas Ford Motor Company has stated its intent to close the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant, sell the hydro dam to a foreign corporation, and displace two-thousand workers in the near future without consultation from the workers, the community, or local and state governments;

Whereas this plant, its operations, and the hydro dam have received continued support from every level of government including tax-payer funding, tax-breaks and tax abatements under promises to maintain manufacturing operations and with assurances workers would have job security in St. Paul, Minnesota;

Therefore be it resolved (name of union/organization here) supports public ownership should be used to save this plant, hydro dam, and two-thousand jobs.

Resolution #2 (Full version) 0n the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant/Hydro Dam and 2,000 Union Jobs

Whereas Ford Motor Company has stated its intent to close the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant, sell the hydro dam to a foreign corporation, and displace two-thousand workers in the near future without consultation with the workers, the community, or local and state governments;

Whereas this plant, its operations, and the hydro dam have received continued support from every level of government including tax-payer funding, tax-breaks and tax abatements under promises to maintain manufacturing operations and with assurances workers would have job security in St. Paul, Minnesota;

Whereas this Plant forms an important an integral component of Minnesota’s industrial base;

Whereas the closing of this Plant will cause very significant economic harm to the local community and the state including placing a strain on already overburdened social services which have already been drastically cut back;

Whereas all conciliatory efforts, as demanded, in favor of the management of Ford Motor Company have been granted by all levels of government under the promise Ford would maintain operations in St. Paul;

Whereas a similar threatened plant closing of the New Flyer Plant in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada during the 1970’sresulted in all levels of government intervening on behalf of the members of the United Automobile Workers union resulting in the public takeover of the operation with continuing successful operation at present;

Whereas “the free market” has not resulted in a solution to save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant, the hydro dam which powers the plant along with two-thousand union jobs;

Be it resolved that the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party instruct its State Legislative Caucus to bring forward the previous resolution in the form of legislation supported by the United Auto Workers Union and its members of Local 789 to save the plant and dam intact until a solution is found to continue operations and production;

Be it further resolved that the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party instructs all of its federal, state, and local Twin Cities elected officials to convene a special conference to explore public ownership as the remedy to saving the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant, the hydro dam, and two thousand union jobs;

Be it further resolved that the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party support public ownership and democratic control of the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant with production taking place in the best interests of the workers and the people of the State of Minnesota;

Be it further resolved that public ownership is the only viable means of saving the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant as all other means have been tried and exhausted;

Be it further resolved that funding is not an issue since any country which can squander billions of dollars on the occupation of Iraq can find the resources for saving this Plant, dam, and jobs;

Be it further resolved that the very significant burden of health care costs for employees be resolved through the State of Minnesota enacting legislation implementing single-payer, universal health care.

Alan L. Maki
Member, Minnesota DFL State Central Committee

and

Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council

If you have friends working in casinos please have them get in touch with me.

Twenty-thousand Minnesotans go to work in smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages without any rights under tribal, state or federal labor laws.

58891 County Road 13; Warroad, Minnesota 56763 Phone: 218-386-2432 Cell phone: 651-587-5541
E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net

Check out my blog; it’s where rank and file activists go for information:Thoughts From Podunk: http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/

Suggestions for how to use these resolutions:

• Take it to your precinct caucus meeting

• Get your union or community organization to support this resolution

• Write a letter to your state legislators supporting this resolution

• Copy and distribute this resolution widely

• Use this resolution as a petition, ask your friends to sign it

• Write a letter to the editor

• Blog this issue

• Post the resolution on web sites

• Discuss this resolution on Internet “list serves”


**************

This leaflet made as a contribution in kind by the:
Iron Range Rank and File Labor Network… concerned and involved members of United Steel Workers locals 1938, 2705, 6860, 2660

All labor and materials for this leaflet have been contributed in solidarity with workers of the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant… On the Iron Range we understand the future of our jobs hinge on the future of your jobs. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Alan Maki for taking up this struggle in his capacity as a member of the MN DFL State Central Committee. Without these kinds of community grassroots and rank and file outreach efforts we are all doomed as recent contract “negotiations” in our industries have demonstrated.


Please consider making a contribution to help us put this issue on the front burner where it belongs.

Out of sight… is out of mind.

For additional information---

An excellent editorial:
http://www.startribune.com/editorials/story/1569611.html

A suggestion on the use of the Plant:
http://www.startribune.com/562/story/1569599.html

My Letter to the Editor of the Star Tribune:

Your excellent editorial (Sunday, Nov. 25, 2007)on saving the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant missed one important point.

For all practical purposes there is little chance of saving this plant unless it is brought under public ownership; free enterprise has failed to save the plant and the jobs.

Tax-payers already have a huge investment in this plant. More tax-dollars should be invested to save this plant and these important manufacturing jobs.

What tax-payers finance they should own.

Minnesota legislators have a fiduciary responsibility to see to it that this plant survives through public ownership.

Alan L. Maki
Warroad, Minnesota


Additional information can be found on my blogs:

http://capitalistglobalization.blogspot.com/

http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/



*********************



From the Sunday, November 25, 2007 edition of the Star Tribune

Editorial: One more chance for Ford plant jobs
Year's extension on plant closing is welcome news


Published: November 25, 2007

JOB LOSSES IN ST. PAUL

• Whirlpool: 600 jobs in 1984

• Amhoist: 700 jobs in 1985

• Control Data: 800 jobs in 1989

• 3M: 180 jobs in 2001

• Ford: 1,000 jobs in 2006-07


The Ford Motor Co. plant in St. Paul is on life support for one more year, providing a glimmer of hope that the eventual reuse of the property might include much-needed manufacturing jobs in the heart of the Twin Cities.

For that to happen, though, state and local officials need to aggressively explore options ranging from convincing Ford to continue operations at the plant to recruiting other manufacturers to the property. Without bold leadership, the plant will close and more jobs will disappear from St. Paul.

At its peak in 1979, the 82-year-old Ford plant had 2,600 employees. Union members recently voted to ratify a new contract to keep 925 Ranger truck plant workers on the job until 2009, or a year longer than had been planned for the plant's closing.

The extension provides more time for creative consideration of possible uses for the plant and surrounding property. Fortunately, some of the important groundwork is underway.

In June, a task force that had been working with a consulting firm approved five potential redevelopment scenarios for the property, two of which include industrial or light industrial use. Ultimately Ford will make the call on the plant and the potential sale of the property, but the company is cooperating with the task force and the city in addressing possible uses and related zoning issues.

On the state level, the Minnesota Legislature established a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle task force in 2006, in part to analyze what it would take to encourage Ford to produce plug-in hybrids at the St. Paul plant.

The best outcome, as argued elsewhere in this section by David Morris of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, would be for Ford to use the plant to produce plug-in hybrid vehicles. Unfortunately, there's been no indication from Ford that it will use the plant in its ongoing hybrid development.

All is not lost if Ford abandons St. Paul for good in 2009, however. The Ford site and a quality Twin Cities workforce could draw interest from other industries. Manufacturing related to wind energy is an emerging part of the economy in rural Minnesota, Iowa and other other states.

St. Paul has lost thousands of manufacturing jobs in a steady erosion of its economic base in recent years. Mayor Chris Coleman is quick to point out that the state seems more interested in rural than in urban economic development.

Chopstick factories aside, this is the kind of situation in which the late former Gov. Rudy Perpich would have been at his best, looking at how the Ford problem could be turned into an opportunity.

Today we have a governor with a developing interest in advanced energy technologies, and we have a plant and training facility that could find new life as an urban center for green manufacturing. Let's hope our leaders see the potential before it's too late.

http://www.startribune.com/562/story/1569599.html



David Morris: An electrifying thought for Ford's St. Paul plant
Why close a location when it could be used to produce the plug-in truck of the future?


David Morris

Published: November 25, 2007

In these pages two years ago I urged the Ford Motor Co. to make its St. Paul Ranger plant the centerpiece for a bold new transportation initiative -- a battery-powered vehicle, charged from a household socket, with a backup biofueled engine. Ford's October 2005 announcement that multibillion dollars losses would require "significant" plant closings, potentially including St. Paul's plant, sparked the proposal.

At the time Ford was uninterested, and worse. When the Legislature took up a bill to create a task force to examine the potential for making a plug-in at the St. Paul plant, Ford dispatched an official to lobby against the bill. She was the only one opposed. Both chambers passed the bill unanimously.

In 2005, Ford turned its back on electric-powered vehicles after manufacturing and leasing 1,500 all-electric Rangers to comply with California's electric-vehicle mandate. The mandate was lifted in 2003, and Ford, along with General Motors, began gathering up and crushing their vehicles. Two leaseholders waged a yearlong campaign to be allowed to buy their Rangers. In January 2005, after a sit-in was conducted at a Ford dealership, the company agreed.

In crash tests, the electric Ranger was superior to the gas-engine Ranger. One of the protesters, David Bernikoff-Raboy, a rancher in Mariposa County, Calif., told a local newspaper, "These are great vehicles. Ford is missing a huge marketing opportunity with these vehicles."

In April 2006, Ford decided to close the St. Paul Ranger plant by mid-2008.

That was then, this is now. To paraphrase a famous Minnesotan, the times they are a-changing.

Ford is under new management. Bill Ford is out. Alan Mulally, former head of Boeing, is in.

Ford just announced it would continue to operate the Ranger plant through 2009. Dramatically lower labor costs, a result of halving the workforce at the plant and hiring temporary workers at lower wages, coupled with increased sales due to the higher Canadian dollar, has resulted in profits as high as several thousand dollars per vehicle.

Ford has changed its stance toward electric-powered vehicles. In July, along with the utility Southern California Edison, it announced a collaboration to examine the future of plug-in hybrid vehicles. "By combining strengths, ours in hybrid technology, theirs in energy management, we can consider transportation as part of the broader energy system and work to unleash the potential of plug-in technology for consumers," Mulally said.

GM has announced a major effort to get its new plug-in vehicle, the Volt, on the road in 2010-2012. Several dozen plug-in Priuses are on the roads in Japan, a remarkable turnaround for Toyota, a company that for years used as its tag line in Prius ads: "You never have to plug it in." The company is also developing flexible-fuel technology that could use E85 ethanol for the back-up engine.

These changes can, and should, lead Ford, the UAW and Minnesota to revisit a plan to make the St. Paul plant the basis for a new, green transportation initiative. An electricity-biofueled vehicle makes very good sense. Traveling on electricity costs about a penny a mile, compared with more than 13 cents on gas. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that if every light-duty car and truck in America used plug-in hybrid technology, 75 percent could be plugged in and fueled at night by the electricity grid without the need to construct a single new power plant. Since we use very little oil to generate electricity, electric miles are essentially oil-free miles. If the backup engine were fueled by ethanol or biodiesel, the vehicle could reduce overall petroleum consumption by more than 90 percent.

Minnesota is blessed with plentiful wind resources in virtually all parts of the state. The Achilles' heel of wind energy, as well as direct sunlight, is its intermittence. Electric vehicles can overcome this shortcoming. Their large electric-storage capacity can be charged anytime renewable electricity is available. When needed, the batteries can be tapped to provide power to the house, business, farm or regional grid.

The Ranger may be a suitable candidate for such a vehicle. It costs little. It already boasts the best fuel economy in its vehicle class. Converting it to a plug-in would increase that efficiency three- to five-fold. The Ranger weighs only a little more than the Prius and about the same as the Ford Escape, making it a good candidate for battery power. It has room for a significant battery pack.

That Ford can make a profit now with relatively low production runs of the Ranger may also be helpful in introducing a new type of vehicle. In October, Rangers put up about the same sales numbers (4,800) that GM hopes to achieve in the first year after it introduces the Volt.

The St. Paul plant also boasts a large new training facility, which could become the site for a collaboration between Ford and companies such as 3M and Johnson Controls that could give Minnesota a leg up on becoming not only an assembler of but a supplier of parts to these new vehicles.

To mix my metaphors: The table is set. Will Ford step up to the plate?

David Morris is vice president of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, based in Minneapolis and Washington, D.C.

http://www.startribune.com/562/story/1569599.html