Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...


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...


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, February 15, 2007

How to save the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant...

... and create more jobs in the process.

I have heard every conceivable excuse about why the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant is doomed.

I find this doomsday scenario very strange, especially when it comes from those politicians, state legislators, and media pundits along with newspaper editors who lecture us daily about what a great democracy we are living in.

I would challenge those who have such an infatuation with voting to put this matter before Minnesotans; they won't do this because they know the outcome of such a plebiscite in advance... the vote would be as overwhelming as that of the vote by MNDFL State Convention delegates who voted in support of single-payer, universal health care... in fact, three issues could be put before Minnesotans in a special election very easily and very cheaply: 1. The war in Iraq; 2. Single-payer, universal health care; and, 3. Public Ownership of the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant.

We all know the politicians will not put these issues to a public vote because the results will be for ending the war in Iraq now (why not include a vote on whether the U.S. should launch another war before it starts against Iran?); for single-payer, universal health care; and for public ownership of the Ford Plant would be in the affirmative for each issue... completely contrary to what these politicians, the military-financial-industrial complex, and the big business community are doing now.

EvTac, the huge taconite operation in Eveleth, Minnesota was kept going after Cleveland Cliffs found a partner in the Chinese government to keep the plant open as UnitedTac. We are told this operation is going full bore.

The question about keeping the Twin Cities Assembly Plant open and in operation seems to boil down to money. Certainly a plant that Ford is willing to demolish isn't worth anything so the company would not expect any payment for the plant itself. As for the machinery and equipment in the plant this has been paid for by tax-payers many times over through the tax abatements, etc. that Ford has received over the years... any payment for this equipment would be very minimal once the accountants start figuring.

As for the land... well, Ford workers generated billions of dollars in profits for the Ford Motor company over the years... I would be willing to guess that Ford workers would be willing to call it all even-Steven if Ford would deed the property to the State... if not we can find partners in China, Venezuela, and Cuba.

Former Senator Mark Dayton said he would be pursuing a career bringing Chinese and Minnesota business partners together. This could be his first job; certainly with his philanthropic outlook he would be willing to undertake this project pro bono.

The question that begs asking is why Mark Dayton has not proposed a joint venture with the Chinese government to keep the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant open as a publicly owned enterprise producing environmentally friendly "green" mass transit equipment and a new breed of private transportation? The Venezuelans who have lots of oil money, and the Cubans who have lots of nickle could be brought in as partners also.

My suggestion is that we send a delegation headed up by Mark Dayton which would include union and community leaders and individual citizens and a few legislative leaders known to be sympathetic to saving and creating jobs, like Tom Rukavina and Tony Sertich to China, Venezuela, and Cuba to check out the feasibility of such a joint venture. Perhaps George Lattimore could be convinced to participate and would use his Chinese connections, too.

We can do this... We can keep the Twin Cities Assembly Plant open and producing; and we can do this with cooperative partners instead of capitalist parasites.

The only thing that needs to be changed is the sign... just take "Ford" off the sign by painting over the name. Or we could make a new sign, "The Friendship Twin Cities Assembly Plant."

The Chinese can teach us how to take maximum advantage of public ownership, the Cubans can, too. I think this would be a lesson worth learning.

In fact, if we follow the lead of the way the Chinese and Cubans organize their manufacturing facilities according to articles that have appeared in the Wall Street Journal... we could anticipate the creation of perhaps sixty thousand new jobs in the Twin Cities. Click on the title of this blog, scroll down, and read for yourself how the Chinese do it. What is a burden to capitalists is a better life for working people.

Our tax dollars are financing a massive new plant for the Minnesota based Mattracks Corporation in China; this new plant will include housing and dining for the workers on site. No reason why we can't do the same thing here... after all, some politicians are proposing turning the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant property into upscale housing that Ford workers would not be able to reside in with their meager buyout payments... there is plenty of property in the area to develop into housing for workers... why should Chinese workers have free housing at the expense of American tax-payers when Minnesota workers don't get the same? We can learn how the Chinese do this.

Something to talk about around the kitchen table.

I have been receiving dozens of e-mails and phone calls daily from people asking me what they can do to help save the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant. Typically this is the way I respond and I hope readers of this blog will consider pitching in:

Thanks for your letter.

Actually there has been a great deal of interest in our proposal for public ownership whenever people have had the chance to read our article, and some legislation is now being introduced in the Minnesota legislature to prevent Ford from demolishing the plant as they intend to do (see link below).

My blog postings on this issue have attracted quite a bit of attention.

However, the main reason for “so little interest” is the fact that the major media seems to be kind of “boycotting” any discussion of the concept of “public ownership” of the plant at this point; I think this speaks directly to the issue of what kind of “free press” we have in this country and who this “free press” is beholden to. I sent out an op/ed piece to over 25 newspapers around Labor Day; “coincidentally” not one got published even though several of the papers have often published my views on a variety of issues from the rights of casino workers, to mine closings, contract negotiations, ending the war in Iraq, the minimum wage, etc. It seems the issue of “public ownership” is taboo… but if the media becomes aware that many other people consider this a legitimate alternative then they will start picking the issue up, if for no other reason than to attack the proposal, which would create more interest.

Anything you can do to use the Internet, etc. to get more interest in this question would be fantastic! Perhaps send out an e-mail with links to my blog and the links below and encourage everyone receiving the e-mail to send it to everyone they know.

Try to get a letter to the editor published. Even if they won’t print it, it lets the media know people are considering the idea.

One thing you and others can do is to circulate very widely the article that Christine Frank and I wrote; ask others to post the article or a link to it. We are each like little snowflakes, we don’t amount to much… but if we all start circulating this article widely we will have the effect of a Midwest blizzard.

Here is a link to an updated article:


I would encourage you to contact as many Minnesota legislators as possible to get behind this proposed legislation... it is very important that Ford not be allowed to demolish this plant so we have time to continue community and state-wide grassroots and rank and file efforts for public ownership of the plant.

I have not had time to post this article to my blog yet… but will do so today.

Another link I would encourage you to look at and circulate widely: www.laborandsustainability.org

I am cc’ing your letter on to Christine Frank, perhaps she also has some suggestions for you; and to State Representative Bill Hilty. I have bcc’ed your letter to several other people who have expressed a similar concern. Perhaps they will contact you with their ideas, too.

I would appreciate it if you would keep me posted on what you decide to do.

This is for sure one situation where “out of sight, is out of mind.” It will take tremendous grassroots efforts to get things moving.

I would encourage you to contact State Representatives and push the idea of public ownership (you might want to include their e-mail addresses if you decide to send out an e-mail to your friends: Bill Hilty- rep.bill.hilty@house.mn ; Tony Sertich- rep.tony.sertich@house.mn ; and Tom Rukavina- rep.tom.rukavina@house.mn ; Tom Anzelc- rep.tom.anzelc@house.mn I believe these legislators will be key to moving this issue forward… especially Bill Hilty and Tony Sertich.

I am also including the link to my daily blog for your convenience if you want to put all of this together for an e-mail… or even just forward this e-mail on to others and ask them to do the same: http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/

The link to our article is: http://laborjournal.blogspot.com/2006/12/ford-twin-cities-assembly-plant.html

Some people have told me the issue of “public ownership” is too controversial. However, I don’t hear any other better alternatives than what Christine and I have proposed in our article to keep this plant open. I would think throwing two thousand auto workers out into the streets and demolishing a perfectly good plant would be more controversial than who owns the plant.

Quite frankly, I believe that in a democracy such decisions as plant shut-downs should be made with the full participation of all affected and not in secrecy behind the closed doors of corporate board-rooms… I believe this issue is one that if so basic and fundamental to what kind of democracy we have in this country that everyone should be raising their voices demanding a say in the future of the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant in St. Paul, Minnesota… if we can’t be part of the decision making process on such basic questions, democracy becomes kind of a farce.

By the way, where do you live and work?

Let’s keep in touch.

Yours in the struggle,