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"Competitive", a corporate idiom for GREED!

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"Competitive", a corporate idiom for GREED! PostMon Sep 06, 2004 6:28 pm  Reply with quote  

Bye bye U.S. economy. The pro-business republicans are gladly watching the financial infrastructure slip away. People who own companies that re-locate overseas at the cost of American workers to increase profit by even the slightest margin should be exiled along with their sh*t factories. It's amazing to me that these redneck moron Bush advocates these days in the south still vote Bush. Some of them may live in their pickup trucks or even a fu**ing tent because their job was sent to foreign soil but hey, "...that there Bush hates fags & Muslims...", "...he also believes in God...". For hatred and blind ideology they're willing to starve. On the bright side, in the end even the affluent will suffer from their own stupidity as wages fall, consumer demand drops and people can no longer afford to buy their garbage anymore. "The first shall be last and the last shall be first".

Wrangler Lay-offs

POSTED: 10:54 p.m. MDT September 1, 2004

September 1, 2004 -- There are three Wrangler facilities in the El Paso County that will be affected.

The operations at the facility on Pan American Drive will be completely shut down while the other two facilities will reduce their workforce, that leaves 1035 people and their families worried about how they're going to make ends meet.

Victor Vasquez, a father of six, had been working at the Wrangler plant on Pan American for 10 years. He was notified today, December 10th would be his last day. For others it could be sooner.

Daniel Caballero- Wrangler Employee, "It is sad before it comes at a very critical time for everybody, we have to break the news to our families."

These Wrangler employees are just two of the 1035 garment workers that will be out of a job. Most workers are inspectors and machine operators that sew, wash and press garments.

Sam Tucker- VF Jeanswear Human Resources, "Just from a competitive stand point we're having to take production from US and move it somewhere else."

The VF Jeanswear Corporation owns Wrangler. Vice President of Human Resources for VF Jeanswear, Sam Tucker, says a portion of their US based production will be moving to owned facilities in Chihuahua, Mexico.

The plant on Rojas and another one in Fabens will remain open with a total of 550 employees. But with the garment industry disappearing from the United States, no one know how long those employees are expected to continue working.

Eduardo Martinez, a bar code inspector, says he's just grateful that for the last 11 he's had a good paying job. And like most of his co-workers he's thinking positively.

Caballero, "It'll be hard for all of us to get back on our feet again. Like I said we must move forward."
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PostMon Sep 06, 2004 6:45 pm  Reply with quote

'Tell Arnold to stop by here' Economic girlie men?
September 6, 2004


John Keramidas is an economic girlie man. It's not like he flaunts it. I mean, if you saw him walking down the street, you'd never even guess. He walks economically straight, I'd say, and dresses economically straight. He could pass for economically macho at a Halliburton picnic.

But at last week's Republican National Convention, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the super-rich governor of California, said Americans who complain about hard times are nothing but "economic girlie men," and you can bet he had guys like Keramidas in mind. Talk about a whiner.

"There are jobs out there, but they're mostly low-wage," Keramidas is saying, explaining why he has been unemployed since April. "For a person with skills and a degree, it's tight right now."

See. There you go. A total economic girlie man. I'm a little embarrassed Arnold had to out him before I could see it.

It's Thursday afternoon in Arlington Heights, and as it happens, I'm standing in a whole room full of economic girlie men and economic girlie girls.

They are hunkered over computers at the Northwest Employment & Training Center, where they are typing resumes and cover letters. A couple are combing through newspapers and Web sites for job leads. A few more are on the phone, begging in a dignified way for interviews.

'Don't come back anymore'

Not one of them has a good thing to say about the economy, and I just want to shake them: Can't they see the bright side? Arnold has a job, and so do I.

"If you made $15 million for six weeks of work on a movie, it wouldn't matter if you were unemployed for two years," says a guy combing through job ads in the Daily Herald, looking over Keramidas' shoulder. "Tell Arnold to stop by here."

I detect anger.

Keramidas, 27, was a workers compensation manager earning $41,500 a year for a small firm under contract with two insurance companies. But then the contract was terminated, and about 10 employees, including Keramidas, were laid off.

Now he's living with his folks in Mount Prospect again and paying $400 a month for health insurance. His unemployment benefits, $1,174 a month, run out next month.

Keramidas says he could get a machine operator job that pays $9 an hour, but he can't see a career in that -- or a ticket out of his parents' house. He has this crazy dream that one day he'll buy a little house and get married and have kids.

"You're doing a pretty good job for two years, then one day they take you in an office and say, 'Nice job, don't come back anymore,' " he says. "I've been off five months, and I've noticed a shift in attitude. If people said obnoxious things before, I'd let it go. Now...."

All around the room, the other economic girlie men nod and laugh. But it's a laugh that says nothing's funny.

"It's hard to get out of bed some days knowing maybe you won't find anything," says Mary Kay Jakubowski, 54, who lives in Schaumburg. "But you have to keep trying, keep a positive attitude. The real sad thing is, I loved my job."

Jakubowski was a customer service representative for six years with a plastics company, earning $29,000 a year. If a customer called up with a problem, she took the call and made sure the problem got solved. But then, as she explains it, the company cut the plant's third shift and laid off about 25 of the 150 employees, including her. That was in April.

"Now I'm finding it difficult because of my age," she says. "People don't tell you you're too old. You can just tell. People look at you differently."

'I'm saying how it is'

The breaking news Friday was that the nation's unemployment rate slipped to 5.4 percent in August, down from 5.5 percent in July, and the economy added 144,000 jobs. On the face of it, that sounds good.

Unfortunately, disappointed economists had predicted a net gain of 150,000 jobs. And labor leaders say the new jobs can't compare to the old jobs -- they're more Wal-Mart than U.S. Steel -- which is why household incomes have dropped $1,500 in the last two years.

But enough already. I'm starting to sound like an economic girlie man. And, honestly, I can't understand what people have to complain about -- I've got a job.

Still, I have to wonder what the future holds for a guy like Peter Ghera.

Pete, who lives in Rolling Meadows, is 58. He served his country in Vietnam, then worked 18 years for a big bank as a payroll conversion specialist. That means he set up payroll systems for companies that didn't want to do it themselves anymore.

But then Pete's division at the bank was sold. And sold again. And the second new owner decided to keep all of Pete's clients, but fired Pete and his co-workers.

So Pete, who always wanted to work outside an office anyway, made the best of it and drove a truck for another 10 years. But then Pete's new employer shut down its trucking division and laid off the drivers, including Pete. That was 21 months ago.

Now Pete goes to the job center every morning. He's got a bad back and can't lift things like he used to, so he's working on his computer skills and looking for another inside job.

"They've got jobs for $13 an hour, and they want a bachelor's degree," he says. "I know how to work hard. I've got a lot of skills. But they want a 23-year-old kid with a degree."

I tell Pete that sounds a little like complaining. Is he an economic girlie man?

"I'm saying how it is," he says. "I was making $20 an hour, but I'd work for less. I've cut into my 401(k). I'm running out of money. I just want to cover that mortgage."

I wonder how Arnold's 401(k) is doing. I wonder if he's had any trouble lately covering his mortgage. I wonder if he can remember -- or has ever known -- the absolute misery of being unemployed.

Not that Arnold would ever be an economic girlie man.

He's married to Maria, and she's got that Kennedy family trust fund.

Happy Labor Day, Arnold.
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PostMon Sep 06, 2004 7:03 pm  Reply with quote

A home advantage for U.S. corporations
By Lou Dobbs
Friday, August 27, 2004 Posted: 1:51 PM EDT (1751 GMT)

(CNN) -- The loss of millions of manufacturing jobs and hundreds of thousands of service jobs over the past few years, and the threat of the loss of millions more to offshore outsourcing, is a clear call to our business and political leaders that our trade policies simply are not working. At the least, not in the national interest.

The exporting of U.S. jobs to cheap foreign labor markets has produced nationwide pain from our nation's major cities to our small towns, in urban and suburban America.

Obviously, I'd prefer Corporate America to stop the practice of offshore outsourcing because of the dictates of their consciences and recognition of this country's traditional values and good corporate citizenship.

But if U.S. multinationals instead invoke the code words of competitiveness, efficiency and productivity -- when what they really mean is the cheapest possible price for labor -- then we must insist on new laws and regulations to stop it.

Not all companies would have to be regulated to do the right thing. Some are finding ways in which to keep American jobs in this country and keep their commitment to employees and communities.

Most U.S. multinationals that outsource, or ones that plan to do so, generally cite a 40 percent cost savings per exported American job as their main reason for doing so.

A New York state outsourcing study, says Howard Rubin, executive vice president of META Group, recently concluded that the actual savings figure is closer to 20 percent.

Sure, the labor itself may be cheap, but Rubin said the hidden costs that many companies ignore could level the playing field in a hurry. Costs like corporate planning and training, making the transition abroad, severance and layoff fees, travel, security and the chance of losing business from customer complaints can easily cut into those savings by more than half.

"The rush to Indian call centers was driven by cost," Rubin said. "It was a semi-robotic approach that was driven by people doing technical diagnosis...But the myth and reality are now crossing each other," he said. "Especially with things that require secure communications or severe risk management, suddenly a worker in India and a worker in Utica [New York] are at parity."

That parity is not only good for the corporate bottom line, but it could mean one more unemployed American back on the job. Quality and public relations concerns, political backlash and potential lost business already caused a few well-known companies to repatriate their call centers to America's small towns.

Dell recently brought a call center back from India after repeated customer complaints, planting itself in Twin Falls, Idaho. I can only hope this becomes the new trend in so-called corporate cost savings.

Other companies have either moved from bigger cities or simply set up call centers in small towns. U.S. Bank contemplated a move to India, but eventually decided to put the call center for its credit-card division in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, a city of less than 40,000 with high unemployment. Also, financial services call centers from companies like American Express and Citi Cards, a division of Citigroup, have boosted the local economy of Guilford County, North Carolina.

Many of these locales are equipped with empty warehouses and factories to support call centers and corporate offices for even large businesses. Still, many companies would rather export jobs to cheaper labor overseas than provide steady work for unemployed Americans in these towns and cities.

It's time to insist that Corporate America find a conscience and demonstrate true innovation to keep jobs at home, or we have no other recourse than to demand new laws and regulations to end the exporting of America.

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PostMon Sep 06, 2004 7:33 pm  Reply with quote  


ALL part of FTAA...which BUSH wholeheartedly supports with his BUDDY-BUDDY fellow globalist VINCENTE' FOX..

We dont have "CAPITALISM" any more...this is FUEDALISM.

Or CRONY capitalism.

They are the barons and lords in the high castle and WE are THEIR SERFS.
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PostTue Sep 07, 2004 7:49 pm  Reply with quote

Following two weak months of job growth, growth in August modest
Job growth was a modest 144,000 in August, enough to absorb the increase in working-age population but, in the long-term, too small to actually lower unemployment (unless the labor force shrinks again, as it did last month). August's job growth follows two months of very weak growth of 73,000 in July and 96,000 in June and is substantially slower than the 295,000 jobs created monthly (on average) in March, April, and May. This pace of job creation is far slower than what the Bush Administration said would follow as a result of its 2003 tax cuts.

The Bush Administration called the tax cut package, which took effect in July 2003, its "Jobs and Growth Plan." The president's economics staff, the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA, see background documents), projected that the plan would result in the creation of 5.5 million jobs by the end of 2004 — 306,000 new jobs each month starting in July 2003. The CEA projected that the economy would generate 228,000 jobs a month without a tax cut and 306,000 jobs a month with the tax cut. Thus, it projected that 4,284,000 jobs would be created over the last 14 months. In reality, since the tax cuts took effect, there are 2,668,000 fewer jobs than the administration projected would be created by enactment of its tax cuts. The August job growth of 144,000 fell 162,000 jobs short of the administration's projection. As can be seen in the chart below, job creation failed to meet the administration's projections in 12 of the past 14 months.

Weakest job recovery since the 1930s
Since the recession began 41 months ago in March 2001, 1.0 million jobs have disappeared from the U.S. economy, representing a 0.8% contraction. To put this performance in historical perspective, the Bureau of Labor Statistics began collecting monthly jobs data in 1939 (at the end of the Great Depression). In every previous episode of recession and job decline since 1939, the number of jobs had fully recovered to above the pre-recession peak within at least 31 months of the start of the recession (the average, excluding the 1991 recovery, has been 20 months to full recovery).

Private-sector jobs have fared worse than public-sector jobs. Jobs in the private sector have dropped by 1.7 million since March 2001, representing a 1.5% contraction. However, having no job losses, or gains, is a very low standard by which to judge a recovery — with history as a guide, one would have hoped that the economy would have recovered the jobs lost months ago. If job growth had been at the pace of other post-war business cycles (a 5.5% growth by the 41st month), then over 7 million new jobs would have been created by now.

Declines continue in employer-provided health care coverage
According to an EPI analysis of the new data released by the US Census last week, employer-provided health insurance coverage fell between 2002 and 2003, continuing its decline since 2000. In 2003, 56.4% of workers who worked at least 20 hours per week and 26 weeks per year received employer-provided health insurance from their own employer, down from 57.3% the year before and down a total of 2.5 percentage points since 2000. Workers earning lower wages are significantly less likely to have employer-provided health coverage than workers earning higher wages. In 2003, 77.8% of workers in the highest quintile had employer-provided health insurance, whereas only 24.9% of workers in the lowest quintile did. Although the decline in employer-provided health insurance from 2000 to 2003 pervaded all wage levels, the number of insured workers with wages in the second wage quintile (see chart) fell the most (-4.0%).

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PostTue Sep 07, 2004 7:55 pm  Reply with quote

Dissenter on Outsourcing States His Case

By ECT News Business Desk
09/07/04 8:44 AM PT

Mainstream economists acknowledge that some people will gain and others will suffer in the short term, but they quickly add that "the gains of the American winners are big enough to more than compensate for the losers." That assumption is "only an innuendo," Samuelson writes. Trade, in other words, does not always work to all parties' advantage.

At 89, Paul Samuelson, the Nobel laureate in economics and professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology , still seems to have plenty of intellectual edge and ample ability to antagonize and amuse.

His dissent from the mainstream economic consensus about outsourcing and globalization will appear this month in a distinguished professional journal, cloaked in clever phrases and theoretical equations, but clearly aimed at the orthodoxy: Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve; N.Gregory Mankiw, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers; and Jagdish Bhagwati, a leading international economist and professor at Columbia University.

These heavyweights, among others, are perpetrators of what Samuelson terms "the popular polemical untruth."

The Costs of Trade
That untruth, Samuelson asserts in the article for the Journal of Economic Perspectives, is the assumption that the laws of economics dictate that the U.S. economy will benefit in the long run from all forms of trade, including the outsourcing of call-center and software programming jobs abroad.

Sure, Samuelson writes, the mainstream economists acknowledge that some people will gain and others will suffer in the short term, but they quickly add that "the gains of the American winners are big enough to more than compensate for the losers." That assumption, so widely shared by economists, is "only an innuendo," Samuelson writes. "For it is dead wrong about necessary surplus of winnings over losings."

Trade, in other words, does not always work to all parties' advantage, according to Samuelson.

Simplistic Views of Globalization
In an interview last week, Samuelson said he had written the article to "set the record straight" because "the mainstream defenses of globalization were much too simple a statement of the problem."

Samuelson emphasized that his article was not meant as a justification for protectionist measures. Up to now, he said, the gains to America have outweighed the losses from trade, but that outcome is not necessarily guaranteed in the future.

In his article, Samuelson begins by noting the unease many Americans feel about their jobs and wages these days, especially as the economies of China and India emerge on the strength of their low wage rates, increasingly skilled workers and rising technological prowess.

The essay is Samuelson's effort to contribute economic nuance to the policy debate over outsourcing and trade. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, a quarterly published by the American Economic Association, has a modest circulation of 21,000 but it is influential in the economics profession. Indeed, Bhagwati and two other economics professors, Arvind Panagariya of Columbia and T.N. Srinivasan of Yale, have already submitted an article to the journal, "The Muddles Over Outsourcing," that is partly a response to Samuelson.

The Samuelson critique carries added weight given the stature of the author. "He invented so many of the economic models that everyone uses," noted Timothy Taylor, managing editor of the Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Exporting Jobs Lowers U.S. Wages
According to Samuelson, a low-wage country that is rapidly improving its technology , like India or China, has the potential to change the terms of trade with America in fields like call-center services or computer programming in ways that reduce U.S. per capita income. "Being able to purchase groceries 20 percent cheaper at Wal- Mart does not necessarily make up for the wage losses," he said in the interview.

The global spread of lower-cost computing and Internet communications, he noted, could accelerate the pressure on wages across large swaths of the service economy.

"If you don't believe that changes the average wages in America, then you believe in the tooth fairy," Samuelson said.

For his part, Bhagwati does not dispute the model that Samuelson presents in his journal article.

Outsourcing Worries Overblown?
"Paul is great economist and a terrific theorist," he observed. "And in markets like information technology services, where America has a big advantage, it is true that if skills build up abroad that narrows our competitive advantage and our exports will be hit."

But Bhagwati doubts whether the Samuelson model applies broadly to the economy. "Paul and I disagree only on the realistic aspects of this," he said.

The magnified concern, Bhagwati said, is that China takes away most of American manufacturing and India most of high-technology services business. Looking at the small number of jobs actually sent abroad, and based on his own knowledge of developing nations, he concludes that outsourcing worries are greatly exaggerated
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PostTue Sep 07, 2004 8:23 pm  Reply with quote  

The only way America can compete against the cheaper labor of the other countries, is by building a lot more prisons and filling them with forced cheap labor.
"The police are not here to create disorder.
The police are here to preserve disorder." Mayor Richard Daley
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PostTue Sep 07, 2004 9:32 pm  Reply with quote

Hundreds of Maytag Workers Rally Around Each Other
Monica Landeros

Sixteen hundred workers in Galesburg will soon lose their jobs at Maytag.

It's part of the company's plan to shut down their Galesburg plant and move production to another country.

But Saturday, many of those workers fought back in a huge show of solidarity

Hundreds of workers, their families, and a handful of state and local leaders showed up to protest massive job cuts in Galesburg--their own.

The workers believe their jobs at the Maytag plant are worth fighting for.

But it's a fight they are losing, because soon, Maytag will pull production out of Galesburg and send work to Mexico, where labor is cheaper. And while the company made the announcement some time ago, it still stings.

“We made this company successful--the workers, the middle class, the people that actually got in there and did the labor,” says Jerry Wilmouth, former Maytag worker.

U.S. Senate Candidate Barack Obama says the struggle of workers is always on his mind.

"How do I make sure a situation like what's happening in Galesburg does not happen again? How can I make sure ordinary folks get a decent shot at life?” says U.S. Senate Candidate Barack Obama to hundreds of cheering Galesburg residents.

And those at Saturday’s rally say all the support from lawmakers is crucial, especially now, because they feel like they are victims of corporate greed.

“I realize my job is gone. I mean, we're looking for some accountability from corporations,” says Wilmouth.

So the hope is rally's like this one can help fix the growing problem of companies leaving the U.S. for cheaper labor in other countries. It's a problem everyone involved says can be solved, but not overnight.

“Because it took us 20 years to get in this hole, it's taking 20 years to get out, but its starts right here, it starts right now, and it starts with us,” says Obama.

Some workers say they hope state leaders can brainstorm some incentives for companies, like Maytag, to keep production in the U.S.

And the State's Attorney says he hopes a lawsuit he filed against Maytag will be settled by the end of this month.

State's Attorney Paul Mangieri filed a lawsuit against Maytag for more than a million dollars in un paid taxes.

At Saturday’s rally Mangieri said if he win the suit, he plans to use the money for the local school district.

“I hope the message that it sends is that 'What’s right is right.' if they have the money, which I believe they do, then it ought to be paid when your talking about winding up business and they chose not to do business anymore. Then we should be business lined and make sure everything is balanced,” says State's Attorney Paul Mangieri.

Maytag says it repaid all state and city loans when it announced plans to close its plant in Galesburg.
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PostFri Sep 10, 2004 2:10 am  Reply with quote
By Denise Becker, Staff Writer
News & Record

When a group of American furniture makers asked the federal government for help against Chinese imports last fall, it anticipated some friction within an industry that has always touted itself as one big family.

Instead, that request ignited a nasty family feud, pitting some of the nation's largest manufacturers against each other and furniture retailers.

"I cannot think of an issue in my 25 years in this industry that has created this much animosity," said Fred Schuermann, former president of the now-dissolved Ladd Furniture, which was based in Greensboro.

That fight has fractured, perhaps permanently, the Triad's second-largest industry, and it leaves North Carolina's furniture factories facing a growing roster of global competitors, some of which have gained momentum during the domestic infighting.

"We used to be good old boys and friendly competitors who would slap each other on the back," said Russ Childress, a furniture industry consultant. "Well, this ain't fun no more. There are trenches and gulfs here that will never be repaired."

The rift has created chaos in an industry already facing mounting challenges. And unless the U.S. Department of Commerce reverses its decision to impose relatively small duties on Chinese imports, two scenarios are assured: The strongest importers will become stronger, and already-besieged U.S. factory workers will see more plant closings.

Fractured family

Imports, particularly from China, have made the American furniture worker an endangered species. More than 16,600 furniture workers in North Carolina and 71,000 nationwide have lost their jobs in the past five years.

A group of 30 furniture makers hoped to halt this importing juggernaut when it asked the U.S. government for help in a formal petition. It said Chinese furniture makers were breaking trade laws by selling furniture at artificially low prices, a practice known as "dumping."

If the United States levied duties on these imports, the domestic industry could be protected from further erosion, they argued, and American jobs would be protected.

But opponents said Chinese factories produce furniture at lower prices because of low labor rates there.

"It's not competition with China that's the problem for U.S. plants," said Jeff Cook, president of Magnussen Home, which makes all its furniture overseas. "It's being part of the world economy."

Furniture companies on both sides have spent thousands on legal fees at a time when consumers are spending less on furniture. And fewer sales mean fewer jobs, no matter where the furniture is made.

"I don't see where fighting among ourselves and building a wall around the United States is the answer," said petition opponent Geoff Beaston, president of Fine Furniture Design & Marketing, which makes all its furniture in China. "We have a tremendous amount of energy and capital going into both prosecuting and defending the sides of this instead of leading our companies."

The petitioners boast some well-known names: Stanley Furniture, Bassett Furniture Industries and subsidiaries of La-Z-Boy Inc., including Pennsylvania House and Kincaid Furniture. Those opposing them are also big guns: retailers Rooms to Go, The Bombay Co., Crate and Barrel, J.C. Penney and manufacturing giant Furniture Brands International, which owns Thomasville Furniture, Drexel Heritage and Broyhill Furniture Cos.

Unlike dumping cases in other industries, there is not a clear line between importers and domestic producers. Nearly all the manufacturers behind the petition also import furniture, including some from China.

"The petitioners are on planes and in the air today -- in the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam -- seeking products," said Kevin O'Connor, president of Legacy Classic Furniture, which makes all its furniture in China. "That's ludicrous."

As the fight has become more emotional, the impact has spilled onto some companies' bottom lines.

Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co. has lost as many as 20 major accounts because of its outspoken support of the petition, costing the company about $8?million annually in sales, said Doug Bassett, sales director of Vaughan-Bassett.

"If you get identified with our side, the other side is cutting you off cold," he said. "The people who oppose this investigation are playing hardball."

The fight became so bitter that Hooker Furniture Co., a third-generation manufacturer with deep roots in North Carolina and Virginia, decided to pull out of the coalition before the Commerce Department's preliminary ruling.

Lexington Home Brands also struggled with the issue. At first, the company said it would join the coalition, then quickly reversed itself. Lexington President Bob Stec said industry leaders must recognize that the business has changed fundamentally and forever.

"(Furniture making) already is a global business on so many fronts," Stec said. "To ignore that would be sad. I would hate to see longtime friendships go by the wayside because of a business decision."

Fight isn't over

Supporters of the anti-dumping petition, however, say it's too early to determine what the final impact of the government's investigation will be.

"This is just a halftime score," said Bassett of Vaughan-Bassett. "And I would emphasize, the one fact that we know today that we didn't know a year ago is that China is illegally dumping bedroom furniture into the United States."

The Commerce Department's preliminary ruling in June that Chinese manufacturers are dumping wood bedroom furniture resulted in a tiered system of duties. Most Chinese factories are paying about 11 percent.

Yet the ruling may prove a hollow victory for the petitioners, who formed the American Committee for Legal Trade.

"Essentially, those kind of increases do not take the (Chinese) product out of play for the average retailers," Legacy Classic's O'Connor said.

But Bassett counters that the industry shouldn't dismiss the possibility that the Commerce Department could levy significantly higher duties when it issues its final ruling, expected in November.

"The (current) results are based solely on information that the Chinese have handed over to the U.S. government," he said. "No single bit of information has been verified by the Commerce Department."

The majority of the adjustments made by the Commerce Department to date, however, have been to lower the duties -- from 198 percent to 10.92?percent for 20 companies and from 19.24 percent to 11.85?percent for another one. Only two companies have had rates increased.

And some importers say they expect the duties to be reduced or disappear altogether.

In the end, the duties are not going to do anything to slow fundamental changes in the industry, said Keith Hughes, an analyst with SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. "This is not the big bang that many people thought it would be."

More competition

The dumping investigation may hurt domestic furniture makers in a more serious way: by speeding up the movement of furniture manufacturing to countries outside China, creating more global competition.

"In general, we treated the anti-dumping petition like a death sentence," Magnussen Home's Cook said. "We felt we had a loaded gun to our head and were very aggressive about shifting production of bedroom furniture out of China."

Before the petition, 100 percent of Magnussen Home's bedroom furniture was made in China; today, it is less than 20 percent. By the end of the year, Magnussen Home's furniture will be made in five countries, and the list is growing. The only place it didn't consider was the United States.

Some petitioners continue to shrink their domestic presence, a trend that has accelerated since the Commerce Department's preliminary ruling.

La-Z-Boy is speeding up its shift to overseas production and will close four U.S. plants, including one in Hudson this month.

After the closings, more than three-quarters of all wood furniture sold by La-Z-Boy will be made overseas.

Stickley Furniture, another petitioner, announced this summer that it is building a plant in Vietnam.

Petition leaders Vaughan-Bassett and Vaughan Furniture, both based in Galax, Va., have announced plant closings this year, blaming imports.

"At the end of the day, an 11?percent duty is 11 percent, and I'm happy to have it," said Bill Vaughan, president of Vaughan Furniture and one of the first supporters of the petition. "But that's not nearly high enough to make a difference that would have saved American jobs."

Chinese furniture imports into the United States continue to grow: China sent $5.8 billion worth of furniture here in 2003, a 20 percent increase from the year before.

Imports from Brazil, Malaysia and Thailand also increased between 2002 and 2003. And imports from Vietnam, still the smallest trading partner for furniture in the United States, have more than doubled in the past year.

Even so, China is still the biggest producer, and replacing it as a primary manufacturing source won't be easy.

"It's hard enough to move production from plant A to plant B in Thomasville," consultant Childress said. "Just try moving across a body of water to a country where they speak a different language."

Still, if the United States imposed significant penalties on Chinese-made wood bedroom furniture, it might make outsourcing to China less attractive, industry leaders say.

"We thought (the duties) might be as much as 20 to 25?percent," La-Z-Boy Chairman Pat Norton said. "And that would have done a lot to level the playing field."

As it stands, however, Norton and other senior executives with La-Z-Boy just traveled to China to shore up ties there.

Furniture Brands International, the largest manufacturer to publicly oppose the petition, said China will remain a primary manufacturing site, even as the company continues to look elsewhere.

"Because of the skill levels that have developed in China and the capacity and infrastructure that is in place there, a 10 percent tariff will very likely not be enough to justify the disruption and expense of moving manufacturing to Vietnam," said Lynn Chipperfield, senior vice president of Furniture Brands.

Strong get stronger

In addition to increased competition from new countries, the duties as they stand now will strengthen the largest Chinese furniture makers, making them even more fierce competitors for U.S. factories, which may lead to even more plant closings and layoffs here.

"China is not out of the game," Childress said. "China still is the game."

With the lowest of all duty rates, LacquerCraft has already received inquiries from companies looking to set up manufacturing relationships with it, O'Connor said. LacquerCraft recently opened a 6,000-worker plant near Shanghai.

"If you've got the biggest and most efficient plant in the world and the lowest duties, why wouldn't someone want to come here?" O'Connor asked. "It's clear that the strong will get stronger."

Regardless of the outcome, Doug Bassett said he's glad this small group of U.S. manufacturers made a stand.

"Even if the duties do not go up dramatically, the suggestion that U.S. bedroom manufacturers should have ignored the illegal activity and just continue to shut down plants, that's simply ridiculous," Bassett said. "Not a single U.S. worker should lose his job to illegal trade."

But LADD Furniture's Schuermann said the petition was a last-ditch stand by a domestic industry that had failed to invest in itself for decades.

"The die was cast," Schuermann said. "The (petitioners) are trying to save a sinking ship. This state has got to realize that its core businesses are in peril. They have basically been mortally wounded by global competition."

In the end, the industry has no choice but to adapt or die, said Norton, who has worked as an executive in the industry for more than half a century.

"We have to learn to work within the global picture, which we have not been accustomed to doing," he said.
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Joined: 14 Jul 2003
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PostSat Sep 11, 2004 1:30 pm  Reply with quote  

One by one we give our jobs away to others while that one same word appears again and again. Too bad that in the end, the country as a whole will no longer be competitive as we slowly crumble away.

EDS May Cut Up To 20,000 Jobs Sept. 10, 2004

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IT Services

The IT services company may lay off as many as 20,000 from its global workforce of 125,000, in an effort to remain competitive with archrival IBM and low-cost offshore service providers.
By Paul McDougall

IT services provider EDS may cut up to 20,000 positions from its global workforce as the company looks to reduce costs, EDS chairman and CEO Michael Jordan said at an investors conference Thursday in New York.
Jordan has previously said that EDS needs to reduce operating costs by 20%--or $3 billion--over the next two years to remain competitive in its industry. The company has already cut about 5,000 positions in the past year from a workforce of 125,000.

Jordan has said the cuts are necessary for the company to be price competitive with IBM Global Services and low-cost competitors from India. EDS is increasing its presence in emerging markets such as South America and Asia as it reduces headcount in the United States and Europe.

Analysts note, however, that it may take several years for EDS to realize any benefits from its efforts to cut its workforce. Many of its European employees, for instance, are protected by European labor laws that require employers to provide laid-off workers with three years of severance pay. Still, investors appeared to welcome the news. EDS shares were up 1.38% to $19.78 in early-afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
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