Goshen workers protest possible move to Mexico

It may be two days before Halloween, but it looked more like the Fourth of July in Goshen today.

About 60 flag waving workers and supporters lined College Avenue to try and keep their jobs from moving to Mexico.

The protestors are among the 450 people who work at the Goshen Cequent Performance Products plant.

Last week, Cequent management made public a preliminary decision to move the work to Mexico, with a final decision to be made on November 19th.

While dozens of Cequent workers today lined the streets and shouted at passing cars and trucks, they also quietly made calls to the likes of the editors of the New York Times.

“It’s not to embarrass them (Cequent), it’s to tell them that we're here for you, we've been here for all these years and we need the job, the United States needs these jobs now,” said Deb Hathaway, Vice President of United Steelworkers local 9550.

Charles DeMent has worked at Cequent for about 10 years, and needs his job now—more than ever. “I got eight children, I got six boys and two girls, and my youngest daughter, three years old, she’s been in the hospital, she’s had major surgeries.”

In fact, DeMent says his daughter has accumulated more than $1 million in medical bills. “If we lose our insurance, all of it’s gonna go into Medicaid and so this, the government is going to end up fronting all of it.”

Meantime, Mark Schmanski questioned where in the world Cequent could find a worker who was more loyal. “I’ve worked here 19 and a half years, and I’m proud to tell you that during that time I’ve never missed work. And I just, I’ve heard this company making very high profits, and I don't understand why they would need to move.”

Chris Jarvis was on hand to make sure Cequent had considered all the possible consequences of a move to Mexico. “Our biggest product is the Reese hitch, for fifth wheels and just about everything else you can think of, you know Reese is kind of the Kleenex of tissues, you know to have that no longer made in America, I don’t know how many people would buy it, if any.”

Cequent workers looking to save their jobs were also joined by someone looking for a new job in congress.

Democratic Candidate for Indiana’s Second District seat, Brendan Mullen promised the kind of public policy change—that could be a game changer. “Right now, corporations are getting large tax subsidies to ship jobs overseas and out-source the workers here in our community, and we need to put a stop to that yesterday.”

Tomorrow, the union is scheduled to meet with company officials for the first bargaining session over a possible move.

A source close to the situation tells News Center 16 that the overall cost for production workers at the Goshen plant is $28.78 per hour, while the total cost for production labor in Mexico is just $4.08. The source said the overall cost of skilled labor at the Goshen plant is $32.83, while in Mexico it’s just $5.53.

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