An automotive supplier in Niles plans to add 45 additional workers by the end of the year.
The Pilkington plant now employs 200 workers to make automotive glass products like windshields, windows, and sunroofs.
Michigan 6th District Congressman Fred Upton toured the plant today and considers Pilkington to be a pretty good barometer of how local auto suppliers are faring.
“Really, a third of our local jobs, manufacturing jobs, are auto related,” said U.S. Rep. Upton. “As the auto industry begins to rebound for all of these parts suppliers, whether it be glass, or you name the part, all of the sudden the need is coming back.”
To Upton, the progress at Pilkington seems to indicate that the ‘glass’ is finally half full. “I didn’t know what I was going to see until I came down,” said Congressman Upton. “But I knew that this was one of the companies that has been a beacon for us in southwest Michigan.
However, Congressman Upton made it clear he doesn’t feel that its time for congress to turn its back on the long term unemployed.
In referring to the congressional stalemate on the further extension of unemployment benefits, Upton said, “Well, I voted to extend unemployment last week—twice—the first time it failed, the second time it passed, we’re now waiting for the senate.”
For Upton, the decision to support the unemployment extension was easy. “And we just don’t have the jobs yet, now it’s going to turn, we’re going to get the jobs, but for those hard hit states like Michigan, we ought to be extending the unemployment until the economy begins to get a little bit better, so I’m hoping that when the senate comes back into session next week, one of the first items that they’ll take up is to extend the unemployment benefits.”
On the other hand, Upton fears that the senate could also do the State of Michigan, and others in the Midwest, a good deal of economic harm if members pass an energy bill that includes Cap and Trade language, or places a tax on carbon emissions.
“And should it (the U.S. Senate) do so, states like Michigan and Indiana, which use more electricity generated from coal than the national average, will pay a high price. It will be a dagger, it will really hurt us in terms of job growth as well as potential if you raise these energy costs,” Rep. Upton said.
Congressman Upton says that Michigan gets about 65-percent of its electricity from coal and that the dependence is even higher in Indiana and Ohio.
Upton fears that if carbon emissions were taxed, “Companies will go someplace else. They’ll leave Michigan, they’ll leave Indiana, they’ll go to India and they’ll go to China, they’ll go to lots of places and they will never come back and that’s why this job killing Cap and Trade Bill or a carbon tax both will really cripple Michigan’s economy in a major way.”