Mar 16 2011
02:16 pm

Employees affected by Philips Lighting's decision to shutdown a factory in Sparta TN have organized a campaign to save the plant. As reported here back in November, the company plans to move 272 jobs from Sparta (White County) to Mexico.

According to organizers, the Philips facility is profitable, has received numerous industry awards, and has been making lighting products there for 40 years. There hasn't been a work stoppage in more than 30 years and labor has negotiated contracts that keep health care costs down and profits up for the company. The company even moved subcomponent production back to Sparta from China because Sparta was more cost efficient.

Sparta business and community leaders are behind employee efforts to get Philips to reconsider. Unemployment in White Co. is 12.2%, and the region has lost 9000 manufacturing jobs over the last decade.

Organizers have launched a website at with more info and a petition.

SEE ALSO: What Happened to Made in the U.S.A.?

Levon's picture

What was the profit %?

Did they happen to list the profit percentage? The term "profitable" is very arbitrary. What's better 1% profit with unknown future health care costs or 2% tax-free muni?

Speaking to various business-folk, many are scared of the additional health care costs they are certain to endure but cannot yet quantify.

Our country was built on competition and while a safety net is needed, we don't need to be protecting activities that are inefficient.

R. Neal's picture

many are scared of the

many are scared of the additional health care costs they are certain to endure but cannot yet quantify

Single-payer Medicare for all fixes that.

we don't need to be protecting activities that are inefficient

Like our current health care system? Offshoring jobs and profits to China and Mexico?

Levon's picture

Yes & no

I'm 100% with you on "single-payer Medicare" which I believe would help stave off some off-shoring. As it stands now, the many positive aspects of the health care reform law (pre-existing coverage & no lifetime caps)do create a frightening unknown for many firms. A great worker making $20/hour might have a diabetic child or a spouse on dialysis thereby costing the employer ~$200-300k if said firm is self-insured. Ouch.

As far as "off-shoring", continuing to do the work that we have done and expecting the same quality of life simply isn't realistic. We need to pump money into education and its time to reevaluate all aspects of our education system.

I clearly understand why George Meany and FDR were against public unions.

R. Neal's picture

Yes, but this is more about a

Yes, but this is more about a non-public union (IBEW) and a community that's about to get hammered even worse than they already have been.

Anyway, I'm willing to pay more for Made in the U.S.A.

cafkia's picture

Equally unrealistic, or

Equally unrealistic, or perhaps even more so, is the idea that people with no income or means to acquire such will continue to purchase your products. The big success of Ford's assembly line innovation was that the workers could afford the car. Had that work been done in China from the beginning, we would not have a car culture today. We should probably institute a large tariff on products that were formerly manufactured in this nation by the company or any derivative or offshoot that wishes to sell the product (import to here) now. Regardless of where the company is incorporated.

Stick's picture

Look... the idea that we're

Look... the idea that we're going to be a nation of 150 million engineers and "innovators" that only produce "high value added" goods and services is an utopian dream. It makes for a nice narrative but is unrealistic. At some point, this process will stop one way or another. I'd prefer that it meet its end because of purposeful, rational policy. However, I suspect that this will all end in tears. [Props to Marvin!]

Somebody's picture

At some point someone will

At some point someone will figure out that this is a national security issue. We have reached a point where a shopping trip for goods in nearly every category is largely impossible if you intentionally seek out US-made products. It's not a matter of having to pay more for US goods, it's that they are simply unavailable. At the same time we fret about dependence on Middle-Eastern oil, there are whole categories of goods where we are at-risk for interrupted supply chains due to factors offshore and beyond our control. I suppose it will take a disruptive shortage of some otherwise innocuous good before anyone figures it out.

One day Brian Williams will come on the evening news and announce, "Be careful with those lightbulbs in your home. If one breaks or blows out, you won't be able to get a replacement, because the Chinese have upped the ante in an escalating trade war, and they won't sell us any more lightbulbs at any price. Until the White House withdraws its objection to the Chinese dumping steel on the US market below cost, it will continue to gradually get darker in this country. Meanwhile, if you just have to shed some light in your living room, bidding for old 75-watt incandescent bulbs on E-Bay starts at $2 a watt and goes up from there."

Mark1971's picture

are we different?

Well...let's say every country adopts this mentality. Without exports, we collapse; now that's a national security threat.

Somebody's picture

On the other side...

Orchestrating an appeal to a CEO in the Netherlands to save US jobs seems a little like Chinese workers appealing to a US CEO not to shut their plant and move it to Indonesia. To Mr. Kleisterlee, the Sparta plant alredy is outsourced.

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