Thursday, March 8, 2007

A North American Labor Assembly on Climate Crisis: Building a Global Movement for Clean Energy

Union leaders and activists from around the world will be convening a conference--- A North American Labor Assembly on Climate Crisis: Building a Global Movement for Clean Energy

Click on the underlined title to check it out.

I hope our proposal to save the St. Paul Ford Assembly Plant will be discussed at this conference.

Appeal To Minnesotans For Public Ownership Of The Ford Plant


Alan Maki Of Save Our Bog


Christine Frank Of The Climate Crisis Coalition Of The Twin Cities

Christine Frank (on right) with Minnesota State Legislator Bill Hilty and wife Laurie

[Aerial view of St. Paul, Minnesota Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant]


As we are all too painfully aware, Ford’s Twin Cities Assembly Plant is slated to close in 2008. The economic and environmental consequences affect everyone in the state, and for that reason, a concerted effort should be made to keep it open. Yet, city, county and state officials are throwing up their hands and helplessly accepting the situation as a fait accompli. It was the promise of cheap hydroelectric power that prompted Henry Ford to build an automotive assembly plant in St. Paul. The initial dam on the Mississippi River was completed in 1917 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the plant went up in 1924 and a major upgrade was finished on the dam in 1929 for the benefit of the automaker. The St. Paul facility is the oldest Ford plant in operation, and to this day, is still run by renewable hydropower, which is to the benefit of the surrounding community and the natural environment. The onsite availability of high-quality sandstone, making it possible to produce windshield and lamp glass, was another feature that attracted Ford to the area.

The plant first made Model As & Ts. Later, with the advent of World War II, the U.S. witnessed one of the greatest crash militarization programs ever undertaken, and Ford wasted no time in retooling for military production. The plant in St. Paul made T17 armored cars used by the British army and U.S. military police and M8 howitzers, which were light tanks. Local autoworkers also did precision machining on pistons, cam supports and pump gears for Pratt & Whitney aircraft engines. This enabled war profiteer Henry Ford to make money hand over fist. Being blatantly anti-Semitic and pro-fascist, he produced equipment for both the U.S. Army and the German Wehrmacht in his American & European facilities. The main lesson here is that in its 82 years of operation, the local Ford plant has been retooled many times, producing over 20 different model vehicles for peace- and wartime purposes. There is no reason why this cannot be done again for the good of the community.


In the face of increased competition from foreign automakers and in the interests of the bottom line, Ford’s president and board of directors have made a conscious decision to divest capital in areas they deem unprofitable and reinvest elsewhere. This is at the cost of 30,000 jobs nationwide. The St. Paul factory is one of the strongest components of what remains of Minnesota’s industrial base.

Its 1,885 hourly & salaried employees, who have given many years of loyal service, along with their families need the jobs, benefits and pensions that have been promised to them. The wages they earn are a vital part of the economy. If the plant closes and they do not have the opportunity to transfer to another Ford facility, they will lose everything. Plus, future generations will never have the chance to work at these good-paying, productive jobs because they will be gone forever. Turning the land over to the highest bidder for development is not the answer either because that will only make a wealthy few richer in the long run. These jobs must be saved to prevent the members of UAW 879 from being thrown onto the scrap heap.


With global warming and climate change threatening Earth with ecological disaster, we must take measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in every aspect of our lives. This includes transport. We can no longer afford to get from Point A to B in private automobiles. The vast quantities of materials used and waste stream generated are taxing the planet’s finite resources beyond sustainable limits. With only ten years left to put things right, producing hybrids at this point is not enough. In fact, it is a case of too little, too late. If the automakers had begun manufacturing them in the early ‘70s when carbon dioxide concentrations really spiked, then we might have something to show for it now, but that is not the case.

The use of E85s powered by ethanol are problematic as well. Ethanol is a hydrocarbon whose production wastes grains needed for food and creates air pollutants and whose burning adds to CO2 concentrations. Therefore, we must convert immediately to clean mass transit systems powered by renewable energy. Given its past history, St. Paul’s Ford Plant could easily be retooled for the production of electric train engines and carriages that are driven by green wind & solar power. Just imagine convenient and efficient rail systems criss-crossing the entire country carrying passengers and freight and what an aid that would be to Earth’s ecosystems.



The auto-makers and other Carbon Barons are largely to blame for the dilemma we are in. It was they who destroyed the electric street car systems in the early 20th century in order to build more roads, sell more automobiles and burn more fossil fuels. This proves that they do not run their operations with the welfare of the planet or the rest of us in mind. If Ford’s management and stockholders are unwilling to keep the plant open for either clean or dirty transport, then let’s put it under public ownership. It is not unheard of. The Manitoba provincial government took over the Ford tractor factory in Winnipeg in order to prevent its closing. Let’s go them one better by using a green-powered plant to produce environmentally-friendly mass transit for the health of the planet and us human beings. Being some of the most progressive and ecologically-minded union members in the state, the leaders and ranks of UAW 879 would no doubt be proud to work in such a plant and support this campaign.


We should keep in mind that Ford Motor Company has made billions from war profiteering, government bailouts and subsidies and tax breaks. Being granted its own hydroelectric power is a perfect example of the free ride Ford has gotten. That dam, for all practical purposes, belongs to the community and generates 5 mWh of excess electricity that is sold to Xcel for $4 million a year so, in a sense, the operation already helps pay for itself. In order to make money available to purchase the factory, we can end state-funded corporate boondoggles and development schemes that benefit only the rich, demand that less money be spent for war and more for jobs & the environment, tax corporate polluters and halt waste on every level by reducing, reusing and recycling at the point of production.

In fact, there are many creative ways the project could be funded that are financially sound and ecological—including increasing the taconite tax since keeping the St. Paul Ford plant operating will save mining jobs on the Iron Range too.

It is merely a matter of redirecting our priorities and asserting our societal will. So let’s join together to achieve a worthy goal--retool the Ford plant to produce green mass transit and not only save Minnesota jobs but ultimately Earth!





A joint venture with the Chinese government should be explored in order to keep the plant open. Joint ventures like this one in Eveleth, Minnesota with the Chinese have been very successful in keeping mine open and saving jobs:


Union members discuss how to save the planet

Author: Barbara Kucera

People's Weekly World Newspaper, 02/01/07

ST. PAUL, Minnesota. (PAI) — Saying the future of the planet is at stake, union members and their allies gathered at a Labor and Sustainability Conference here Jan. 19-20 to discuss strategies to address the climate crisis and promote healthy development.

Organizers of the conference included members of United Auto Workers Local 879, who will soon lose their jobs when Ford Motor Co. shuts down its Ranger truck plant in St. Paul. The plant is run on hydroelectric power from the Mississippi River. It’s one of the few green manufacturing facilities in the nation.

Conference events were held in the training center adjacent to the plant and at the Local 879 hall across the street.

The Minnesota conference is just the latest development in what has become a stronger alliance between organized labor and environmental groups in the last decade, where unions push job creation in environmentally friendly ways.

Led by the Steelworkers, unions are pushing a 10-year, $300 billion plan to invest in new U.S. plants to create environmentally friendly products, such as hybrid cars and solar panels. The Apollo Alliance would also bring new high-paying factory jobs to areas of the U.S. hard hit by the loss of 3 million manufacturing jobs — half of them unionized — since 1999. Minnesota workshop topics included proposals for future green manufacturing at the Ford plant, the campaign for zero greenhouse gas emissions, conversion to wind power, effects of climate change on the region and confronting corporate globalization.

The theme of the conference was “a just transition from our present fossil-fuel economy to one that is based on clean, renewable energy,” said Local 879 Health and Safety Director Lynn Hinkle. “This rests on the notion that we can have both a healthy environment and good-paying union jobs in a green economy.”

Author Jack Rasmus, a former union organizer who has done extensive research on global warming, outlined the scope of the crisis in his keynote address. The frozen Arctic Ocean could be completely melted by 2040, and scientists say Greenland is melting twice as fast as previously predicted, Rasmus said. Massive ice melts will cause major climate changes and create a cycle of heavy rainfall in some areas and drought in others.

As sea levels rise, it’s estimated 300 million people will become refugees as coastal cities are submerged around the world. Many species of animals and plants also are threatened by the climate changes.

In addition to the human and environmental cost, global warming would have huge economic cost — as much as 20 percent of the world’s total economic production, or nearly $10 trillion, Rasmus said. That’s more than the economic cost of World Wars I and II and the Great Depression combined, he explained.

While the projections are bleak, the good news is that many people are waking up and starting to act, he added. “The reality is so overwhelming now that the tide has turned” and “there’s a new political phase opening up” in Congress and at state and local levels, Rasmus said.

Unfortunately, proposals in the past GOP-run Congress focused almost entirely on creating incentives for businesses to cut emissions, such as the “cap and trade” approach that lets companies sell environmental “credits” if their production falls below carbon dioxide emission limits, he added. The Bush administration’s Environmental Protection Agency also favors “cap and trade” plans. That practice, now used in Europe, has done little to reduce emissions because the limits are not stringent enough, Rasmus said.

Barbara Kucera writes for Workday Minnesota.


Note: The "Labor and Sustainability Conference" was endorsed by the following:


Douglas County Supervisor Adam Ritscher

4th & 5th CDs Green Party


Labor Education Service


Mayday Books, Mpls.




MNs For Peace & Social Justice

Prof. Peter Rachleff

Red Lake Casino, Hotel & Restaurant Employees’ Union Org. Cmte.

Save Our Bog

St. Paul Area Trades & Labor Assembly

State Rep. Frank Hornstein


UAW 879

UFCW 789

UTU 650




Ford workers call for ‘green’ jobs

Author: Barbara Kucera

People's Weekly World Newspaper, 03/01/07

ST. PAUL, Minnesota. (PAI) — Minnesota’s United Auto Workers are taking their fight to save jobs at the St. Paul Ford plant to the state Capitol, where proposed legislation would require the company to maintain the facility so it could be used for other manufacturing.

State Sen. Richard Cohen (D), who represents the Highland Park neighborhood where the plant is located, introduced legislation in early February to help deal with the looming closure. He said state Rep. Carlos Mariani (D-St. Paul) is introducing a companion bill in the state House.

The legislation requires Ford Motor Co. to “maintain the plant and related facilities in a saleable condition for at least five years” after operations end. Ford has said it will cease production of Ranger pickup trucks in 2008. Already, one shift has been shut down and nearly half of the approximately 2,000 employees have been laid off.

The looming end of the St. Paul plant is part of Ford’s multibillion-dollar downsizing, which includes other closings nationwide and the decision by at least 30,000 UAW members to take buyouts or early retirement packages.

Plant runs on hydroelectric

But the legislative response is not typical. In other such cases, both in the auto industry and other industries, local officials have tried to keep plants open while manufacturing the same products. That wouldn’t necessarily be the case with the St. Paul Ford plant.

Ford has spurned attempts by UAW Local 879 and local officials to discuss alternative uses of the plant. The facility is unique because it draws its power totally from a hydroelectric plant on the nearby Mississippi River.

‘Shabby treatment’ of workers
Cohen said his legislation was born out of a sense of frustration.
“The UAW members who work at this plant have been treated quite shabbily by the company,” he said. “Whatever respect I’ve had for this company has been lost as this process unfolds.”

Cohen’s bill is similar to one adopted in 2001 when LTV mining closed its Iron Range mining operation in far northern Minnesota.

Keeping the Ford plant “in saleable condition” would require a skeleton crew of workers to operate the hydroelectric plant and a boiler and maintain the exterior of the facility, said Bob Killeen, Local 879 financial secretary. News reports say Ford is in talks to sell the hydroelectric plant. Cohen said he expects legislative action on his proposal within two months, even though hearings have not been set yet.

Local 879 Health and Safety Director Lynn Hinkle has spearheaded the union’s attempt to find other manufacturers that could take over the Ford plant.

Hinkle said the process of forcing Ford to sell the plant to a manufacturer — as opposed to tearing it down and selling the land to developers — will be difficult. But “there are incredible opportunities,” he added. Use of the plant to produce, for example, wind turbines would provide a huge spur to “green” manufacturing throughout the state, he added.

Ecologically friendly manufacturing

Conversion of older closed factories to newer ecologically friendly manufacturing is one plank in the Apollo Alliance energy independence program pushed by the Steelworkers. For example, a historic former steel plant near Pittsburgh now makes turbines for a Spanish-owned windmill firm — and its workers are USW members.

Noted Killeen, “We are committed to maintaining good manufacturing jobs in the city of St. Paul.”

Barb Kucera writes for Workday Minnesota.


Union Members & Environmental Activist Discuss Climate Crisis

by David Jones / February 2007

ST. PAUL, Minn.—A two-day conference here hosted by United Auto Workers Local 879 brought some 200 union members and environmental activists together for a pioneering discussion on the mounting global climate crisis from a working-class perspective.

The Jan. 19-20 Labor and Sustainability Conference began with a keynote session that filled Local 879’s meeting hall, located across from Ford Motor Co.’s Twin Cities Assembly Plant, where the local’s nearly 2000 members work. The meeting was chaired by Phyllis Walker, president of AFSCME Local 3800. Walker is a native of New Orleans, where her mother and sister still live, and has spoken publicly on the catastrophic results of Hurricane Katrina.

Keynote speakers Jack Rasmus, a former union organizer who has done extensive research on global warming, and Bill Onasch, a veteran union leader in both the Minneapolis/St. Paul and Kansas City areas, addressed the heating up of the planet, driven by increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide. Charles Griffith and Claudette Juska from the Auto Project of the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., also spoke.

The amount of CO2 has doubled in the last 200 years, with most of the growth occurring in recent decades, Rasmus said.

The frozen Artic Ocean could melt completely by 2040, and scientists say Greenland is melting twice as fast as previously predicted. Massive ice melts will cause major climate changes and create a cycle of heavy rainfall in some areas, drought in others.

Saturday’s 10 workshops covered a wide range of topics, including sustainable agriculture, wind power, sustainability in union contracts, the campaign for zero greenhouse gas emissions, and technology conversion for “Green Operation.”

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005 President Michelle Sommers spoke on “The Need to Expand Clean Mass Transit,” suggesting conversion of the soon-to-be closed Ford plant to the production of hybrid-fuel buses.

Other workshop speakers with union affiliations included Phil Qualy, director of the United Transportation Union’s Minnesota Legislative Board, Dennis Levendowski from Millwrights Local 548—who reported on the increasing employment opportunities for of building trades workers in construction of wind power generators—Jon Malek, vice-president of United Steel Workers Local 1938 on the Minnesota Iron Range, and Bernie Hesse, Special Projects Organizer for UFCW 789.

Christine Frank, IATSE Local 12, a co-convenor of the conference and writer on environmental issues, spoke on the mounting global climate crisis.

Lynn Hinkle, Health and Safety Director for UAW 879, and a conference co-convenor, welcomed conference participants to the union’s meeting hall and training center, where workshop sessions were held.

The Twin Cities Assembly Plant, which Ford has announced will close permanently in 2008, is justly celebrated for its total reliance on energy from its hydro-electric dam located adjacent to the factory on the Mississippi River. The dam and power station were essentially a gift from the state when Henry Ford began assembly operations at the newly constructed site in 1923.

Ford’s recent decision to close 15 plants, including this state-of-the-art production facility, one of only a few in the industrial world that operate with their own hydro-electric station, has prompted proposals for saving the plant for conversion to green production of environmentally friendly products such as wind-generating turbines and hybrid vehicles.

Christine Frank and environmental activist Alan Maki have authored a widely-circulated proposal for public ownership and operation of the plant in green production. A workshop entitled “Saving the Ford Plant Through Green Manufacturing,” led by Hinkle, addressed the campaign for alternatives.

Increasing awareness of and activity around the global-warming crisis combined with Ford’s abrupt decision to shut the plant and eliminate some 2000 jobs led to the convergence of environmental and union concerns that prompted the conference. In what is apparently one of the first, if not the only, union-initiated convocations to seek to address these matters jointly with a broad range of environmental activists, the conference organizers sought the widest possible participation of the rank and file of both movements.

“Workers have a fundamental human right,” the organizers said, “to remain in their historic communities with a guarantee of no loss of good-paying, union-protected employment. In order to avoid having solutions imposed by others with no sense of obligation to the communities that they impact, labor must develop its own program and solutions than can equitably balance justice for workers with the need to preserve our natural heritage.”

The conference was endorsed by Minnesota State Federation of Labor, the Minneapolis and St Paul central labor councils, and other labor and environmental groups. Buoyed by the positive response to the conference, a continuations committee is in formation to pursue further education and action. More information is available at the conference website:


Labor & Environmental Movements Are Natural Allies

by Bill Onasch / February 2007

The following is the text of prepared remarks to the Labor and Sustainability Conference, held in St Paul, Jan. 19-20. Due to time constraints, the actual oral presentation was somewhat shorter.

Bill Onasch is a retired bus driver, a former vice president of ATU Local 1287 in Kansas City. He represents Midwest Chapters on the Labor Party Interim National Council.

One aspect of the environmental crisis that probably does not get sufficient attention is what became known as urban sprawl.

My hometown of Kansas City is the perfect poster child for this blight. The official metropolitan area encompasses seven counties in two states. The population is a little under two million. We have the most freeway lane miles per capita of any major city in the world.

But business development promoters have expanded this metro definition even further to take in no less than 17 counties, extending as far west as Topeka, Kan., and as far north as St Joseph, Mo. This area is about 150 miles east to west and 100 miles north to south, about the size of Belgium.

While we are among the most extreme examples, we are hardly unique. Most major cities—including the Twin Cities—have gone through a similar process. While the growth of this sprawl has been largely unregulated, it is not unplanned. It is the consequence of conscious decisions made after World War II by those who rule America.

The country was just emerging from more than 15 years of uninterrupted depression or war. There was already a big housing shortage and tremendous pent-up consumer demand when the baby boomers started arriving on the scene in big numbers.

Instead of renovating the somewhat shabby urban cores, as was done in Europe at the time, developers decided to take advantage of relatively cheap land prices to build brand new suburbs. Government-guaranteed VA and FHA loans lured much of the white working class out of the bustling urban cores into brand new single-family houses, where the birds sing and the flowers bloom.

Now what’s wrong with that? It turns out plenty was wrong. That cheap land surrounding the cities used to be where our milk and eggs came from every day, along with much of our fresh fruit and vegetables in season.

Locally produced food has become a boutique industry today. Most items in our grocery stores were transported hundreds, even thousands of miles.

In addition to removing acreage from productive farming, in many cases wetlands were destroyed, leading to a host of new, sometimes deadly problems, such as those described by the Chair [Phyllis Walker, president of AFSCME Local 3800] in the Katrina storm surge in New Orleans.

In many cities, Kansas City included, part of the sales pitch for the new developments was racially motivated. Bank red-lining, and sometimes covenants attached to home deeds, insured that most of the new suburbs were white. Conversely, what remained of the urban core was largely Black.

Most inner cities faced a declining tax base, leading to deterioration of basic services. The Kansas City School District has lost its accreditation.

The fall-out from sprawl has had enormous social and economic, as well as environmental, consequences. Abandoning the established urban infrastructure meant a whole new one had to be created, spanning vast areas with new water, sewer, electrical, telephone, and gas lines.

While the old cities were usually well served by mass transit, a vast new road network had to be built—at taxpayer expense—to access the new housing. No transit service to speak of was expanded to these areas.

It was that factor, not some “American love affair with the car,” that made us car-dependent. Once you were out in the new suburbs, if you didn’t have a car you were marooned.

Most people started spending a good chunk of their lives commuting to work in their cars. Lacking the corner stores that were so abundant in the cities, they became accustomed to driving to the nearest filling station or strip mall just to buy a quart of milk.

There is no group of workers more in touch with the problems of urban sprawl than transit workers. We see all sides of it through the passengers we carry, to the traffic we drive in, to the fight for public funding.

Kansas City has a proud transit heritage. We had the first electric-powered streetcar. We once had an extensive network of streetcar lines, which included many miles of exclusive right of ways. In the 1930s this was supplemented with electric trolley-bus lines.

At its peak, during World War II, the system carried nearly 400,000 passengers a day in a city that at the time had a population of only 400,000. Such a system would cost many billions to replicate today.

Then KC not only got hit by the general trend of postwar sprawl. We were also one of a number of cities targeted by General Motors, who covertly acquired transit systems in order to destroy them. The streetcar and trolley-bus lines were eliminated. They paved over tracks and sold the overhead wires for scrap.

They did this on an even grander scale in Los Angeles. Different forces brought a similar outcome to the Twin Cities and, ultimately, nearly every major city.

In 1969 Congress passed the Urban Mass Transit Act. With the help of federal funding, the failed private transit companies were reorganized into quasi-public bodies. While this saved mass transit from extinction, it recast its role. Instead of a vital, commonly used public service in need of expansion, it was designed to primarily provide bare-bones transportation to those unfortunates without access to a car.

Diverting transportation funds from highways to transit was always like pulling teeth. What funding that was available was usually for big-ticket capital projects—such as building subways or light-rail systems where there was money to be made by construction contractors—while operating funds needed to provide day-to-day service shrank.

In 1992, in response to lost operating-fund assistance, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority initiated a downsizing strategy that included, for the first time in many years, lay-offs of bus drivers. Some of us approached our local union president and sold him on the idea that we should organize a public fight against the cuts in service.

A Community Outreach Committee was launched that enlisted support from community, student, and environmental groups. Our committee submitted a petition with 8000 signatures protesting the cuts to the Kansas City, Mo., city council, who passed a resolution of support.

In Kansas City, Kan., we bused angry transit users to city council meetings whenever there was any talk of further cuts, and their sometimes rowdy interventions kept the status quo in place for several years. We held rallies and organized community meetings. We published a position paper putting transit in the sprawl crisis context.

We did win some short-term reprieves of service, and put transit on the agenda for discussion. But we didn’t have the political clout to do much more.

Then we heard about an initiative by a most remarkable union leader, the late Tony Mazzocchi of the Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers Union. He had convinced his union to sponsor Labor Party Advocates. We thought a Labor Party sounded like a good idea in general, and we were particularly attracted to the environmental stance LPA was staking out.

ATU Local 1287 became an early endorser of LPA, and activists in our Community Outreach Committee took the initiative in setting up a Kansas City LPA chapter, as well as a Labor Party Transit Club in our local union.

Mazzocchi was generally credited with being the principal leader of the successful drive to get OSHA passed in 1970. He worked with Karen Silkwood, whose life and death as a Kerr-McGee nuclear fuel plant worker was made famous by Meryl Streep’s film portrayal.

Tony also had a long history of collaboration with the broader environmental movement, working closely with figures such as Ralph Nader and Barry Commoner.

Tony had confidence in the working class. He believed that, told the truth and given reasonable options, we generally do the right thing. That’s what encouraged him to take environmental issues to the membership of a union whose bosses were among the top polluters.

It was within the old OCAW, now part of the Steelworkers, that the concept of Just Transition, incorporated from the beginning in the Labor Party program, was initially formulated. Just Transition rejects the counterposition of jobs versus the environment. We want, and believe we can have, good jobs while repairing and reversing the environmental destruction caused by corporate polluters.

Certainly some union jobs—including UAW jobs—would face elimination as we reorganize economic activity to tackle the enormous environmental crisis—above all global warming. The Labor Party approach to Just Transition is to provide retraining to all such displaced workers and to assist them with incomes and benefits to maintain middle-class living standards until they are placed in new suitable work. Nobody will be left behind.

This program would be largely paid for by a tax on corporate polluters—similar to the Super Fund tax used to clean up environmental messes created by irresponsible industries.

Some will say this Just Transition is socialistic pie-in-the-sky that can never be realized. We’d better rally around our employers to save our jobs. Well, let’s look at just one example from history concerning UAW members.

In 1942 all auto production in the USA came to an abrupt and total halt, not to be resumed for nearly four years. Did this lead to disaster for UAW members? Quite the contrary. The numbers in the plants swelled considerably, and there was more overtime available than even the greediest could work.

Those plants were put under government control, and virtually all capital and operating expenses were guaranteed by the federal government. It was a triumph of industrial mobilization.

Of course, in this example, the product was planes, tanks, and jeeps for the war effort. We don’t need such things today. But can’t such plants, along with their workers, be converted to serve a new green economy?

As a matter of fact, one proposal for using the plant across the street being abandoned by Ford is to build clean mass transit vehicles—and we need a lot of those if we are serious about global warming.

The labor movement needs to recognize that environmentalists are not our enemy. Our adversaries are the employers who care nothing about either the environment or our jobs.

The union movement and the environmental movement are in fact a natural fit as allies.

We need to unite to educate, agitate, and organize in our workplaces, campuses, and communities. This conference is a good step in that direction.

Ford announces that it intends to demolish the Plant and sell the property...

... workers, the community, and some local and state public officials have other plans in mind for the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant.


Ford site could be the launching pad for green manufacturing in Minnesota


Making the most of the Ford site won't happen with business- or labor- or governance-as-usual. And, as we rebuild our economy in sync with our environment, it's worth noting that some local union folks began working on that years ago - at the Ford plant.

Without fanfare, UAW Local 879 worked for more than 10 years to creatively maximize the assets of Ford's Twin Cities Assembly Plant in St. Paul.

These efforts worked. As a result, the life of the plant with its good jobs was extended, until a year ago Ford announced plans to close the plant in 2008.

Now, those creative efforts by Local 879 should help frame the choices for the mayor's Ford Site Task Force, which has been asked to recommend a redevelopment plan.
Those choices include a range of options, from simply maintaining the Ford plant's premier green manufacturing capabilities to enabling complementary enhancements.

A big problem, however, is Ford's near-term effort to sell its electricity-generating dam on the Mississippi. Selling the dam separate from the rest of the site would narrow the Ford Site Task Force's options - from creating a range of world-class green manufacturing possibilities to overseeing brown-field infill.

Here's why this is especially troubling:

In large part because of the Ford plant's clean hydro power, a stable, vibrant, mixed-use community has grown around it in St. Paul.

But in many other U.S. communities, although it sustained families and built cities, manufacturing has lost its appeal. It has become the object of a NIMBY - "not-in-my-backyard" - groundswell.

This NIMBY attitude has given more-than-subtle support for the off-shoring of U.S. manufacturing capacity. The result has been a decline in manufacturing jobs here and in environmental quality where the facilities relocated.

Years ago, UAW Local 879 saw these forces working against manufacturing. Instead of resting on what was already one of the world's greenest manufacturing platforms, we moved to make it more sustainable. Some of St Paul and Minnesota's best manufacturing jobs were at stake. Proactively, we set out to improve the Ford plant's market position with a framework that's now understood as "sustainability."

For example:

• The local negotiated with Ford to create a one-of-its-kind work week agreement that reduced the Ford plant's carbon footprint and created new revenue from the hydro power.

• At roughly the same time, the local began a collaborative effort to add another asset to our Ford plant: an onsite training center. With resources from the state and the UAW, the center provided leading-edge robotics skills to Ford workers and Minnesota college students.

By the normal standards, the Ford plant workforce was recognized for its sustained high quality and productivity. But adding value where none had existed before was connecting dots no one else had even seen.

• In 2005, the local again took the initiative, this time to create production flexibility that helped make the most of the hydro power. Manufacturing almost anything on that site, because of its clean power, would represent an advantage in a greening economy. But the local also proposed a plan for a green product from this highly sustainable plant.

The idea was to produce green products, like flex-fuel Rangers, from our already-green plant. The idea was meant to keep manufacturing jobs in St Paul by giving Ford a stunning launch into a future being rapidly reshaped by demands for carbon reduction.

The problem was getting Ford to see how a green product from a green plant could dramatically meet and reshape an already growing sustainability market.

Unlike Ford, the state aligned with this vision. It created a Task Force on Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles. Representing a broad range of interests, that Task Force met regularly at the UAW hall to map out state deployment of plug-in hybrids and possible production of hybrids or other green products at the Ford plant.

The idea here is this: St. Paul has tremendous potential to press its manufacturing advantage in an increasingly green marketplace.

Manufacturing vehicles involving clean-fuel technology at St Paul's premier green plant would be a clear expression of the green product/green plant vision. But the opportunity for green products goes beyond the next generation of personal transportation.

The Ford plant as an integrated site is well suited for a green manufacturing park blending production of wind turbines and light-rail vehicles.

The symmetry of hydro turbines powering production of wind turbines is beautiful. It could secure generations of manufacturing jobs while helping to restore our planetary home.

Does this manufacturing use at the core of the future site preclude other complementary uses, like an expanded training/research facility? If Highland's current mixed use is any clue, it hasn't yet.

But without the hydro's clean, economical power at the core of its future use, the site becomes a limited-option brown-field - less likely to produce a manufacturing park's economic multiplier from tax-paying, solid-wage jobs.

There's much more at stake here than what winds up on that piece of property. The Ford Assembly Plant could be an inspiring model of sustainable development. It could be a launch site for a whole new manufacturing capability for Minnesota - an opportunity, for example, to meet the large, long-term demand for wind turbines that the state's new Renewable Energy Standard will require. It could include manufacturing at each point in the supply chain, all the way back to Minnesota-supplied iron ore. That is manufacturing capability no other state has yet secured.

Minnesota could become the land of 10,000 green-collar jobs.

These ideas for manufacturing aligned with a green future are natural expressions of the Ford plant's legacy of sustainability.

UAW Local 879 has been a steward of that legacy. As such, we are aligned with the Ford Site Task Force to keep good options on the table. These options range from maintaining the premier green manufacturing site to complementary mixed use. The key is to keep the Ford site linked to its source of economical and carbon-free energy.
Now is the perfect time to at least examine the role of municipal power in Sacramento or in Austin, Texas, as way to drive economic development.

Equally instructive is St Paul's own historic leadership - in the complex creation of District Heating and in recent efforts to keep manufacturing jobs at Rock-Tenn by maintaining a source of clean, economical energy.

As it has in the past, St. Paul needs to be creative - this time at the Ford site. At a minimum, it should support efforts to keep the elements of the site as an integrated whole.

It's not possible to overstate the impact of decisions about the future use of the Ford site.

And it's not possible to make the most of this opportunity with business-, labor-, or governance-as-usual.

Can we rebuild manufacturing on a green path?

Can we revitalize our economy while we get in sync with our planet?

Manufacturing jobs powered by hydro, right here in St Paul, remain an exciting part of the answer.

Lynn Hinkle, who lives in Minneapolis five minutes away from the St. Paul Ford plant, is a recently retired UAW Local 879 official. He wrote the Ford green plant proposal and is currently co-chair of the state's plug-in hybrid electric vehicle task force. His e-mail address is:


Ford takes bids for St. Paul factory's hydroelectric plant
December 13, 2006

St. Paul, Minn. — (AP) - The Ford Motor Company has begun marketing the dam and hydroelectric power plant at its manufacturing facility in St. Paul.

A company spokeswoman says the company has prequalified several potential buyers, including utility companies, government agencies and investment firms.

A buyer is expected to be picked in February. The plant, which makes Ranger pickups, is scheduled to close by June 2008.

When the hydroelectric plant was built in 1924, it cost about $1.5 million. It's been the plant's main source of electricity ever since.

Ford lost $7 billion during the first nine months of the year. Almost half of its hourly production workers nationwide have accepted buyouts.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


Excellent article


Brian McMahon has researched the history of the local Ford plant and his article titled "Minneapolis and St. Paul Stumble- Henry Ford Wins the Struggle for the High Dam" is featured in Ramsey County History's Summer edition.
Order the Magazine $8.00

Ramsey County Historical Society presents:

“Henry Ford Wins the Power Struggle for the High Dam”

An illustrated lecture by Brian McMahon
Thursday, September 27, 2007, 6:00pm
Landmark Center 's Weyerhaeuser Auditorium
75 W 5th Street, St Paul
Learn more about this event

Check out the construction photos of the hydro plant date from 1923 and 1924.
All construction photos: Brian McMahon
Images of the Ford Hydro Plants construction:

Ramsey County Historical Society
323 Landmark Center, 75 West Fifth Street, Saint Paul, Minnesota. 55102
Phone: (651) 222-0701, Fax: (651) 223-8539


A historical tour of Ford's Twin Cities Assembly Plant
Patrick Kennedy

Last update: April 13, 2006 – 9:17 AM

This article first appeared on March 1, 1999 in the Star Tribune.

The Ford Motor Co. began car assembly in Minnesota in 1912 in a downtown Minneapolis warehouse. Production later moved to a 10-story building, also in Minneapolis, where Ford Model Ts were assembled.

Construction of the current St. Paul plant began in 1923. Brian McMahon, an architectural historian and a consultant to the Minnesota Labor Interpretive Center, said that when Henry Ford saw the plans for the St. Paul plant in the early 1920s, he asked that its facade be switched from facing what is now Ford Parkway to face toward the river.

As a result, what has faced Ford Parkway for years is mainly a big asphalt parking lot.

By May 4, 1925, Model T cars and Model TT trucks were rolling off Ford's assembly line. Ford cars and trucks have continued to roll out of the Twin Cities plant ever since, interrupted by two years during the the Great Depression when production halted and three years when the plant was converted to World War II defense work.

After a series of expansions, the plant today has more than 2 million square feet and an 8.4-mile-long assembly line, which makes it about the average size among Ford's 37 U.S. plants.

Among factors that have kept the Twin Cities plant competitive are its own hydroelectric plant, which produces electrical power from the nearby dam on the Mississippi River, its high quality standards and a well-educated work force.

In 1978, the plant was converted to an all-truck assembly operation, which produced the popular line of Ford pickup trucks. Since 1992, the Twin Cities plant has produced exclusively Ford Rangers including: the Ford Ranger Regular Cab, Ranger Supercab (2- and 4-door), Ranger Splash and Ranger Flareside.

When it officially opens in April, the new training center will become an attractive main entrance to the plant for workers and visitors, complementing the facade that faces the river and helping to hide the back of the plant.


Save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant

Sisters and Brothers;

Unless we act together the Ford Plant will close soon and two thousand jobs will go down the drain and into the river with it.

It will take the initiative of community activists and rank and file activists from your plant working together to save the Ford Plant and two-thousand jobs. It will require activity on a variety of levels from a variety of partners working in coalition.

I would encourage you to ask the UAW leadership of your local (UAW Local 879) to push the MN DFL to reconsider the legislation Democratic Senator Metzen dropped the ball on after Representative Tom Rukavina successfully pushed it through his Committee in the House. It is important that this Plant and Dam remain intact as one unit.

As you know, the great “free market forces” of capitalism have not been able to keep this perfectly good plant in operation.

This leaves us but one option; the option of Public Ownership. Public Ownership has been used all over the world to save many plants and even entire industries. The New Flyer Bus Plant in Winnipeg, Manitoba is one such example.

To be quite frank, our primary concern has to be with saving these two-thousand jobs. The jobs of those presently employed and for generations to come.

No one is considering the tremendous struggle and sacrifice of Ford workers and your union in securing a good place to work as part of the investment. No one is talking about the huge investment taxpayers have made in this Plant and Hydro Dam… not to mention training employees. No one mentions that workers create all wealth and as such are entitled to participate as equals in the decision-making process. The Ford Motor Company never sat down and talked about the future of this plant with workers or tax-payers.

I ask you to take these resolutions to your party precinct caucus meetings in February. Ford workers are scattered all over, even in Wisconsin… we need to reach out for support in order to save this plant. Just clip one of these resolutions to the resolution form.

Resolution #1 (Short Version) 0n the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant/Hydro Dam and 2,000 Union Jobs

Whereas Ford Motor Company has stated its intent to close the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant, sell the hydro dam to a foreign corporation, and displace two-thousand workers in the near future without consultation from the workers, the community, or local and state governments;

Whereas this plant, its operations, and the hydro dam have received continued support from every level of government including tax-payer funding, tax-breaks and tax abatements under promises to maintain manufacturing operations and with assurances workers would have job security in St. Paul, Minnesota;

Therefore be it resolved public ownership should be used to save this plant, hydro dam, and two-thousand jobs.

Resolution #2 (Full version) 0n the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant/Hydro Dam and 2,000 Union Jobs

Whereas Ford Motor Company has stated its intent to close the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant, sell the hydro dam to a foreign corporation, and displace two-thousand workers in the near future without consultation with the workers, the community, or local and state governments;

Whereas this plant, its operations, and the hydro dam have received continued support from every level of government including tax-payer funding, tax-breaks and tax abatements under promises to maintain manufacturing operations and with assurances workers would have job security in St. Paul, Minnesota;

Whereas this Plant forms an important an integral component of Minnesota’s industrial base;

Whereas the closing of this Plant will cause very significant economic harm to the local community and the state including placing a strain on already overburdened social services which have already been drastically cut back;

Whereas all conciliatory efforts, as demanded, in favor of the management of Ford Motor Company have been granted by all levels of government under the promise Ford would maintain operations in St. Paul;

Whereas a similar threatened plant closing of the New Flyer Plant in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada during the 1970’sresulted in all levels of government intervening on behalf of the members of the United Automobile Workers union resulting in the public takeover of the operation with continuing successful operation at present;

Whereas “the free market” has not resulted in a solution to save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant, the hydro dam which powers the plant along with two-thousand union jobs; (over please)

Be it resolved that the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party instruct its State Legislative Caucus to bring forward the previous resolution in the form of legislation supported by the United Auto Workers Union and its members of Local 789 to save the plant and dam intact until a solution is found to continue operations and production;

Be it further resolved that the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party instructs all of its federal, state, and local Twin Cities elected officials to convene a special conference to explore public ownership as the remedy to saving the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant, the hydro dam, and two thousand union jobs;

Be it further resolved that the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party support public ownership and democratic control of the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant with production taking place in the best interests of the workers and the people of the State of Minnesota;

Be it further resolved that public ownership is the only viable means of saving the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant as all other means have been tried and exhausted;

Be it further resolved that funding is not an issue since any country which can squander billions of dollars on the occupation of Iraq can find the resources for saving this Plant, dam, and jobs;

Be it further resolved that the very significant burden of health care costs for employees be resolved through the State of Minnesota enacting legislation implementing single-payer, universal health care.

Alan L. Maki
Member, Minnesota DFL State Central Committee


Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council

If you have friends working in casinos please have them get in touch with me.

Twenty-thousand Minnesotans go to work in smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages without any rights under tribal, state or federal labor laws.

58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763
Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell phone: 651-587-5541

Check out my blog; it’s where rank and file activists go for information:

Thoughts From Podunk:

Suggestions for how to use these resolutions:

• Take it to your precinct caucus meeting

• Get your union or community organization to support this resolution

• Write a letter to your state legislators supporting this resolution

• Copy and distribute this resolution widely

• Use this resolution as a petition, ask your friends to sign it

• Write a letter to the editor

• Blog this issue

• Post the resolution on web sites

• Discuss this resolution on Internet “list serves”


This leaflet made as a contribution in kind by the:
Iron Range Rank and File Labor Network… concerned and involved members of USW Locals 1938, 2705, 6860, 2660

All labor and materials for this leaflet have been contributed in solidarity with workers of the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant… On the Iron Range we understand the future of our jobs hinge on the future of your jobs. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Alan Maki for taking up this struggle in his capacity as a member of the MN DFL State Central Committee. Without these kinds of community grassroots and rank and file outreach efforts we are all doomed as recent contract “negotiations” in our industries have demonstrated.

Please consider making a contribution to help us put this issue on the front burner where it belongs.

Out of sight… is out of mind.


Wednesday 28th November 2007 11:07 AM

UAW awaits response to 'green' vehicle proposal

1 February 2006 ST. PAUL - United Auto Workers Local 879 awaits a response from Ford Motor Company to its proposal to make the St. Paul manufacturing plant a leader in producing more fuel-efficient, "green" vehicles. View the entire text of the proposal.

The union submitted the proposal two weeks ago, shortly before the automaker announced the first stages of a restructuring plan involving several facility shutdowns and the layoffs of some 30,000 workers. The St. Paul plant was not among those identified to be closed, but its future remains uncertain. For that reason, the union is promoting a "sustainable re-industrialization model" that would put the plant on the forefront of new, clean technologies.

"We think that this is the place to be making an E85 vehicle, a biodiesel vehicle or a hybrid vehicle," said Local 879 President Rob McKenzie.

Production of a "green" vehicle would require an investment of $500 to $750 million and 18 to 24 months to retool the plant, he said.

The proposal outlines several reasons that Ford should locate such a facility in St. Paul, including Minnesota's commitment to the environment, the plant's quality workforce and its unique access to clean, hydroelectric power.

Green Plant, Green Corporation, Green State- Just Add Green Products
Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant- Sustainable Re-Industrialization Model

From a carbon management viewpoint, Ford's Ranger Plant in St. Paul is already well aligned with Ford's green strategy as well as Minnesota's environmental leadership. With the addition of a new line of greener vehicles to assemble, Twin Cities Assembly Plant (TCAP) could become both Ford's and Minnesota's contribution to a global model of sustainable re-industrialization.

Ford Motor Company?s ?Business Impact of Climate Change? released December 2005 represents a clear shift by a global manufacturer to embrace the centrality of carbon management. Ford?s report reflects fossil fuel?s role in creating a suite of related issues that are already shaping our decisions at a personal, corporate, and global geo-political level. Climate change, air and water quality, energy dependence and security have fast become the central determinants facing society at every level on a global scale. Ford CEO, Bill Ford, made Ford?s shift to carbon management clear in his six-point plan for US re-industrialization based solely on sustainability in his November address to the National Press Club. While Ford Motor Company will strengthen its carbon management leadership by setting more detailed improvement metrics; its core placement of this set of issues is critically important. Ford's soon to be announced re-structuring will likely embody reshaping the corporation's growth on an energy sustainable platform.

Realignment by Ford to launch new products and retool plants, prioritize financial resources, and close plants must be linked to achieving significant staged reductions to its carbon footprint in the auto industry. Its just good business, even in the short term, to opt for plants, processes and products that reduce carbon. More capital will flow from less carbon. To this end, Ford Motor Company has already invested heavily in hydrogen technology, clean power, and bio-based parts and fuels (ethanol and bio-diesel) even before the US market began shifting dollars to sustainability.

Investing in sustainable manufacturing is part of Ford?s legacy; Ford built the hydroelectric facility at Lock and Dam #1 on the Mississippi River in 1924 to support manufacturing automobiles at Twin Cities Assembly Plant (TCAP). Since then the hydro has produced enough clean energy to power TCAP and create significant revenue from the unused portion. 101,000,000 KWH of electricity is produced yearly from TCAP?s hydro maximum rated at 18 MWH. The same amount of energy from coal fire generators forever depletes 50,510 tons of coal while emitting 196 million pounds of greenhouse gas CO2. Instead, four turbines convert flowing river into the clean power that enables a heavy manufacturing operation to sit in the middle of a National Parks Corridor. Though truly remarkable, its just part of TCAP?s potential to further reduce the manufacturing carbon footprint.

There are many elements in the manufacturing carbon footprint. In the auto industry this carbon footprint, often referred to as "Wells to Wheels", is comprised of two key components: plants and products. The greening of plants' power generation is so daunting that sustainable manufacturing is seen as one or the other, not both. There is only one other auto manufacturing facility in the WORLD powered exclusively by non-carbon energy-Ford's UK Dagenham diesel engine plant. Two points are worth noting here. First green products at TCAP would create a powerful global model-green plant ?green products at a one-plant site. But even more TCAP produces enough additional clean energy to power a Dagenham sized engine or stamping plant and a small parts plant on or near TCAP that would blend equally well into the system of parks and residential communities that distinguish St. Paul and Minneapolis as truly livable urban centers. Second, wouldn't a sizeable and growing percent of the US market see the value of new green products from a plant still growing its 80 year green legacy? A story of legacy and innovation.

Driving innovation into practice, Twin Cities Ford is recognized for its lean flexible workforce utilization. Ford and the UAW local union have crafted a one of its kind contract incorporating two important features. The innovative contract puts 40 hours of production into just four days and a flexible production process helps insure production flow and full plant utilization. The unique 4-day work schedule has a major impact on TCAP's energy use. First, it allows a full day of previously used clean energy to be put back into the grid and second, this further reduces TCAP?s process emission already maintained at 50% of the MPCA?s permitted level enabling both overall capacity and daily production flexibility. Not to mention, from an eco-driving standpoint, 2,000 employees save fuel from a round trip commute to work. Just as a hybrid engine represents combined very clean burn and efficiency, TCAP brings efficiency and clean power together at a manufacturing operations level. And just as the hybrids create a quality environment so too has TCAP's unique flexible, negotiated assembly process. JD Power quality ratings rank Ranger the #1 small pick-up ahead of Toyota and Honda, TCAP the #1 Ford assembly plant and #8 assembly plant in all North and South America among ALL auto makers.

Developing green products to build on TCAP's hybrid operations platform is practicable for Ford and Minnesota. The potential products picture involves several elements beginning with the use of engines Ford is already producing that are fuel-efficient, clean advanced gas and diesel engines, both capable of using bio-fuels. In the short term, TCAP could return to building flex-fuel 3.0L Rangers given the competitive price of E85 or mid term, develop capabilities to build with the new 6 cylinder gas engines (3.5L or 4.0L) that are fuel efficient, meet strict emission standards and are flex fueled (E85, ethanol-gas). Ford also has an advanced clean diesel 2.5L 4-cylinder engine (From Ford's wind powered UK plant) built into Rangers for virtually every market worldwide except the US or a similar clean 2.0L diesel that could be built into an updated Bronco that is still on the table for pro- duction. Both clean diesels are bio-diesel adaptable, appealing to a pick-up niche further boosted by mandated low-sulfur diesel at comparatively improved cost.

Building the crew cab Ranger or Ford?s new Sport Trak at TCAP could be accomplished reasonably by complementing the flex weld tooling already building durable Mazda and Ranger pick-up models. Perhaps bio-parts, already production capable, would add further flexibility and value to new green products at TCAP. Could Ford pull all the pieces together for a green products line keyed to flex fuel and clean diesel retaining the Ranger's smaller vehicle character in 1 and ? to 2 years? If it can, Ford will have created a path forward for sustainable manufacturing by connecting to a significant and growing portion of the US market able to see in the green?green label at least much better fuel efficiency or even the reason to buy a TCAP Ford over any other product. Minnesota?s timely align- ment would clearly impact the creation of this green plant?green product global model.

Many sectors of Minnesota's economy would benefit if the state can facilitate further greening of TC Ford. Already a national force in renewable fuel, Minnesota is arguably the national leader in the research, production and distribution of bio-fuels due largely to the links already built between Minnesota?s universities, the state and the private sector. Researchers at Minnesota universities have partnered with the state and private sector, for example, to speed the use of renewable fuels in hydrogen technology. Collaboration between Minnesota and Ford with an established and growing investment in all these areas would benefit both. The possibilities are numerous and exciting and would truly grow an existing Minnesota/Ford partnership that built and currently runs an on site re-training facility for both the community and Ford employees.

As for the future of renewable fuels, Ford has already launched a program to grow the renewable fuels infrastructure. In the current dialogue already initiated by the state, perhaps Ford can agree to a targeted Minnesota program while the state agrees to incentives for green jobs creating flex-fuel and bio-diesel products at TCAP. Collaboration with Ford may also involve Minnesota's move to incentivise bio-fuels and products using them and measures that move the fossil fuel market to reflect its true carbon cost to our economy. A state developed compliance framework for both renewable energy certificates and emissions trading would also accelerate development of renewable energy generation like wind, solar and biomass and growth of even more green manufacturing jobs.

Fostering such a state/corporate collaboration with carbon management at its core would be unique in the US. Somewhat to our North, however, the Canadian province of Ontario has over the last couple of years pursued an industrial policy linking sizeable retooling incentives to Ford and other manufacturer's investments in sustainable processes and products. In this regard, Ontario has benefited greatly by the fact that Canada's universal health coverage creates a 6% cost advantage over US manufacturing. Countries like the UK and Japan have for many years keyed their industrial incentive policies to significant carbon reduction. Whether its Bill Ford's 6-point program or a similar program proposed in the Apollo Energy Act (Rep. Inslee) supported by the UAW, the track for re-industrializing America away from catastrophic climate change and oil dependence is clear. Seminal research by the the University of Michigan showing the cost effectiveness of sustainable re-industrialization supports both programs as well as recent US legislation introduced by Sen. Obama. A TCAP green model fits both state and national emerging energy agendas.

It's time. The alignments are there. Green plant, green state partnered with a green corporation. Add green products to Twin Cities Assembly Plant, and the resulting synergy will create a much-needed model for sustainable US manufacturing.

Responses Invited:

Jim Eagle, Building Chairman, UAW Local 879 and Bargaining Committee; Rob McKenzie, President; or preparer Lynn Hinkle, Health and Safety

My response: When is the issue of public ownership of this plant going to be addressed by the leadership and members of UAW Local 879... time is running out. Alan Maki


Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party Precinct Caucus Resolutions Approved; What tax-payers finance, tax-payers should own

Participants in the February 5, 2008 Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party Precinct Caucuses passed the following resolutions:

Resolution in Support of Senate File 607

Whereas Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party State Senator Richard Cohen has authored, together with his DFL Senate colleagues--- Senate File SF 607---legislation which would keep the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and the hydro dam which powers the manufacturing operation for free, together as an industrial unit for at least two years after Ford ceases production until a plan can be devised for its continued operation;

Whereas DFL State Representative Tom Rukavina successfully steered companion legislation to SF 607 through a House Committee with bipartisan support;

Therefore, be it resolved, the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party supports the efforts of MN DFL State Senators James Metzen and David Tomassoni to have SF 607 reconsidered in the Senate Committee on Business, Industry and Jobs;

And, be it further resolved, the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party uses its majority status in both the Senate and the House to bring forward legislation as provided for in SF 607 aimed at saving two-thousand jobs by keeping the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and the hydro dam together as a manufacturing unit until a solution is found to re-open the Plant.

Resolution 0n the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant/Hydro Dam and 2,000 Union Jobs

Whereas Ford Motor Company has stated its intent to close the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant, sell the hydro dam to a foreign corporation, and displace two-thousand workers in the near future without consultation from the workers, the community, or local and state governments;

Whereas this plant, its operations, and the hydro dam have received continued support from every level of government including tax-payer funding, tax-breaks and tax abatements under promises to maintain manufacturing operations and with assurances workers would have job security in St. Paul, Minnesota;

Therefore, be it resolved, the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party is for public ownership being used to save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant, hydro dam, and two-thousand jobs.

Resolution on Bush’s Economic Stimulus Plan and Initiative

Whereas George Bush’s “economic stimulus plan and initiative” is based upon 150 billion dollars---tax-payer dollars--- being used to bail out a failing economy which includes subsidies to private industries;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party is for tax-payers owning the industries which tax-payer dollars subsidize in proportion to what they subsidize.



People in Michigan say, "We want jobs, not war!"

Friday, April 4, 2008
Resolution on Saving Manufacturing Jobs

Note: As I recently traveled through Wisconsin and Michigan many people wanted to know about our struggle to save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant through public ownership.

This resolution aimed at Presidential candidates is excellent and should be circulated at campaign rallies and meetings everywhere. This resolution should be posted in every union hall all over the United States... please feel free to copy and post widely... you might want to copy and post this to your blog and ask friends to do the same.

For additional resolutions checkout:

With the continued attacks on workers and the endless layoffs and closings of plants, people in Michigan have followed the example of Minnesotans trying to save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant through public ownership and put together this resolution to use during this election season:

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Support Manufacturing Jobs!

Resolution on Saving Manufacturing Jobs

Whereas our manufacturing base is steadily being eroded and

Whereas this loss of jobs is harmful to our nation and the communities we live in and

Whereas those good paying jobs are frequently replaced with lower paying non-union ones that are driving down the standard of living for all working families and

Whereas the loss of our core manufacturing industry will mean the
loss of our technological edge and vital skills and reduced tax revenues for schools and public services and

Whereas every manufacturing job creates seven others and supports small business, directly and indirectly related to manufacturing and

Whereas the $170 billion we are annually spending on the war in Iraq takes away money that could be better used to rebuild our industrial base and retrain workers

Therefore in rebuilding our industrial base primary attention needs to be placed on locating these new facilities in communities with high unemployment and historic manufacturing centers, such as Detroit, Pontiac, Grand Rapids and Flint and

Therefore by rebuilding our industrial base and with it the construction of mass transit, environmentally friendly autos, affordable and energy efficient housing, and the modernization of our infrastructure, we will create jobs, provide cleaner air for all of us, lower individual family's energy bills, and allow greater energy independence for America

Therefore be it resolved that we call on the Presidential candidates to state their support for taking one-half of the money currently being spent in Iraq to be used instead to rebuild industry and provide jobs in the United States.

Posted by Melissa O'Rourke

Taken From: Labor Up Front

Provided courtesy of:

Alan L. Maki
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763
Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell phone: 651-587-5541

Check out my blog:

Thoughts From Podunk