Letter From Rockfordrnby Scott P. RichertrnA Month in the Life of thernIndustrial MidwestrnNews Item: “Motorola Inc. will close itsrnonly U.S. cellular-phone manufacturingrnoperation, putting 2,S00 of 5,000 peoplernout of w ork to ease sagging profits amidrnincreased global competition. Employeesrnwho will remain at the 1.3 millionsquare-rnfoot plant that opened in 1996rnwill focus on research, marketing andrnother activities for the cellular market…”rn(“Motorola cuts 2,500 in Harvard,” RockfordrnRegister Star, January 21, 2001).rnThe first announcement came like arnthief in tiie night. Onlv four years ago.rnMotorola’s Han-ard plant had opened torngreat fanfare: Politicians and businessrnleaders viewed Motorola’s investment inrnNorthern Illinois as a sign that the greaterrnRockford area was poised to ride the crestrnof the high-technology wave. Perhaps itrnwould have, if that wave hadn’t comerncrashing to shore. The Galvin family,rnwho founded Motorola in 1928 and runrnit to this dav, seem to be Midwestern patriotsrnwho would rather keep the bulk ofrntheir operations in Hie United States. Butrntiie dirt- little secret of NAFTA and thern TO was not the immediate job lossesrn—which were covered up by both thernClinton administrahon and its “conservahve”rncrihcs — but that the rules of the currentrn”free trade” regime are structured inrnsuch a wav that a company like Motorolarnma’ not be able to survive an economicrnrecession without transferring jobs overseas.rnTo keep its cell phones, modems,rnand semiconductors cutting-edge andrncompetitie, a high-tech company mustrnspend vast sums on research and development.rnIt would be economic suicidernfor Motorola to cut R&D in order to continuernemplov’ing Americans when it canrnlegalK’ ta]) a vast pool of lower-wage workersrnsouth of the border and overseas.rnNews Item: “PrimeCast Inc., a foundryrnonce owned by Beloit Corp., will shutrndown in Marcli because it couldn’t replacernthe work lost when Beloit Corp.rnclosed. Atchison Casting Corp…. madernthe annouircement to PrimeCast’s 160rnworkers Tuesday. . . . PrimeCast openedrnin 1958 and, at one hme, was South Beloit’srnsecond-largest employer with morernthan 300 workers” (“PrimeCast foundr-rnto shut down in March,” Rockford RegisterrnStar, January 25, 2001).rn”The business of America is business,”rnCalvin Coolidge said in 1925, but SilentrnCal couldn’t have foreseen the day whenrnsome “American” businesses would employrnpredominantly foreign workers.rnWhat are the long-term prospects of anrnindustrial city like Rockford when nationalrneconomic growth depends not sornmuch on the sale of American-madernproducts overseas, but the reduction ofrnwage costs for U.S.-based mulhnationals?rnWhat does it mean for the economicrnhealth of families in Northern Illinoisrnwhen the necessities of life —food, clothing,rneven medicine—may bear an Americanrnbrand name, but are produced overseas?rnSince 1973, both trade restrichonsrnand average household income — measuredrnin real dollars —have declined,rnwhile the average number of hoursrnworked per household has risen. In otherrnwords, fathers and mothers are spendingrnless hme with their children simply tornmaintain a constant income. At best, thatrnmeans young children spend more timernin daycare. Here in Rockford, it usuallyrnmeans more government-school indoctrination:rnAlmost all local public schoolsrnhave full-day kindergarten, and over halfrnof all preschoolers in Rockford participaternin early childhood education. Asrnhigher-paying jobs leave our comniunit’rnand fathers and mothers compensate byrntaking two or more lower-paying jobs, wernmove ever closer to Hillary Clinton’s “village.”rnNews Item: “DaimlerChrysler said Mondayrnit will cut 26,000 jobs —includingrnnearly 1,000 in Belvidere—and shutterrnsix plants outside the United States in anrneffort to stem losses at its financially strugglingrnChrysler division. By July, thernsecond shift will be eliminated at thernBelvidere plant, where 3,300 workers assemblernthe Neon. Sales of the small carrndropped 11 percent last year, and localrnautoworkers have been idled since Jan.rn22 in an effort to reduce inventories. . . .rnChrysler is the largest manufacturingrnemployer in the Rock River Valley butrnwill lose that ranking to Hamilton Sundstrand,rnan aerospace and industrial partsrnmaker that employs 2,900 in Rockford”rn(“Chrysler to slash 26,000 jobs,” RockfordrnRegister Star, January 30, 2001J.rnThe shipping of jobs overseas is simplyrnthe latest step in a process of consolidationrnthat has been weakening the industrialrnbase of the Midwest for decades.rnWith its acquisihon by Daimler, Chryslerrnobviously ceased to be an American company,rndespite the attempt to paint thernmerger as an “equal partnership.” Butrnthe acquisition of smaller Americanrncompanies by larger ones has been just asrndamaging. When United TechnologiesrnCorporahon of Connecticut bought outrnRockford’s Sundstrand Corporation inrnJune 1999 and merged it with theirrnHamilton Standard division, they cut 500rnlocal jobs within three montlis. The officialrnhistory of Hamilton Sundstrandrn(found on the company’s website atrnwww.hamiltonsundstrandcorp.com/rnAbout/history.htm) is littered with dozensrnof mergers and acquisitions. LikernChrysler, United Technologies may findrnthat an economic slowdown could makernit vulnerable to foreign acquisition; tornprevent becoming the object of a merger,rnit may end up moving even more ofrnSundstrand’s operafions out of Rockford.rnAPRIL 2001/29rnrnrn