Shift Changes: Shuttering of RI rubber plant leaves hundreds unemployed
In the latest bout of bad news for a state with a 10.8% unemployment rate (nearly 2% higher than the national average) the Honeywell Safety Products plant in Rock Island, RI closed its doors last week, leaving more than two hundred workers unemployed.
Though employees at the plant, which manufactured rubber boots, were told of the impending plant closure last January, the state’s dire jobs situation and decimated manufacturing base are likely to dim their career prospects.
The plant closure came on the heels of Honeywell’s plan to “go global”, reports CBS 4 RI. Many of the jobs held by former plant employees have been shipped overseas.
Luckily, the plight of unemployed Rhode Islanders who worked in the state’s once booming manufacturing sector has not gone unheard. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) is a cosponsor and vocal supporter of the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Act of 2011 (S. 1619) which aims to tackle China’s currency manipulation and level the playing field for American manufacturers.
Yesterday Sen. Reed took to the Senate floor to call attention to the job-creating benefits of this bill, and how it would help his home state:
A recent study by a team of three economists confirm what many in my state already know, that jobs in Rhode Island are among the most vulnerable to cheap Chinese imports. Job losses are directly attributable to the U.S. trade deficit with China, which has been exacerbated again by their persistent undervaluation of their currency.
From textiles to toys, Rhode Islanders have been harmed as the artificially cheap yuan and exports from China affected communities… This legislation will strengthen the tools we have to make sure our businesses can compete on a fair and level playing field against foreign companies that benefit from an undervalued currency.
As S. 1619 moves to a major vote today, we hope the Senate remembers that what happened in Rock Island, RI will continue to happen all across the country unless we take serious action to stop China’s cheating. Check back later for updates on this important vote.
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