Steelworkers on foreign companies, jobs

Last week provided two outstanding examples of what we need to build a strong green economy in America.

On Tuesday, Feb. 16, Spanish manufacturer Ingeteam announced that it will build a wind turbine generator manufacturing facility in Milwaukee, creating 270 jobs over the next five years.

And on Thursday, Feb. 18, Spanish wind turbine manufacturer Gamesa said it would bring back 79 workers laid off in November and hire an additional 50, after Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell (D) announced the award of $22.8 million in economic Recovery Act funds for three wind projects in the state.

These are manufacturing jobs–the heart and sinew of a green industrial economy that can reshape America's future and lay the foundation for long-term growth.

Commenting on Gamesa's announcement, Rob Witherell, chief negotiator with the firm for the United Steelworkers, said:

“I’d like to thank President Obama for his leadership in getting the stimulus bill passed last year and I’d also like to thank Governor Rendell for investing it wisely.

“Gamesa’s turbines have one of the highest, if not THE highest, percentage of domestic content of any wind turbines in the U.S.

“By manufacturing blades right here in Ebensburg and assembling nacelles in Fairless Hills, Gamesa continues to invest in Pennsylvania and sustain the kinds of good jobs we need right here in Pennsylvania.

“Rebuilding our economy means rebuilding our manufacturing base. Every good paying manufacturing job supports up to 5 other jobs. We believe the best use of our U.S. tax dollars is exactly what it is being used for today: creating and saving good U.S. jobs.

“Now, critics may say that Gamesa is a foreign company because it’s headquarters are in Spain. But, just like every person that works in this plant, our Union believes that where a company’s corporate headquarters are located matters a lot less than where the investments are being made and the jobs are being created. Gamesa’s investments here and the jobs they’ve created here, make it as much of an American company as any other wind turbine manufacturer.

“Governor Rendell’s announcement today means that nearly 100 people right here in the Ebensburg area have good jobs that would otherwise be unemployed.

“Governor Rendell, this community, this company, and this union thanks you.”

These were heartening developments involving a few hundred jobs. But we can dramatically increase their numbers if Congress ACTS NOW on comprehensive energy and climate legislation that includes a strong Renewable Electricity Standard with aggressive, binding near- and long-term targets for renewable energy use.

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