Unfortunate vote, sad result

Unfortunate vote, sad result

Trying to find a light bulb made in the USA at a big-box store is like trying to find a needle in a haystack — or an American-made baseball, bicycle, television set or pair of Levis just about anywhere.

And so it is disheartening to see the failure of efforts to save the General Electric Ohio Lamp Plant in Warren — the last vestige of what was once a huge GE manufacturing presence in the Mahoning Valley.

The company held out a lifeline to nearly 200 employees at the plant, offering a contract that would have preserved their jobs. It also would have meant that a line of energy-efficient halogen bulbs for commercial customers would be stamped “Made in America” at the Warren plant.

But a majority of the 179 members of Local 722 of the International Union of Electrical Workers-Communication Workers of America rejected the proposal.

A significant factor in the rejection was that about 95 of the union members were eligible for retirement benefits and severance pay if the plant closed. They voted for early retirement, leaving younger workers and their families who needed their jobs to fend for themselves.

One can’t help but wonder what union pioneers such as John L. Lewis, Samuel Gompers and A. Philip Randolph would have thought of a union vote that placed a higher premium on I got mine than on solidarity.

Perhaps that’s just as much a reflection of the nation today as is the disappearance of the phrase made in America.

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