Lynn labor protests at Walmart to keep jobs in America

This article was published 2 year(s) and 7 month(s) ago.

Justin Richards, the business agent for IUE-CWA 102, hands petitions to shoppers leaving Walmart on the Lynnway. The goal of the petitions is to stop Walmart from moving the production of GE LED lightbulbs out of the U.S. and overseas to China. (Spenser Hasak)

LYNN — Members of IUE-CWA Local 201, along with allies from the North Shore Labor Council, protested in front of Walmarts in Lynn and Salem Saturday to protest what they call the offshoring of union jobs.

The focus of the event was on a GE-Savant lighting facility in Bucyrus, Ohio, whose workers recently were notified of a work transfer to China.

Local 201 President Adam Kaszynski said that the transfer would lead to 80 job losses.

“People are saying that if these jobs go, then it’s only a matter of time before the plant closes,” said Kaszynski.

The plant makes LED light bulbs exclusively for Walmart, which is why the store’s locations were the focus of the action.

Kaszynski said that he hoped to target Walmart in part because it recently mounted an ad campaign focused on their promotion of American manufacturing and reducing its carbon footprint.

“The hypocrisy of the situation is glaring,” said Kaszynski, “because they’re going to have to send these back from China to sell them in the United States, increasing the carbon footprint. Walmart certainly has the power to demand that these lightbulbs are manufactured in Bucyrus.”

While the focus was on Bucyrus, Kaszynski said that outsourcing jobs had been harmful to the Lynn GE plant as well.

“I think that everyone is fed up with GE outsourcing,” said Kaszynski. “In the 80s we had 7,000 people, and now only 3,000 people work at the Lynn Riverworks. And that’s led to serious consequences for employment in our economy locally.” 

He cited a history of local job losses to Korea, Turkey, Taiwan, and plants in the American South.

“These are places where they can easily exploit workers with low pay, more dangerous working conditions and lower environmental standards,” he said.

“GE is like the outsourcer-in-chief,” he said. “They used to be an American brand — but that has changed over the years as they’ve decided to outsource a lot of their manufacturing work.”

About 25 people joined in the actions Saturday, holding signs, handing out information and explaining the situation to Walmart customers.

Marjie Crosby, a member of the North Shore Labor Council and former member of the Boston Teachers Union, was inspired to go by her husband, Jeff/s, experience working at the GE plant in Lynn.

“For 33 years we lived in fear that the plant would close and he would lose his job,” said Crosby. “Fortunately that didn’t happen and he’s retired. I don’t want to see that happen in Ohio. For me that’s why it’s important that we went down there.”

According to Crosby, who passed out flyers in front of the Walmart in Salem, people were receptive to their campaign.

“We got 100 percent positive reception,” she said. “A lot of people stopped and listened to the rap.” 

She hopes that politicians can stand by their campaign promises to keep jobs in America.

“During the recent elections a lot of candidates were talking about keeping good jobs in the US,” she said. “Now is the time. Talk is not enough.”

This is the third stand-out that GE workers have held in solidarity with the Ohio plant, and Kaszynski stated that he plans to return the following weekend.

The Bucyrus work transfer is set to go into effect on March 6.

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