Whirlpool’s $19.3 Million Stimulus Leaves Blind Workers and 1,055 Others in U.S. Jobless

12:56 pm in Uncategorized by Doug Martin

As David Dayen points out in his “Weekend Roundup” today, wonderful Whirlpool is finally moving its Evansville, Indiana, plant, which employs 1,100 (including 45 visually impaired workers), to Mexico.

The plant, which has operated since 1956, will close this Friday, since it is not competitive "from a cost standpoint," Whirlpool’s Jody Lau tells the New York Times.

Workers have known of the “shakedown” since August 2009. In a February 24, 2010, story, Huffington Post‘s Sam Stein included a letter from Paul Coburn, the division vice president for Whirlpool’s Evansville Division, threatening that if the Indiana union workers protested the plant’s closing, they would risk their future job prospects.

This, however, did not stop over 5,500 workers, activists, and the AFL-CIO from protesting in Evansville in February, after collecting 70,000 signatures condemning the closing, John Jacobsen, at Trial by Fire, reported.

Recently, the International Union of Electrical Workers stuck a billboard in Benton Harbor, Michigan, headquarters for Whirlpool, which reads: "Shame on Whirlpool for building a new plant in Mexico to take good-paying manufacturing jobs out of the U.S. during our nation’s tough economic times."

But Whirlpool still plans to outsource 216 workers’ jobs from Benton Harbor by 2011, leaving only 30% of its workforce left in America.

In Indiana, forty-five disabled workers will be let go, since the Evansville Association with the Blind has partnered with Whirlpool to provide jobs for the visually impaired for 50 years.

Not surprisingly, at the end of October 2009, two months after the company’s closing announcement, Obama’s team awarded Whirlpool $19.3 million from the stimulus package to deploy clothes dryers to respond to smart electric grids.

Last week, Whirlpool recalled 1.7 million dishwashers from its Maytag division because several models have caught on fire.

Cross-posted at Blue Indiana in a slightly different version.