Philips Taking Stimulus Funds to Mexico?

Employees of a Philips Luminaires plant in Sparta, TN, are fighting to keep the corporation from shutting down their plant and using stimulus funds to ship their jobs across the border.

Philips informed more than 270 employees in November that they would be shutting down the nearly 40-year-old lighting fixture factory and moving most of its production to Mexico by 2012.

Local County Commissioner Paul Bailey said in a recent article that the news came as a surprise to workers and White County officials since Philips received over $2 million in stimulus money from the U.S. government to continue investing in good U.S. manufacturing jobs.

According to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the plant also received a $5 million bond from the White County Industrial Board three years ago to expand local operations. Most recently, the plant was named one of the Top 10 manufacturing facilities in North America. It has reportedly continued to be profitable and has also won numerous safety awards.

A large group of city and county officials, as well as representatives from the IBEW, have joined forces with the Sparta plant employees to stop Philips Luminaires from shutting down.

White County, TN, suffers from an unemployment rate of 12.2 percent and, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce, the region has lost nearly 9,000 manufacturing jobsin the last decade.

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