IAM Slams Whirlpool?s Closure of Maytag Plant in Illinois

Washington, D.C., May 10, 2006 – The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) reacted sharply to Whirlpool’s announcement it was closing its Maytag washer and dryer facility in Herrin, IL and moving the work to its Whirlpool facilities in Clyde and Marion, OH. The IAM represents about 800 production workers at the Herrin, IL facility.

“This closure is the direct result of the Bush Administration’s abdication of its oversight responsibility when it allowed the merger of two companies that would end up with almost 80 percent of the U.S. market share for washer and dryer manufacturing. It also underscores this Administration’s opposition to a meaningful industrial policy to protect America’s manufacturing sector,” said IAM President R. Thomas Buffenbarger.

Whirlpool acquired Maytag in March 2006 after outbidding Ripplewood Holdings, a private equity firm, and Chinese appliance manufacturer Haier in a takeover battle that started in May 2005. The Bush Administration ignored the IAM’s and other groups’ objections to Whirlpool’s bid on grounds the new company’s giant market share would cost jobs and harm consumers. The Justice Department’s Anti-Trust Division approved Whirlpool’s bid in March 2006, even though the new company would produce almost 80 percent, or three out of every four, of washers and dryers made in the U.S.

“Lousy trade policies and a complete lack of enforcement of anti-trust and other measures to protect jobs and consumers are leaving American communities devastated as family-wage manufacturing jobs are sent overseas or consolidated by multinational companies,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President James Brown. “Congress must act to stop the stampede of jobs to Mexico and other nations and enact an industrial policy that encourages manufacturers to keep good jobs in the United States. Manufacturing jobs are the key to a strong middle class, stable families and vibrant communities. We cannot afford to lose them.

“We will immediately begin meetings with our federal, state and local leaders to pressure Whirlpool to reverse its misguided decision,” said Brown. “We will also demand meaningful steps to protect U.S. manufacturing jobs, including an end to millions of dollars in bonuses to top executives for flushing good American jobs down the toilet.”

The IAM is one of the largest industrial trade unions in North America, representing nearly 720,000 active and retired members in the U.S. and Canada. For more information about the IAM visit the website at www.goiam.org.