When Airbus, that very successful French plane manufacturer, opened a plant in China, French workers were laid off, there were demonstrations and a series of protests at the French parliament. Now, Airbus is preparing to build a plant in Alabama. The French unions are concerned that there will be more layoffs in France.
AMD, the processor manufacturer that is Intel’s primary competition, is in the process of returning to America after moving to Germany more than a decade ago. Then, AMD said the move was motivated by the combination of a superior education system in Germany and nationalized health care. But they are moving to New York State, a union state where they will not save significant money because of wages. Alabama is a whole other planet.
The French unions want guarantees that there will be no loss of jobs in France with the opening of the Alabama plant, which is scheduled to start building four plans a month beginning in 2017. They want to know that the increase in demand for Airbuses is not filled at the expense of French workers. They want to know that the Alabama plant will fill the increased demand and not cut into the existing demand which is met with plants in Britain, France, Germany and Spain. The European economy is very fragile at this time and any loss of jobs would be devastating.
But what does it say about America when a company like Airbus builds in Alabama as casually as it builds in China? Have we reached the point where our right-to-work states can economically compete with the slave labor of China?
We don’t have nationalized health care. We don’t house our workers in huge dormitories and feed them in state-run cafeterias and let them go home once a year for a short vacation. We don’t tell people they have to work for this company or that company, no matter what that person may want to do. We don’t work 12-hour shifts, seven days a week. Airbus isn’t the auto industry, where they choose to manufacture in America because that is where the customers are. Airbus is sold all over the world, but not as much to American airlines. So, what makes Airbus think that coming to Alabama is a smart business move?
There are only two answers. It is possible that Airbus’ owners and executives are willing to take a smaller profit and more reasonable executive salaries than we are accustomed to from American companies. Or, they are assuming that we will be stupid enough to put the Republicans in charge of our entire government, thereby ushering in a era of fascism, which Mussolini called “corporatism because it is the perfect merger of corporate and government power.” Many Republicans have already called for an end to minimum wage and they are working hard to destroy what few unions we have left.
There is another concern in any loss of jobs in Europe, and not just for Europeans. Many of our small business owners are citing the austerity budgets and double-dip recessions in Europe as a cause for their business contractions. They have lost customers in Europe because Europeans don’t have the money to buy American products. If Airbus lays off people in four nations to run a plant in Alabama, the job losses will ripple across those economies and hurt us even more than their current situation is. It is not to our benefit to take jobs from Europe in one industry and lose jobs in others as a consequence.
But the idea that Alabama is as good a place for a foreign manufacturer as China? That’s damneddisturbing.