Media Blog

Obama’s ‘Insourcing’ Success?

In his latest Weekly Address, the president highlighted the company that makes Master Lock padlocks as an example of manufacturing companies that are returning to the United States. Um, 100 jobs?

Longtime Milwaukee manufacturer Master Lock    Co. has added nearly 100 jobs over the past 18 months at its factory in the central city, mainly as a result of moving some work back to the United States from China.

The growth prospects for Master Lock are even brighter now that the company is part of a new spinoff business, said Chris Klein, president and chief executive officer of Fortune Brands Home & Security, Master Lock’s Deerfield, Ill.-based parent company.

The work force at the local Master Lock factory, 2600 N. 32nd St., has grown to more than 400 employees since about mid-2010, Klein said.

In addition to the workers at the Milwaukee factory, Master Lock has about 200 employees at its Oak Creek headquarters, 137 W. Forest Hill Ave.

Long lead times and labor issues led Master Lock to shift some work from China back to its Milwaukee plant, Klein said in an interview with The Business Journal. Master Lock has been producing locks in Milwaukee since 1921.

Oddly, the president didn’t mention the labor issues that hampered Master Lock in the first place. Nor did he mention this, via Wikipedia;

In 1999, Fortune Brands began to abandon most operations in its Milwaukee Master Lock factory, and moved most of its manufacturing jobs to offshore plants in China and Mexico, putting an estimated 1,300 American workers (represented by the United Auto Workers) out of work. In 2011, it was announced that 36 jobs making combination locks were being returned from China to the heavily-automated Milwaukee plant, which would now employ 379 workers. It would continue to contract with three Chinese factories, twenty Chinese suppliers, and to operate its maquiladora near the Arizona border, where low-cost Mexican workers do non-automated, labor-intensive work, such as assembling made-in-Milwaukee components.[3][4]

So, the majority of the jobs will still be in China and Mexico. Success?!

If we’re going to talk about manufacturing policy, a little bit of honesty is necessary. Outsourced contract manufacturing, whether done in the U.S. or overseas, is here to stay. A manufacturing company that doesn’t have the ability to “turn-off”or “turn-on” its production line in response to demand can’t be successful in today’s economy.

When a U.S. company turns-off its production line in say China, there’s no concern for the hundreds or thousands of Chinese workers now displaced by the move. A U.S. company that tried to do this in the United States would be pilloried in the media for the same business decision.

Another example is what’s going on at the Foxcon plants in China. As the MSM lauded now-dead Steve Jobs, there was near total ignorance of the working conditions that made his products:

When 150 workers at Foxconn climbed to the roof of one of its factories in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in a labour dispute earlier this month, it was a chilling reminder of the suicide series that shook the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer less than two years ago.

There were no suicides in Wuhan on January 3, and workers who were present that day said no one was actually threatening to jump. But the drastic protest reflects new labour woes plaguing the company which makes the lion’s share of the world’s iPhones, iPads and other electronic gadgets.

How many Liberals who care deeply about labor unions or the working man have given a second’s thought to how their iPhone was manufactured?

I’ll leave you with this. If the president cares so much about insourcing, he certainly didn’t show said concern when commenting on the death of Jobs:

Michelle and I are saddened to learn of the passing of Steve Jobs. Steve was among the greatest of American innovators – brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it.

By building one of the planet’s most successful companies from his garage, he exemplified the spirit of American ingenuity.  By making computers personal and putting the internet in our pockets, he made the information revolution not only accessible, but intuitive and fun.  And by turning his talents to storytelling, he has brought joy to millions of children and grownups alike. Steve was fond of saying that he lived every day like it was his last.  Because he did, he transformed our lives, redefined entire industries, and achieved one of the rarest feats in human history: he changed the way each of us sees the world.

The world has lost a visionary. And there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Steve’s wife Laurene, his family, and all those who loved him.

The spirit of American ingenuity, according to the president, is manufacturing your product in China?

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