MADE IN THE USA/Joel D. Joseph
President Clinton: Don't Let RCA Move to Mexico
Dear Mr. President:
Japan decimated our television industry in the 1970s by dumping television
sets below cost and driving most
American manufacturers out of business. During the late 1980s and early
1990s the American television manufacturing industry made a remarkable comeback,
led by RCA and ProScan, its high-end brand. Now the French want to take
RCA away from us along with 6,500 jobs in Indiana.
As with most significant inventions of the 20th century, American engineers
invented and perfected television. Those inventors worked for RCA, which
was then known as Radio Corporation of America. The first television broadcast
took place at RCA pavilion at 1939 World's Fair in New York. RCA was also
instrumental in the development and expansion of television and developed
color television as well. Incredibly, RCA started both the NBC and ABC television
networks. For all of these reasons, RCA is an American institution and a
treasured national asset and should not be allowed to be transported lock,
stock and barrel to Mexico.
Usually, the President of the United States can do little if anything to
stop manufacturers from relocating to another country. But this case is
the exception. Remarkably, the French government owns RCA. Because of this
you can negotiate directly with French leaders and persuade them to sell
RCA to the employees of RCA or some other entity.
This is not a case of the free market deciding where television sets can
be manufactured most efficiently. This is an example of the French government
taking jobs from the United States and moving them to Mexico. This is the
essence of managed trade which manages to cost America thousands of jobs.
France is one of the most protectionist nations on the planet. It also has
an industrial policy which has harmed the U. S. economy and will continue
to harm us if you let it. France is one of the primary nations that has
been subsidizing Airbus Industries for decades at an expense of billions
of dollars, and thousands of American jobs. Airbus Industries directly caused
the abandonment of Lockheed's civilian aircraft division and led to the
downfall of McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Corporation. Because of this unfair
competition, America now only has one civilian aircraft manufacturer remaining,
Just imagine the uproar if the U.S. government owned the only major French
manufacturer of television sets and decided to move the factory out of France!
Incroyable! L'Droit au travail! (The right to live by labor!) Or if the
United States subsidized California champagne and injured the French producers?
The workers at RCA's Indiana plants are well-paid, hard-working, productive
Americans. Television manufacturing is an industry that should be preserved
in this country. As you know we are on the brink of a new generation of
digital televisions. If we don't manufacture televisions in the United States
we will miss the next generation of television production altogether.
Thomson Consumer Electronics, a company owned by the French government,
purchased RCA in the 1980s. It announced recently that it would close two
RCA plants in Indianapolis and Bloomington, Indiana and build a new "state-of-the-art"
plant in Juarez, Mexico. In 1994 Thomson worked with RCA's union, the International
Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, to achieve major cost savings. Now the
RCA plants are profitable, but Thomson wants to replace American workers
with Mexican workers paid less than $1.00 per hour to make more profit for
the French government.
Mr. President, technology is transportable. We develop the best technology
in the world and ship it to Mexico or China. We can be the most inventive
people in the world, and we are, but how can $15 an hour workers compete
with 75-cents-an-hour workers if they use the same technology? If everything
can be made cheaper in Mexico or China, who will be left to pay for anything
in the United States? Our great consumer economy will collapse as more and
more manufacturing jobs go overseas.
An economy without a strong manufacturing base cannot succeed in the long
run. If we study the successful economies of the world, only those with
a strong manufacturing base have succeeded, with a few exceptions. As the
British economy lost its manufacturing base, its economy has failed. Because
of their strong manufacturing bases, especially automotive, the German and
Japanese economies are the strongest in the world.
RCA's workers and their union are willing to buy the company. The Made in
the USA Foundation stands willing to help. Will you join us in seeking to
save 6,500 good-paying jobs in Indiana?
Joel D. Joseph is chairman of the Made in the USA Foundation. For information
call 1-800/USA-PRIDE, e-mail or check the Internet
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