More on the greedy VFC Corporation (parent company of Wrangler)

  • The Seminole Producer: Istook Expresses Concern for Wrangler Workers, Answers Questions about NAFTA Vote
      By KAREN ANSON Managing Editor

      Congressman Ernest Istook issued a press release this week expressing concern for those laid off by Wrangler, and, after questions about his part in the passage of NAFTA, urged focusing on the future.

      “I will continue to work with local officials to make this transition as painless as possible for the affected workers and to enhance Seminole’s economic development,” said Istook.

      “In the face of this closing, projects we’ve already been working on are even more important than ever in helping

      Seminole attract new jobs.”

      His press release outlined all he’s done for Seminole since it became part of his congressional district: a total of $878,400 in federal education grants for Seminole State College, $2 million for SH 99 from Seminole to Ada and a recently announced $200,000 for water and wastewater infrastructure improvements in Seminole.

      “Solid transportation systems, more educational opportunities, and adequate public utility infrastructure are all a part of attracting permanent economic development in Seminole,” said Istook.

      “The Wrangler plant closing is obviously a blow, but we will continue to work together to seek out aid for affected workers and to improve Seminole’s ability to attract new jobs.”

      Wrangler employees and state and local officials have put the blame for the plant’s near shutdown, and the loss of more than 650 jobs, squarely on NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, passed in 1993. The agreement was designed to eliminate barriers to trade and investment in North America. Congress had given negotiating rights to President George Bush who worked with Canada and Mexico on the agreement. Congress voted on the agreement, and when President Bill Clinton came into office, he also supported it.

      Consumer activities opposed the bill saying the US would lose jobs and taxes.

      It was on this issue that presidential candidate Ross Perot made his famous statement: “The sucking sound you hear is all the jobs heading south of the border.”

      Local officials estimate that moving the Wrangler plant to Mexico will allow them to pay $4 a day for wages instead of the

      current average, $10 per hour.

      Istook, when asked about his part in the passage of NAFTA, said he based his vote on requests from the textile industry officials who said they needed it to stay competitive.

      “Labor has always been cheaper in foreign countries,” he said. “NAFTA did not cause that; instead it removed some of our competitive advantages. “We need to look forward now and focus on what we can do at this point to attract more jobs to Oklahoma and Seminole.”

      At last night’s town hall meeting, none of the legislators or officials on the panel had answers when a Wrangler worker asked, “What do we get from NAFTA?”

    Pathetic. Congressman Istook wasn’t able to give any benefits for NAFTA for Seminole, and when asked why he voted for it says that he was acting on the behest of the TEXTILE INDUSTRY!!!

    So, what Istook is really saying is that he acted deliberatly to help VFC/Wrangler “lower its labor costs” (which really means kill 600 Oklahoma jobs!).

    What is most insane is what VFC intends to pay Mexican workers… $4 per day!!! That is 50 cents per hour. That is nothing less than exploitation. I’ve been to Mexico on several occasions and have traveled through much of Northeastern Mexico. I can tell you that groceries cost about the same as they do here. Gasoline costs much more. Many other basic neccesities costs about the same as they do in the US. A loaf of bread costs about the same there. Toilet paper costs much more. You can go down the list but the issue is clear… $4 per day in Mexico is NOT enough for a person to live on.

    If this hasn’t convinced you to join us on the protest line on Friday, please give it some more thought. 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at the main Wrangler plant in Seminole.

    I also hope that other folks in other locales consider taking solidarity actions on behalf of the Wrangler workers. Here are a few ideas on what you can do…

    1. Protest in front of your local Wal-Mart, as they are one of the nation’s largest sellers of VFC products (through both the Wrangler and Ruster brand names)

    2. Refuse to buy any products made by the VFC company.

    3. Send letters of protest to Wrangler. Tell them it ain’t right to ship American jobs overseas so that foreign workers can be exploited at a lower cost.

    4. Contact your elected officials and ask why they are not doing more to protect both American and foreign workers from corporate exploitation.

    Those are just a few ideas. The key is to find creative but peaceful non-violent ways to express your outrage to the VFC corporation and your support for the Seminole workers. Let me know (jmb(at)jmbzine.com if you come up with any good ideas.