Larry Kissell, 27 year veteran of the local textile industry and Democratic candidate for Congress in North Carolina's 8th district, responded today to the latest plant closing announcement -- this time in Scotland County.
"As a 27 year textile veteran that's seen the layoffs and plant closings, I've been there and my heart goes out to the families affected," said Kissell.
Textile manufacturer WestPoint Stevens notified state labor officials it will close a towel plant in Scotland County and lay off about 370 workers in 60 days. Scotland County has suffered the highest unemployment rate in the state the past 3 months, with a current rate of 8.8 percent unemployed.
In a statement, John Hurston, Senior Vice President of manufacturing for WestPoint Home, called the closing "a necessary step as we continue to streamline our domestic manufacturing base in conjunction with the expansion of our manufacturing capabilities overseas." One devastated plant employee said "We've had people leave our plant to go to Pakistan to show them how to run looms."
Just last month when hundreds more lost their jobs to plant closings and layoffs in counties around the 8th District, Larry Kissell joined others in expressing his frustration with so-called free trade agreements.
"What these companies call stream lining we call shutting down. We lost 800 jobs in Montgomery County when Renfro [Kissell's former employer] closed and went south of the border. Robin Hayes said he was 'flat-out, horizontally opposed' to the Central America Free Trade Agreement after seeing thousands laid-off by Pillowtex -- then he goes and votes for it when the President asks him to saying he got concessions. The only concessions I'm seeing in the 8th district are the ones families make as they work to hold on to their homes and businesses in this tough economic time."
Montgomery Economic Development Director Judy Stevens blamed her county's recent plant closing on the effects of foreign trade. Stevens stated that globalization "continues to have a devastating effect on the more rural areas such as ours."
"It's no longer just textiles in our district being devastated by the Washington politicians. We see it from Kannapolis all the way to Fayetteville. If we don't take a stand now, there won't be any manufacturing jobs left at all. It is time for Robin Hayes to realize that switching his vote on CAFTA is a firing offense," said Kissell.
This time exactly one year ago Robin Hayes assured North Carolina working families "Every time I drive through Kannapolis and I see those empty plants I know there is no way I could vote for CAFTA." [AP 7/14/2005]
Hayes also said "What does CAFTA sound like? NAFTA.... It's not in the best interests of a core constituency I represent." [ Raleigh News and Observer, 7/14/2005]
"NAFTA plus CAFTA equals SHAFTA," said Kissell.