COMMENTARY | New York State should officially add skilled blue-collar workers to the endangered species list.
The announcement this week that upstate New York heating and air conditioning manufacturer Daikin McQuay was closing up shop and moving to Tennessee caught the community of Auburn, N.Y., by surprise. Auburn stands to lose hundreds of factory jobs when Daikin McQuay closes sometime in 2014, according to WSYR-TV in Syracuse.
According to Dan Moriarty of the Post-Standard, the Auburn plant had about 300 employees when it was bought by Japanese Daikin Industries for $3.7 billion.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has established a bevy of regional development councils, but the state is bleeding manufacturing jobs at a pace much faster than it can create them. No one seems capable of doing anything about it.
The Post-Standard story provides a sort of he-said, she-said account of why the company was shutting down. However, it’s not rocket science to comprehend that efficiency matters in a post-crash economic era. New York is an expensive, difficult state to run a business in, and will take more than state subsidies to change the risks of capital investment.
In the Post-Standard account, Steelworkers Union spokesman Richard Knowles describes an encounter with William Mateikis, a Daikin vice president who told him they had other matters to discuss other than the labor contract which expired March 1. How to depart from New York was one of the other matters to be discussed.
It’s difficult to grasp why Knowles downplayed basic economic lessons not learned in the shutdown of Syracuse’s Magna International, reported in a 2009 Reuters article. Knowles said he was told that “the decision to close the Auburn plant had nothing to do with taxes, energy costs or labors costs” and that Tennessee had not offered Daikin any tax incentives.
That statement comports with “pigs can fly” and “the moon is made out of cream cheese.” Just imagine 1,700 workers from relatively affordable Tennessee having to move to New York, which has higher heating bills, higher priced gasoline, higher taxes, and requires them to register their guns at the doorstep.
Perhaps New York doesn’t want blue-collar workers in its state in the first place. The state’s environmental activists want to shut down natural gas drilling. CBS News reports that the state’s anti-gun lobby jeopardizes more jobs at Remington Arms in Ilion, N.Y.
Anthony Ventre is a freelance writer and a Yahoo! contributor in news, commentary, and financial writing.