The recession that began in 2008 is now reaching its tipping point. More jobs are now being created and new companies have begun to re-appear on American shores. But two recent facilities in Michigan have become the root of complaints against the Obama Administration with regard to the alleged misuse of US stimulus tax dollars.
According to the complaints filed by the local labor unions, jobs created by the two new facilities in the area are reserved for Korean nationals. This means that although these plants will help the local and national economy as a whole, they will not do much to counter the unemployment rate of Americans. Michigan is known to have the worst unemployment rate in the US.
The companies in hot water are LG Chem and Dow Kokam. Both companies are into the electric car industry and are getting a combined $300 million taken from the stimulus program. The companies’ main products are electric batteries.
Mark Mangione, a representative of the almost 1,000 labor union members in west Michigan, says that the local residents are angry because they are expecting to see job creation for Americans. Instead, the labor unions claim that Koreans are the primary beneficiaries of the job creation.
Plant owners, say in their defense, that the jobs Korean nationals filled require unique expertise in the handling of highly sophisticated equipment. They add that all Korean workers are temporary and legal. When asked how many of their workers are Koreans Dow Kokam says it’s around 150 as of last December. Meanwhile, LG Chem refused to give any statistics.
However, labor unions argue that they have pictures showing Korean nationals doing hands-on work that can be done by Americans. Examples of these jobs include installing the machinery, piping work, doing electrical work, mill right work and installing the machines in the plant.
In addition, the two mentioned Korean-owned plants bought a lot of Korean equipment and supplies; therefore helping the economy of North Korea more than America.
The labor unions have written complaint letters to the Department of Labor and the Obama administration but received very few answers. So the group filed an appeal based on the Freedom of Information Act to access the payroll records of both LG Chem and Dow Kokam.
The appeal also included a request to access the contractors of the companies who are tasked in performing construction work. The government responded with 18 companies and at least 11 of them are Asian firms.
Meanwhile, officials from the Energy Department remain confident that all laws have been followed. They also support the statement released by both companies that the stimulus money provided by the government has indirectly helped create 300 fulltime jobs and 2,000 temporary construction jobs.
Labor unions say that they are happy that businesses have come to their state; they just hope that all the job vacancies will be filled by Americans.
The situation in Michigan may not be isolated as other states may have experienced these too. Unless the government comes up with a way to measure the true economic worth of businesses, Americans will continue to be unemployed even after the recession.
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