It’s time to stand together as one

It’s time to stand together as one
 
Date June 09, 2004
Section(s) Opinion
By JIM NELSON

Daily News Publisher

Men and women of Maytag: The time has come to stand together, not as union vs. management but as fellow citizens of Newton and central Iowa.

I, like most of you, have not been privy to contract negotiations but apparently we have both a valuable, hard working labor force and a company that is being stressed by its competition like never before.

I’ve heard and read comments similar to “it’s not the company it used to be” or “Fred Maytag would never allow such things to happen.” Both comments and many similar are very true. Unfortunately the reality is that the world isn’t the same as it was when Fred began his company. Many things have changed over the past 111 years in this world, and Maytag‘s place in it is but one of them. Our town, our state, our country and even our world is a different place today and, try as we might, we can’t change that. Worldwide competition is what is stressing us. Maytag competitors are producing products in Mexico, China, Korea and Europe, and it is much less costly to produce there than here. When things are produced less expensively they can be sold less expensively and, unfortunately, consumers often shop by price alone. Stores we used to have in town have moved, leaders we used to have here have passed away, prices we have paid for items have increased and so on.

We must change and adapt. Change can be painful but change is necessary to survive. I honestly believe we are at a crossroads that none of us want to be at. The successful resolution of this contract’s language can and will spell the future for not only Maytag employees but also for the city of Newton. Workers here in Newton cannot save Maytag by themselves but can certainly help make Maytag more competitive in the marketplace and win in the marketplace.

There is much positive on the horizon but a healthy, vibrant Maytag is important to all of us. Maytag owners, the stockholders, want, need and expect a satisfactory margin of profit, or they will move their investment elsewhere. If a company doesn’t show an acceptable profit that company will fail and no one, labor or management, wins.

The company has been a wonderful employer for generations and despite financial pressures like never before it can continue to provide employment for us and our families for generations to come. As talks continue and level headed members of both sides of the negotiating team meet I would hope cool heads prevail. Workers at Maytag have an opportunity to be heroes and save Maytag in Newton and in turn save Newton.

I’m proud to say I live in Newton, Iowa, home of Maytag. Both are great assets. We need to keep those assets together.

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