This must end: Mitsubishi to shut down in Normal, 900 jobs at risk
It’s no mystery why businesses are leaving Illinois.
Mitsubishi Motors North America announced July 24 that it will close down the company’s production facilities in Normal, Illinois, jeopardizing the jobs of 918 workers who are represented by the United Automobile Workers union, or UAW.
“We do not have a statement at this time, however, as an organization, we continuously assess our supply chain to ensure we remain competitive and best positioned to serve our customers,” Mitsubishi North America spokesman Dan Irvin told the Journal Star.
Of all the Japanese-owned auto factories in the U.S., the Normal plant is the only one where hourly workers are represented by the UAW, according to the Pantagraph.
The fact of the matter is that manufacturers in Illinois cannot remain competitive given the state’s absurd regulatory and business climate. And it’s no mystery why businesses leave.
Mitsubishi’s announcement comes after a string of four major manufacturing losses over the span of 10 days from July 6 to July 16, including:
- A July 16 announcement by General Mills that it will shut down its manufacturing plant in West Chicago, laying off 500 workers
- A July 15 announcement by energy processor Bunge North America that it will shut down its Bradley plant, laying off 210 workers
- A July 14 announcement by machine-maker DE-STA-CO that it will move 100 manufacturing jobs from Wheeling Illinois, to Nashville, Tennessee
- A July 6 announcement by an as-yet-unnamed manufacturer that will move 510 jobs paying $55,000 per year from the Chicago area to East Chicago, Indiana
And heavier manufacturing losses have been occurring all year, as manufacturers exit Illinois en masse. Some of those include:
- Granite City Steel announcing plans to shut down its production in the Metro East area, laying off 2,100 steelworkers
- Granite City Steel shuttering its coke-making facility, costing another 176 jobs
- Steelmaker T&B Tube moving 100 workers from South Holland, Illinois, to Gary, Indiana
- American Stair Corporation moving 200 jobs from Romeoville, Illinois, to Hammond, Indiana
- Edsal Manufacturing moving 300 jobs from the south side of Chicago to northwest Indiana
The irony is that Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda speaks directly to the issues that are driving manufacturing facilities and the blue-collar middle class out of Illinois and onto the food-stamp rolls. Since Rauner introduced his Turnaround bills less than two months ago, thousands of manufacturing jobs have already been lost. And jobs will continue to disappear until the policy pain points identified by Rauner are addressed and a responsible balanced budget is enacted. Immediate reforms needed include:
- Workers’ compensation reform to fix the broken system that makes Illinois manufacturers less competitive to the tune of millions of dollars per year
- Tort reform to cure the state’s antibusiness lawsuit climate
- A property-tax freeze to halt the incessant rise of the nation’s second-highest property taxes
Illinois experienced an all-time record high loss of people to other states in 2014. The state also just passed Michigan as the No. 1 food-stamp state in the Midwest, while Michigan just passed Illinois as the No. 1 manufacturing state in the Midwest.
Notably, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan has failed to acknowledge these realities. In refusing to speak about policy errors affecting the state’s middle class, Madigan has offered no thoughts on the causes of Illinois’ manufacturing exodus nor solutions for how to fix the problem.
Without real policy reforms, Illinois’ business climate will continue to drive employers out in droves.