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terrible shape, because their primary concern is their bottom line; and if their bottom line is going to be enhanced by going offshore, by producing products and services out of the United States, they could care less about jobs in the United States. “They simply want a better bottom line,” LaFalce continued. “It is time that we woke up to that fact. If we are going to help socalled U.S. companies and that is what I want to do, if we want to enhance their competitiveness, if you want to avoid protectionism, that quid pro quo must be the retention and expansion of jobs in the United States.” LaFalce told Alexander Good that he read the Expo Maquila brochure and found nothing “that said if you are having difficulty we will help you become more competitive…. Instead what I saw was Expo Maquila 1986, designed ‘to unlock the riches of the Mexican [maquila] industry for you to help maintain high quality, high efficiency production with an even higher potential for “It is not that these companies are unprofitable,” LaFalce added, “it is just that with these unbelievably low wages ninety cents an hour these multinational companies can make even higher prof its. ,’ It was open season on the Commerce Department, and Alexander Good was a sitting duck. “We collect taxes here … from the people [who] are working in this country, then you use these workers’ dollars … to help facilitate moving their jobs to Mexico?” Bruce Vento, Democrat of Minnesota, inquired. Good: “Our position is we are making a job base, hopefully increasing jobs in the United States.” That was one disingenuous retort too many for one member, Bob Carr, a Michigan Democrat. “Frankly, I have to say what I have heard here today is a bunch of crap.” Carr was not a member of the subcommittee; he spoke as a member of the Appropriations Committee and as a representative of a state that had suffered as much job loss as any in the early and middle eighties. In Detroit, home of the United Auto Workers and where Henry Ford had invented the assembly line, the Big Three auto companies had closed virtually all their assembly operations, moving them to the suburbs, or to the American South, or to the Mexican border and beyond. Jobless levels in Detroit were so high that Mayor Coleman Young had declared “a state of human emergency”; he called the city’s economic situation “a crisis unparalleled since the nineteen thirties.” Bob Carr and Ralph Regula, an Ohio Republican and fellow Appropriations member, had added language two weeks earlier to a Commerce Department appropriations resolution forbidding the department from using 1987 funds for any conference that “conveys the advantages” of U.S. companies moving outside the country. “On the Appropriations Committee,” Carr lectured Good, “we are in charge of U.S. taxpayer dollars. What is so offensive about what you have done is you are taking U.S. taxpayer dollars to promote the re-location of jobs from the United States to Mexico. And you can dress it up all you want with good intentions about how you are really bombing the village to save it, but the Appropriations Committee, on a bi-partisan basis, didn’t buy it.” \(In a subsequent congressional hearing, held the week after Expo Maquila, 12 THE TEXAS OBSERVER Carr reminded his colleagues that in spite of the limitation in the Appropriations Committee’s resolution, taxpayers were still footing the bill for the Expo. “The firms that traveled to Acapulco for this event no doubt made those trips as a tax-deductible expense,” While the hearing was surely useful to lawmakers for cultivating friendships with organized labor and for expressing frustration ”’with an administration that was deaf to the concerns of working Americans, there was also about the committee room a pervasive sense of resignation, of damage done, and that the many voices raised in protest were no match for the swirling global economic forces that had no regard for national borders or the greater good. Chairman LaFalce implied so in his closing remarks. “What I am saying is basically most of these corporations don’t give one damn about whether the job is in the United States or abroad, and basically, the ones who are making the decisions feel no personal pain whatsoever. For that matter,” he added, “they don’t care that much about the pain they are causing to the individuals that are unemployed or to the communities that are adversely affected. Maybe they should have the right to make. those painful decisions not painful to them, but painful to their former employees, painful to the communities where they used to live for twenty years, thirty years, fifty years, but it ought not to be the policy of the U.S. Government to promote that.” Resignation filled the confines of the committee room, and so, too, did inevitability; whether or not the Commerce Department ever spent another penny on maquila promotion, the rush to the border was on. Though the number of American companies migrating to Matamoros had grown steadily since General Motors in 1979 bestowed on the city its seal of approval, the real boom came after 1982, when the Mexican government devalued its currency. American firms paid their workers in pesos, earned their profits in dollars. And when the peso plummeted in 1982 it began the year at less than twenty-seven to the dollar and ended the year at around one hundred Mexican workers’ wages were cut nearly in half, to a rock-bottom rate comparable to the world’s established low-wage havens in the Caribbean basin and the Far East. When MagneTek broke ground in Matamoros in late 1987, the value of the dollar against the peso had soared by an unfathomable 5,000 percent since 1982. The city teemed with global bottom-fishers: sixty-eight maquilas employed twenty-nine thousand workers a doubling of the workforce since the devaluation. Most of those maquilas produced electronics components, and many of them assembled products similar to MagneTek’s: transformers, motors, and other parts that utilized coil-winding machinery. That such businesses were already in place in Matamoros the company considered a plus; there were established support services, and a workforce accustomed to the demands of coil-winding production. And the city was also closer than the other maquila centers to the company’s supply line the steel-stamping would still be done at the Simpson County plant. But there was one negative: Matamoros was home to a powerful union leader reputedly responsible for driving wages higher than those in other border cities. So MagneTek looked elsewhere, most earnestly at Ciudad Juarez. “But Juarez was more of a T.V. [manufacturing] town, and JUNE 9, 2000