FALL RIVER (CBS) – Factory workers in Fall River say they were blindsided by an announcement that the facility is closing and moving to Mexico. About 160 people will soon be out of work.
The union is hoping President Trump will step in. “They just said, we’re closing this plant and everybody was in shock,” says Joseph Santos, the president of IBEW 1499, the union that represents about 100 workers at Philips Lighting in Fall River.
The company is moving those jobs to Monterrey, Mexico. “We will all be unemployed and it’s devastating to us all,” says Santos.
Philips has manufactured lighting fixtures in Fall River since the early 70s. Joe Santos works at the plant and has two kids in college. “We are upset. We are not happy,” he says.
At union headquarters Wednesday, they planned for an upcoming meeting with Philips to talk about the next steps. The company in a statement told WBZ: “We are working with the local union and government officials to assist these employees with placement and/or retraining programs.”
But the union is looking for higher help, tweeting to President Trump, asking him to remember his campaign promises to protect American jobs. “We would love him to come here and come and look at our factory and see what we do and how we’re all being affected by this,” says Santos.
We contacted the White House press office to ask about this, but got no response. However, that office told the Boston Herald: “President Trump is committed to defending the American worker and continues to build on the economic momentum provided by his tax cuts and regulatory relief that will make it easier for American workers and companies to succeed.”
“We cannot keep letting our manufacturing jobs go to other countries,” says Karl Hetzler who heads the Fall River Industrial Park Assoc. and owns a manufacturing business near the Philips plant. He worries that once these jobs leave, that is it. “They may not come back and it’s getting harder and harder to find good opportunities for people,” he says.
About 100 of the Philips jobs will move to Mexico. Another 60 will go to Canada. The union is also contacting local politicians, asking for help, realizing that the workers will not move along with the jobs.