MORE JOBS DRIFT DOWN MEXICO WAY - GS Of WV Taking Jobs South

(04/19/2002)

By Bob Weaver

More "giant sucking sounds" in the region as light manufacturing jobs go south. Auto parts manufacturer GS of West Virginia, located near the Silverton exit in Jackson County, is going to Mexico, with most of the companies 209 jobs.

The company came to the area after 200 skilled seamstresses at Ripley Manufacturing also went to Mexico in 1993.

Many of the GS workers made $7.35 and hour with benefits, but Mexican workers often make $8 a day with no benefits.

While efforts are focused on economic development in West Virginia's high unemployment counties like Calhoun, Wirt, Roane, Clay, Ritchie and Gilmer, hundreds of jobs have left the region or appear to moving in that direction.

Calhoun residents have survived by driving to regional concerns in Roane, Jackson, Wood and Kanawha Counties, but most of those jobs are disappearing, like Kellwood, Goodrich, the old O. Ames or True Temper plant, among others.

The exodus of West Virginia's light manufacturing jobs is driven by NAFTA, GATT and other world trade projects.

The GS of WV plant recently had extra workers making electronic parts in Spencer, and couldn't find enough workers. The plant opened in 1996 to rumors of tax breaks and a $50,000 workforce development grant.

The Charleston Gazette said GS worker Bonnie Serls has quit voting, upset the politicians have declined to protect American jobs.

West Virginia's Workforce Investment Program, millions of dollars, is directed toward re-training people for jobs that do not exist in the state.


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