MADE IN THE USA/Joel D. Joseph

President Clinton: Don't Let RCA Move to Mexico

Dear Mr. President:

Japan decimated our television industry in the 1970s by dumping television sets below cost and driving most

American manufacturers out of business. During the late 1980s and early 1990s the American television manufacturing industry made a remarkable comeback, led by RCA and ProScan, its high-end brand. Now the French want to take RCA away from us along with 6,500 jobs in Indiana.

As with most significant inventions of the 20th century, American engineers invented and perfected television. Those inventors worked for RCA, which was then known as Radio Corporation of America. The first television broadcast took place at RCA pavilion at 1939 World's Fair in New York. RCA was also instrumental in the development and expansion of television and developed color television as well. Incredibly, RCA started both the NBC and ABC television networks. For all of these reasons, RCA is an American institution and a treasured national asset and should not be allowed to be transported lock, stock and barrel to Mexico.

Usually, the President of the United States can do little if anything to stop manufacturers from relocating to another country. But this case is the exception. Remarkably, the French government owns RCA. Because of this you can negotiate directly with French leaders and persuade them to sell RCA to the employees of RCA or some other entity.

This is not a case of the free market deciding where television sets can be manufactured most efficiently. This is an example of the French government taking jobs from the United States and moving them to Mexico. This is the essence of managed trade which manages to cost America thousands of jobs.

France is one of the most protectionist nations on the planet. It also has an industrial policy which has harmed the U. S. economy and will continue to harm us if you let it. France is one of the primary nations that has been subsidizing Airbus Industries for decades at an expense of billions of dollars, and thousands of American jobs. Airbus Industries directly caused the abandonment of Lockheed's civilian aircraft division and led to the downfall of McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Corporation. Because of this unfair competition, America now only has one civilian aircraft manufacturer remaining, Boeing-McDonnell.

Just imagine the uproar if the U.S. government owned the only major French manufacturer of television sets and decided to move the factory out of France! Incroyable! L'Droit au travail! (The right to live by labor!) Or if the United States subsidized California champagne and injured the French producers?

The workers at RCA's Indiana plants are well-paid, hard-working, productive Americans. Television manufacturing is an industry that should be preserved in this country. As you know we are on the brink of a new generation of digital televisions. If we don't manufacture televisions in the United States we will miss the next generation of television production altogether.

Thomson Consumer Electronics, a company owned by the French government, purchased RCA in the 1980s. It announced recently that it would close two RCA plants in Indianapolis and Bloomington, Indiana and build a new "state-of-the-art" plant in Juarez, Mexico. In 1994 Thomson worked with RCA's union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, to achieve major cost savings. Now the RCA plants are profitable, but Thomson wants to replace American workers with Mexican workers paid less than $1.00 per hour to make more profit for the French government.

Mr. President, technology is transportable. We develop the best technology in the world and ship it to Mexico or China. We can be the most inventive people in the world, and we are, but how can $15 an hour workers compete with 75-cents-an-hour workers if they use the same technology? If everything can be made cheaper in Mexico or China, who will be left to pay for anything in the United States? Our great consumer economy will collapse as more and more manufacturing jobs go overseas.

An economy without a strong manufacturing base cannot succeed in the long run. If we study the successful economies of the world, only those with a strong manufacturing base have succeeded, with a few exceptions. As the British economy lost its manufacturing base, its economy has failed. Because of their strong manufacturing bases, especially automotive, the German and Japanese economies are the strongest in the world.

RCA's workers and their union are willing to buy the company. The Made in the USA Foundation stands willing to help. Will you join us in seeking to save 6,500 good-paying jobs in Indiana?

Joel D. Joseph is chairman of the Made in the USA Foundation. For information call 1-800/USA-PRIDE, e-mail or check the Internet at <HTTP://>.

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