Now is not the time for Motor Coach Industries to cut back and move production out of America.
MCI opened its first U.S. plant in Pembina in 1963. MCI brought its rich heritage in building excellence to our great state, and I am proud to be a part of this tradition.
Unfortunately, that proud history at MCI is in serious jeopardy. Last month, MCI announced its intent to lay off workers at our plant. At one point, 800 people worked at our plant in Pembina.
I have worked at MCI for almost 28 years. I came to work here because I knew no other company could match the wages, benefits and pride in the job offered by MCI.
I have also been laid off from MCI in the past. But this time, it feels different.
One worker laid off is one too many.
I spent most of my adult life in the surrounding Pembina community. I met the love of my life here, who also works for MCI along with her daughter. The outsourcing might impact our financial health and split our family apart if we have to look for work in different cities amid a pandemic. We are holding off from making any major spending decisions and keeping every little penny in our pocket due to the uncertainty surrounding upcoming layoffs.
Along with other members of my union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), I am proud to make motor coaches used for intercity transit and commuter buses. Our members also build coaches specifically for use as tour buses and prison buses.
MCI employees hear the national discussion by elected officials around using our tax dollars to increase American manufacturing. Our plant has led the way in that effort and prospered, including large purchases from our public-sector customers like New Jersey Transit, who we have been serving since 1983.
I believe that our U.S. tax dollars can be strategically used to increase our nation's production needs. Members of Congress have introduced a bill calling for $500 billion to be spent over the next decade to produce electric public transit. Our Machinists Union members at MCI stand ready to rebuild our nation's transit infrastructure.
Now is not the time to cut back and move production out of America. The newly proposed infrastructure package will improve transportation and allow our plant to compete and manufacture American-made buses. This package will provide the stability our industry has been calling on for years. If this happens, the number of workers at the Pembina MCI plant will increase and not face collecting unemployment from the federal and state government.
I urge MCI to redirect their discussion of layoffs in the Pembina community to a discussion around workforce development and how our plant can play a role in the future of public transit and transportation. Pembina needs to be the manufacturing hub for community transit and passenger buses throughout North America.
I strongly urge MCI to collaborate with our North Dakota congressional delegation and local elected officials to find a solution to keep MCI parked in Pembina.
Randy Hummel is a Motor Coach Industries employee and International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers member in Pembina, N.D.