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Local union members join in protest against Walmart

By Howard B. Owens

Protests were held at several Walmarts around New York today, including Batavia, over concerns that Walmart has reportedly pressured GE-Savant to lower prices for lightbulbs, forcing the company to move a LED light factory from Ohio to China.

Press release:

On Saturday, Jan. 30, at Walmart stores at four locations in New York state, a coalition of labor and community groups will hold a protest as part of a national consumer awareness campaign informing the public of Walmart’s two-faced stance as a champion of “Made in America” products. 

LED light bulbs that are sold at Walmart are currently made by IUE-CWA workers at the GE-Savant Systems LLC lighting plant in Bucyrus, Ohio. GE-Savant recently announced that they intend to move the LED residential light bulb product line out of the facility to China, permanently laying off 80 workers, and putting the future of the plant in jeopardy.

The GE-Savant facility is one of the only residential lighting plants left in the USA, nearly all other residential light bulbs are now made in China.

Walmart’s website and TV ad campaign says “We are committed to American renewal. We believe we can create more American jobs by supporting more American manufacturing.” The coalition is calling on Walmart to live up to this promise. 

“This should be easy for Walmart,” said IUE-CWA International President Carl Kennebrew. “Walmart’s brand of LED Bulbs that now carry an ‘Assembled in the USA’ label are scheduled to be moved to China.

"Walmart can tell their supplier (GE-Savant) to cancel plans to ship them overseas. If Walmart is serious about supporting American manufacturing, this is how they can show it.”

“This is only the beginning,” said Ron Herrera, president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. “Americans are waking up to the power of their spending dollar. When we choose to buy American, we are purchasing a product of the highest quality while investing in our communities and in our fellow Americans.

"Walmart must be part of the solution and invest more in our great nation and its people. The bulbs currently manufactured in Bucyrus, Ohio should continue to be made in Bucyrus, Ohio.”

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