This week, Senate-seeking Democrat Michelle Nunn continued the outsourcing drumbeat against Republican David Perdue by introducing a new face into her television advertising: Roy Richards Jr., chairman of the board of power cable manufacturer Southwire.
Here’s what Richards says in the ad:
“My dad founded Southwire in Carrollton more than 60 years ago, and today it’s the leading manufacturer of power cable in North America. When I hear David Perdue say he’s proud to have outsourced jobs to other parts of the world, I have to wonder. Every time we invest in Georgia workers, they can compete with anyone in the world, so I don’t know how you can be proud to have sent American jobs overseas.”
But according to the federal government, Southwire has shipped jobs overseas.
Six times since 2000 groups of Southwire employees have sought and received Trade Adjustment Assistance from the U.S. government, basically compensation for losing their jobs to overseas competition.
A 2011 application for adjustment assistance for 28 Southwire workers in Long Beach, Calif., states “production has been shifted to Mexico.”
The U.S. Department of Labor agreed, writing “there has been a shift in production by such workers' firm or subdivision to a foreign country of articles like or directly competitive with articles which are produced by such firm or subdivision.”
Other TAA cases – including one where workers in Carrollton lost their jobs – note cheaper imports as a reason, but do not state that Southwire is doing the importing.
Since the 1990s, the company has increased its overseas footprint – including operations in China, India and Honduras.
The company laid off 80 workers in Watkinsville in 2009, more than half of the plant, citing the struggling economy.
Still, Southwire employed 3,000 people in Georgia as of last year, when the Georgia Department of Economic Development named the company the Manufacturer of the Year.
It expanded its Carrollton plant, prompting praise from Gov. Nathan Deal.
“This homegrown company was founded here decades ago, and its growth in Georgia reflects the advanced skills of our dedicated workforce as well as its overall satisfaction with our business-friendly environment,” Deal said a year ago.
In 1993 the company changed its incorporation from Georgia to lower-tax Delaware.
Outsourcing has become a big topic in Georgia’s U.S. Senate race, as Nunn has gone after Perdue for a newly revealed 2005 deposition in which he said he spent “most of his career” outsourcing. Perdue says the outsourcing was part of strengthening companies and saving jobs in the U.S., and he blames federal government policies for the decline of American manufacturing.
Said Perdue spokeswoman Megan Whittemore:
"This is absolute hypocrisy, Michelle Nunn has now outsourced her attacks to an actual outsourcer. Nunn's new ad features a major campaign donor who has shut down American plants and laid off workers in Georgia, while sending jobs to places like Mexico and China. David Perdue, on the other hand, has spent his entire career creating and saving thousands of jobs here in America."
Nunn spokesman Nathan Click had this to say:
"There is a great irony in David Perdue, who under oath admitted that he spent most of his career outsourcing American jobs overseas, is now attacking a company founded and built right here in Georgia that employees over 2,600 Georgians. Perhaps David Perdue thinks we don't have the expertise to understand that time and again he's found ways to make millions for himself at the expense of workers and communities across Georgia and America"
A call to Richards on Friday was not returned.
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