By TIM ROWDEN
Washington – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill met recently with Missouri members of the United Steelworkers Union to discuss the importance of supporting manufacturing jobs in Missouri and keeping pension promises following the announcement by Harley-Davidson that it was closing its Kansas City, MO, manufacturing plant while opening a new assembly plant in Thailand.
The closure will cost about 800 jobs in the Kansas City area. Harley says it’s moving the Kansas City work to the company’s plant in York, PA, creating about 400 additional jobs in York. But that doesn’t help workers in Kansas City and still represents a net loss of 400 jobs.
“These Missourians spent their careers working for Harley-Davidson in Kansas City — and lost their jobs even as the company builds a new plant in Thailand and sees a windfall from a tax cut that was supposed to benefit Americans workers,” McCaskill said. “Hearing these stories pushes me to keep fighting to ensure we can reward our hardworking America manufacturers instead of the executives that move good jobs overseas.”
In February, McCaskill sent a bipartisan letter with members from the Kansas City region to urge Harley-Davidson to reconsider plans to close its Kansas City Assembly Plant.
McCaskill has been a longtime advocate for Missouri workers and manufacturers.
In 2016, after urging from McCaskill on behalf of Bull Moose Tube Company and EXLTUBE, the International Trade Commission voted 4-2 to level the playing field for Missouri and U.S. manufacturers by finalizing duties against foreign steel pipe and tubing producers found to be illegally dumping in the international market.
FIGHTING TO SECURE PENSIONS
McCaskill also has fought harmful cuts to retiree benefits and the burden of poorly managed pensions.
Last year, she organized meetings between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Missouri truck drivers at risk of losing their pensions. She also introduced the Butch Lewis Act to create a new office within the Treasury Department that would allow pension plans to borrow the money they need to remain solvent and continue providing retirement security for retirees.
McCaskill is a cosponsor of the Keep Our Pension Promises Act, which would repeal the law that allows for massive pension cuts, and was the only member of the Missouri Congressional delegation to vote against legislation that allowed for deep cuts to retiree benefits for the 32,000 Missourians who participate in the Teamsters Central States Pension Fund.
McCaskill also backed the Pension Fund Integrity Act, to cut excessive executive compensation, stop raises and bonuses for pension fund executives, and prohibit financially troubled pension plans from using plan assets to hire outside lobbying firms.