President Obama highlights Master Lock with Milwaukee visit

Compiled by Courier Staff

President Barack Obama speaks in Milwaukee at Master Lock (Photo by Robert A. Bell)

Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI-4) accompanied President Barack Obama on Air Force One to Milwaukee and on a tour of the Master Lock facility this week. She said that it is her hope that Master Lock will be a model for other companies in her district and across the country on the benefits of “insourcing”.

“It was so wonderful to have President Obama come to Milwaukee to highlight the great investments that Master Lock has made in our city.” Congresswoman Moore said.

She also addressed the president’s budget proposal. “The President’s budget proposes major investments that will encourage other companies to follow Master Lock’s lead. This includes $140.8 billion for research and development and tax incentives for manufacturers to create jobs here at home. Today, the city of Milwaukee and the 4th Congressional District of Wisconsin served as a shining example of how investing in America can help us begin to rebuild our economy.”

President Obama finishes his tour of the Master Lock plan and heads to the podium to speak. (Photo by Robert A. Bell)

Many in Milwaukee and across the State of Wisconsin feel the same as Moore. Local and state officials poured into Master Lock headquarters in Milwaukee located in one of the hardest hit areas economically in the city.

John Drew began the program representing the local UAW Local 469, addressing the success of the labor and management working together. He expressed how the success of a company like Master Lock is all about the cooperation between the union and corporations working together. He also talked about how hard Milwaukee had been hit with so much loss of manufacturing because of the mindset that believed that this country no longer needed products made here and elsewhere in the United States. “New Orleans had Katrina, but our diaster was man made.” he stated.

President Obama embraces Master Lock employee DiAndre, who introduced the president at the event. (Photo by Robert A. Bell)

A young African American man named DiAndre received the honor of introducing President Obama. DiAndre who grew up in Milwaukee is a five year employee at Master Lock. He shared that he was also in school and receiving further education and training in order to advance at the company as well. And he had the support and encouragement from the company to do so.

Following the introduction, President Obama spoke on his own experience of growing up and using Master Lock locks for his school lockers. He joked that forgetting the combination multiple times led to purchasing more locks.

Then he began, “But I’m actually here because this company has been making the most of a huge opportunity that exists right now to bring jobs and manufacturing back to America. I talked about this during the State of the Union. Over the last few decades, revolutions in technology have made many businesses more efficient and productive. That’s a good thing. It means you generally have a choice of better products and better prices. But technology has also made some jobs obsolete. And it’s allowed companies to set up shop and hire workers almost anywhere in the world where there’s an internet connection.

The result has been incredibly painful for a lot of families and communities, especially here in the Midwest. Too many factories where people thought they’d retire have left town. Too many jobs that provided a decent living have been shipped overseas. And the hard truth is, a lot of those jobs aren’t coming back. In a global economy, some companies will always find it more profitable to pick up and do business in other parts of the world.”

He continued with spotlighting what Master Lock has done differnently. “Over the last few years, it’s become more expensive to do business in countries like China. Meanwhile, American workers have become even more productive. So when John was at the White House in January, he told me that it now makes more business sense for Master Lock to bring jobs back home to Milwaukee. And today, for the first time in fifteen years, this plant is running at full capacity – a proud example of what can happen when unions and employers work together to create good jobs. Today, you’re selling products directly to customers in China that are stamped with three proud words: “Made In America.”

John Hepner, CEO of Master Lock is who the president is referencing in his comment. Hepner also spoke prior to President Obama coming to the podium. He talked about the great team of people that he has working at Master Lock and how extraordinary this presidential visit was for not just himself, but the entire company and employees.

“For the first time since the 1990s, American manufacturers are creating new jobs, which is good for companies up and down the supply chain. You’ve all heard enough about outsourcing. Well, more and more companies like Master Lock are now insourcing. They’re deciding that if the cost of doing business here is no longer much different than the cost of doing business in countries like China, they’d rather place their bets on America. They’d rather bet on the country with the best colleges and universities to train workers with new skills and produce cuttingedge research. They’d rather place their bet on the nation with the greatest diversity of talent and ingenuity; the country with the greatest capacity for innovation that the world has ever known.” President Obama said.

He continued, “These include Wisconsin companies like Diamond Precision, a machine manufacturer that will be adding dozens of jobs here in Milwaukee – a company that’s growing because its customers are choosing to buy American-made products instead of supplies from China. There’s also Collaborative Consulting, an information technology company that wants to open a new call center in Wasau. And across the nation, there are well-known companies like Caterpillar that are planning to bring jobs back to America.”

The President also stated that following a summit held at the White House where the administration had the opportunity to hear directly from companies who were insourcing, a decision was made to seize this moment and build on it. And the place to start is the tax code.

“Right now, companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas. Meanwhile, companies that choose to stay in America get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and everyone knows it. Politicians of both parties have been talking about changing it for years. So my message to Congress is this: get it done. First, if you’re a business that wants to outsource jobs, you shouldn’t get a tax deduction for doing it. That money should be used to cover moving expenses for companies like Master Lock that decide to bring jobs home.

Second, no American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas. From now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax. And every penny should go towards lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay and hire in the United States of America.

Third, if you’re an American manufacturer, you should get a bigger tax cut. If you’re a high-tech manufacturer, we should double the tax deduction you get for making products here. And if you want to relocate in a community like this one that’s been hit hard by factories leaving town, you should get help financing a new plant, equipment, or training for new workers.

Milwaukee, it is time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America. This Congress should send me these tax reforms and I will sign them right away.” The crowd erupted with chants of “Right Now, Right Now!”

The streets along N. 32nd and 33rd were lined with local African American residents cheering on President Obama and at the same time signs were held up to “Recall Governor Walker”.