From Campaign for America's Future, this stunning news. Notice how union workers are the only ones paying attention to safety issues? In recent years
August 27, 2009

From Campaign for America's Future, this stunning news. Notice how union workers are the only ones paying attention to safety issues?

In recent years, multinational corporations have become accustomed to saving money by exporting production to China without concern for labor issues, environmental standards, or product safety. In fact, China typically violates world trade laws through dumping, subsidies, and illegal currency manipulation in order to gain a cost benefit over U.S manufacturers. Unfortunately, this mercantilistic approach too often proves harmful to U.S. workers and consumers in the long-run.

One potentially alarming example of cost savings by following the “China price” is being reported by utility workers in Illinois.

Pat Dillon, an employee at People’s Energy of Illinois and a member of the Gas workers Local 18007/Utility Workers of America, says he has concerns about the gas meter bars he regularly installs as part of his job as a Senior Service specialist #1. People’s Energy recently switched from using American-made Model 6722 high-pressure gas inlet valves (which are manufactured in Iowa) to McDonald 6762 inlet valves made in China.

Click here for photos of both valves-- the American-made model #6722 and the Chinese-made model #6762.

Dillon says that the Chinese models, though similar in price to American models, lack critical O-ring washers. Based on his 30 years of experience with gas meter bars in People’s Energy’s service department, he also believes that the Chinese versions are inferior because the connection cones are not made of brass. He said, “The previous American made bars had brass cones. Anything less is not going to be as safe.”

Dillon reports that he became concerned when People’s Energy was bought by Wisconsin Power Services, which later evolved into a company called Integrys Energy Group. Shortly thereafter, People’s Energy switched to the Chinese-made valve bars, which caused concern among his co-workers.

Dillon said, “We all started to wonder why they’d switch to something that seemed less sturdy, less safe. Then I looked on the box and noticed that they were made in China. I realized that the company was probably trying to save a few pennies.”

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