Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon made a stop to talk to Ford autoworkers in Claycomo and outline his plan for Missouri’s future as governor if elected Nov. 4.
His visit comes on the heels of reports that American Airlines in Kansas City will lay off 450 workers. At the end of the month 2,400 Chrysler autoworkers will be out of a job in Fenton, Mo. The Claycomo plant for the last couple of years has been offering voluntary retirement programs.
A.J Stockton, of Orrick, has worked at the Ford plant for nine years. He said his biggest concern is keeping his job with all of the layoffs.
“I hope he helps us out with our jobs,” Stockton said. “It’s a good job. I would hate to lose it. We’re one of the last auto plants in the state of Missouri.”
Stockton said workers are transferring in from all over the United States from other plants that have closed down or have made cutbacks. He said in speaking with some of those workers, they see some of the same things happening here.
“They all know the warning signs,” he said. “They see it all working itself over again.”
Nixon spoke right to Stockton’s concerns. He said the economy is changing and Missouri needs a leader to help bring and keep manufacturing jobs that new technology will drive. Nixon said Missouri has the resources to build the cars of the future. He credits past Gov. Mel Carnahan for having the leadership to bring manufacturing jobs, like the Harley Davidson Plant in Kansas City, to Missouri.
“They’re going to be produced somewhere and they ought to be produced right here,” Nixon said. “We can prove that our workers were better and we can prove that we we’re going to embrace technology. We have to get offensive in economic development.”
Nixon shared a story about a factory worker who was the movie star for a training film for Chinese workers. He said it’s sad that the worker was the star for his own job.
“It’s not some CNN story about someone else to him,” Nixon said. “It affects us all. It’s real-on-real. That’s why we have to be on offense. We can’t wait on a trickle-down economy. We’ve got to make a game plan to win.”
Nixon said he visited northwest Missouri a few weeks ago and visited a wind farm. He said developers told him that Missouri has a vast amount of space for the windmills but they can’t get them, because they are made somewhere else and they are on back order. Nixon said Missourians shouldn’t wait to be energy independent. He said as governor he would explore all energy options including solar and nuclear.
“When it comes to electricity we’re going to become a net exporter not an importer,” Nixon said.
Nixon also took questions from the workers concerning healthcare, education and tax breaks for Missourians who buy products in Missouri. According to a report in the Detroit Free Press, sales for Ford’s F-series trucks are down more than 43 percent in the last three years. The Claycomo plant is one of the largest producers of the F-Series.
Nixon told the workers that they need to support not only him, but also other people running for seats in the legislature to pass bills in favor of manufacturing.
Nixon also addressed the growing healthcare problem. He said his opponent, Congressman Kenny Hulshof, thinks the Blunt Medicaid cuts were forward thinking.
“This state is going in the wrong direction on healthcare,” he said. “He’s called Blunt’s cuts forward thinking. It’s kind of forward thinking – off of the Grand Canyon.”
Nixon said the state is throwing away millions of dollars in federal match funds for insurance programs each year.
He also outlined his agenda for public education. Nixon wants to extend the A+ program from two years to four, and he wants to reinstitute alternative schools for children with behavioral problems.
“You guys think you’ve got some difficult shifts?” Nixon asked the audience. “We’ve got to make sure teachers are in charge of classrooms. That’s a tough job, we’ve got to support our teachers.”
Nixon also said the state has to find ways to make higher education more affordable.
“Folks are making decisions not to improve themselves because they don’t want to go into debt,” he said.
Nixon also stressed the importance of speaking to neighbors and getting young people to vote.
Photo: Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon told a joke to Ford autoworkers on Saturday at the local UAW Hall in Claycomo across from the Ford Plant. Nixon, who is campaigning for governor, spoke to the workers about their concerns about keeping their jobs in Missouri. (Photo by Dennis Sharkey/The Daily News)