Liveblogging from the Palace Theater in Manchester: “Keep it Made in America” Town Hall Meeting.

by Doug

John Ratzenberger….Keep It Made in America….Granite Grok
The GraniteGrok crew is here at the Palace Theater in Manchester, New Hampshire tonight where television and film star John Ratzenberger and the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) are hosting the ‘Keep it Made in America’ Town Hall Meeting.  This is the first in a series of events, which will travel to seven cities in twelve weeks to highlight the growing demand among voters that the presidential candidates address the challenges facing American workers and manufacturers.
What I find intriguing about the AAM is that it is made up of both manufacturers AND labor union elements– working in concert with each other in common purpose as opposed to the more traditional stances in opposition to each other. Judging by the tee shirts, there is a good number of union related people here this evening. I’ve also spotted prez candidate Vern Wuensche in the crowd, along with some McCain people. Mayor Giunta is welcoming the crowd and making introductions. Scott Paul, the executive director of the AAM is now speaking. BAA Systems. Steelworkers of Manchester are represented. Bringing together Dems, Repubs, union, management,etc. in common cause for US manufacturing. Sen. Ted Gatsas & Sen.Betsy Devries are here also. Gatsas is recalling the history of the mills here in NH. "Made in USA" is still an important slogan. There is much excitement and enthusiasm here in the room.

Sen Devries is encouraging the crowd to make sure they ask the candidates as they come here to NH about American manufacturing. This is very definitely a bipartisan event. We are now watching a video hosted by Ratzenberger that is filmed in Bridgeport, CT, where he grew up. The film notes that when he was young, Americans belonged to "two families- the one they went to in the morning- work, and the onew they went back to at night." The video isn’t the standard whine, but celebrates the meaninhg of "Made in America". (We will have the video available here at the ‘Grok for you to watch.)
Ratzenberger has not hit the stage.
I love this country.
Europe wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the strength of America.
I would rather my grandchild’s crib made here rather than in China…
When a factory shuts down, it’s not just the factory, it’s the whole town.
You’ll never see the name of a Chinese factory on your kid’s little league uniform.
He’s talking about the environment in China. They don’t have scrubbers, they dump toxic effluent into the rivers. Why don’t the environmentalists protest this? Our plants have been cleaned. Ask the candidates.
Skills aren’t passed down from one generation to the next, anymore. Ratzenberger notes how self sufficient many of the workers, who worked with their hands, used to be. He’s also talking about how the kids today can’t measure things. And don’t go outside to play, etc. Back when we had the big factories, everybody knew each other. "Sense of community."
John is now talkning my language– the fate of Western Civilization depends on one-ten thousandth of an inch– machine shops, CNC. He fondly notes the venerable Bridgeport Milling Machines that built the modern world. We’re losing the ability to make such machines, and operate them.
We’re all family. We’re all Americans. We should protect what we have. We’re just feeding the dragon. One day it’s going to turn its head around and take a big bite out of us.
Mr. Ratzenberger is discussing how people that work in manufacturing are thinkers, innovators, and problem solvers. As someone who makes things as a business, I couldn’t agree more.
Now we are watching another video that touts our innovation and cutting edge industry. It’s now showing some stats about jobs lost in recent years and refers to our trading partners like China cheat on trade agreements. ENFORCEMENT. Sounds like a familiar refrain, similar to the immigration woes. Why have agreements if we don’t abide. The movie also mentioned the national security concerns that we all know follows on with the manufacturing health– recall the "arsenal of democracy."
End movie– Three questions to ask the candidates:

1. As President, how will you save American manufacturing jobs?

2. What specific policies will you support to strengthen the American manufacturing base, which is vital to our national security?

3. What will you do to enforce EXISTING trade laws?

There is now a panel discussion with four people-

Bob Danderson– Mayor of Berlin NH. He’s relaying the current story of how the paper mills are being dismantled. He tells a sad story that, I can attest is true. He believes "free trade" is what killed his city. We need "fair trade." He is getting big applause. "Both political parties have failed us."

Ratzenberger pipes in and says the schools are failing us too, with regards to training our kids properly in basic skills.

Mayor Danderson is quite passionate and sincere about the woes faced by his city in the Northern part of the Hranite State.

We are now listening to Gail (didn’t get last name) who works to retrain workers after the jobs go away. She remarked that the big corporate pursuit of more profit. Now talking about Fisher Price Mattel product woes caused by bad trade policies. We can make toys in Berlin better than in China. BIG APPLAUSE…

Mark McKinley

Tom O’Reilley that owns a textile company (tee shirts?) in the Manchester Millyard. He’s talking about how great his employees are. He’s now talking about how hard it is to stay competitive given that the health insurance he provides his employees goes up despite despite there being no big illnesses or other reasons.

"All we ask for is a level playing field."

Question Rich Reilly- Machinist & weldor. "Candidates need to pay attention to manufacturing." Talking about spending last several months helping to write resumes helping struggling people– many in their fifties and sixties. "What do we do now?" What can they do to help us struggling Americans?

Ratzenberger- Litmus test for candidates. They don’t understand people who get up every day and go to work. Can’t use tools.

Roland Sampson. Environment. In this country companies have to adhere to laws to protect land and water. Do they have these in China? Answer- no. Workers have sores from the bad environment.

Why don’t you hold Chinese to the same standard?

Woman- (no name) Amwerican manufacturers have to comply with struict rules & regs. How can we ensure safety with products coming from China.

You can’t.

Ron Burke- management consultant. Every time we solve a problem "over there", we fix it & then they take our jobs. "Outsource our politicians to China." BIIIG APPPLAUSE!!!!! Also noted the problem is caused by us  when we buy products made in China.

Talk about Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

Man- important point not to forget- Companies hiring illegal aliens doesn’t help.

Ratzenberger notes that prior to ’72, you needed a sponsor for immigrants.

Man notes that the illegals are in MANY of the trades.

Now Gail made an anti-corporate behavior remark– Who’s holding them reponsible when they violate worker rules.

The mood seemed to swing to a pro-union feel as we’ve moved along. The official program has ended. I’m headed down to talk with John now.

Leave a Comment

  • Rick Maynard

    I enjoyed the event some of the best time was the questions, to bad it had to end so soon.
    I did want to mention that I watched President Bush comment today that we needed to have the democrats pass the pending trade treaties with Panama, Peru and Colombia and it was imperative to finiancial health of nation.
    Read More Here
    And Here

  • bettie kay

    God Bless John Ratzenberger for speaking up for all those who just never get heard! He is a straight on person with good common sense and is definitely a patriot! Even his comments about our children’s need to acquire GOOD basic skills is one that is commonly ignored.
    I wonder how many interegators of our presidential candidates will bother to ask about their views regarding the value of “Made in America” vs stocking our stores with “Made in China” (which seems to be the frontrunner of imported goods.) I wonder IF they care at all about such a PRIME ISSUE!
    We can ALL hope and pray that non-political Americans wake up, smell the roses (or coffee made in a pot from China), and get involved in this ever so important election.
    Our values used to be stated as “God, flag,and family” They remain the same EXCEPT that we have to STRESS the fact that flag represents the true values of America!

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