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About Northwest labor press. (Portland , Ore.) 1987-current | View Entire Issue (June 16, 2006)
Vancouver auto mechanic and auto body shops fly Machinist flag
If you’re in the market for auto body
or mechanical repair, Vancouver, Wash.,
has two union shops that can take care
of your needs.
Marv’s Auto Repair , 6015 NE
88th St., has been under contract with
Machinists Vancouver Lodge 1374
since 1955. Owner Marvin Hervi has
three employees who work on all
makes and models of automobiles.
“We’ve got fourth generations of
customers coming in for car repairs,”
says Hervi, who opened his first shop
on Highway 99. “There were no free-
Marv Hervi (right) has owned Marv’s Auto Repair in Vancouver for 55 years,
“when American-made cars had American-made parts.” His three-man
mechanical staff includes from left to right: Marvin Hervi Jr., Dave Nute and
John Erosky. They are members of IAM Vancouver Lodge 1374.
ways or street lights when we opened,”
The cars his crew services also have
changed since then.
“You have GMs and Fords with
parts made in Bangladesh and Israel,
and you have Toyotas and Hondas with
parts made in America,” Hervi said.
“Do you know that GM and Ford have
parts made in 27 different countries? It’s
Marv’s Auto Repair is open Monday
through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The phone number is 360-574-3961.
Mechanics are Dave Nute, John
Erosky and Marvin Hervi Jr.
Todd’s Auto Body, 15615 NE
Fourth Plain, Vancouver, Wash., is a 40-
year-old business that employs 11
members of Machinists Vancouver
Lodge 1374. It is one of the last re-
maining union auto body shops in
Owner Vern Toedtli recently added
a new paint shop behind the company’s
existing building, which sits on the fam-
ily farm where he was raised. The com-
pany’s total production space is 15,500
square feet and includes a pair of state-
of-the-art downdraft Garmat paint
booths with a mixing room in between.
John Bister preps a section of an automobile that has been damaged in an
accident. Bister is the shop steward at Todd’s Auto Body, one of the last union
shops in Southwest Washington. He has worked at Todd’s since 1987 and is a
member of Machinists Vancouver Lodge 1374.
In 1966, Vern and his brother pur-
chased the farm from their parents to
open the auto body shop. Vern bought
out his brother four years ago, so he
now owns the shop with his wife, Doris.
Toedtli told the trade magazine
Parts & People that some of his crew
have worked there for more than 20
“I’ve got a very good crew,” he said.
AFL-CIO files human rights trade complaint against China
By MARK GRUENBERG
SHARON, Pa. (PAI) — George
Bornes is concerned. He’s been at his
job making highly finished pipe for 38
years. He’s the new president of his
Steelworkers local. But by this time
next year, he might be unemployed —
thanks to China.
Take Bornes, who works at the
Wheatland Tube Co., plant in Sharon,
Pa., and multiply him by 930,000 peo-
ple, and you have the impact of
China’s unfair and internationally-ille-
gal lack of worker rights on U.S.
workers, a new AFL-CIO trade com-
The complaint, filed June 8 with
the Bush Administration, invokes Sec-
tion 301 of U.S. trade law to demand
the administration investigate whether
Chinese labor rights practices violate
international agreements that China it-
self has signed, and the impact of
those violations on U.S. workers. The
Administration has 45 days to decide
on a reply.
If past is prologue, AFL-CIO Sec-
retary-Treasurer Richard Trumka ad-
mitted at a press conference announc-
ing the filing, the Administration will
bounce the complaint again, just as it
did two years ago.
“China is violating international
trade law and the Administration is do-
ing nothing about it. Trumka said.
Trumka isn’t betting that the Ad-
ministration will act on the labor fed-
eration’s complaint, even though con-
ditions have have worsened in China.
The AFL-CIO’s case details ram-
JUNE 16, 2006
pant Chinese violations of labor rights
conventions it has signed and which
the World Trade Organization’s
(WTO) rules let other nations com-
plain about and act against, in self-de-
fense against unfair trade.
The violations include 10 million to
15 million child laborers, several mil-
lion cases of forced labor, workers
whose average pay is three months be-
hind, violations of China’s own mini-
mum wage and overtime pay laws,
wages for workers of 15 cents to 50
cents a day — when they’re paid at all
— and beatings and jail for workers
who petition for their pay. Those fac-
tors produce the cheap Chinese goods,
many of them sold to U.S. firms.
Those violations in turn let Chinese
goods come into the U.S. at 10.6 per-
cent to 43.6 percent below market
prices, costing U.S. jobs, the com-
They’re jobs like Bornes’, at the
Wheatland plant in the northwestern
Pennsylvania steel town, where work-
ers manufacture pipes for everything
from plumbing to natural gas lines.
“We had 400 workers there, but due
to surging pipe imports, 300 of them
have been laid off,” Bornes told the
press conference. “I’m tired of seeing
the loss of our jobs from our govern-
ment’s failure to enforce trade laws.”
Bornes explained that just rising
steel and zinc costs for domestically-
made pipe are $700 per ton.
But even with the cost of shipping
pipe across the Pacific, Chinese pipe
sells on the West Coast for $550 per
ton. And since China joined the WTO,
whose trade rules it is supposed to obey,
Chinese pipe exports to the U.S. have
risen from 9,000 tons a year to more
than 300,000 tons a year, Bornes said.
The reason for the difference is
China’s labor policies, the AFL-CIO
complaint says. And those same poli-
cies cost an estimated 930,000 U.S. in-
dustrial jobs and more than 1.2 million
overall, including spinoff jobs, the
The cost difference cut Wheatland’s
business and forced it to shut most of
its production, he added.
Company managers have told those
remaining that unless the firm gets
more orders, they’ll be laid off, too.
“Anyone at my pipe plant with less
than 19 1/2 years employment is on
layoff status. The furnace is shut
down. We’ve got about 100 workers
still handling orders, but the company
says they are prepared to close the pipe
mill. They cannot compete with
China’s finished pipe prices and surg-
The Wheatland workers who lost
their jobs have scrambled to find other
employment, Bornes said in an inter-
view afterwards. And he wonders what
to tell his grandchildren about where
U.S. jobs will be. “These guys got
TAA training,” Bornes said of the fed-
eral Trade Adjustment Assistance pro-
gram that gives workers who lose their
jobs due to imports subsidized retrain-
ing for new employment. “But there
are no jobs there to train them for.”
Or at least no jobs that paid as
NORTHWEST LABOR PRESS
much as the ones they lost at Wheat-
land. “There’s nothing left in Mercer
County (Pa.), except Wal-Mart, K-
Mart or to become a nurse,” Bornes
said. So the workers’ only other
choice is to sell their homes in a de-
pressed local market and move else-
where for jobs.
It’s that type of impact the AFL-
CIO trade complaint is designed to
spotlight and to force the Bush Admin-
istration to investigate, Trumka said.
Reps. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.)
and Christopher Smit (R-N.J.) joined
the AFL-CIO complaint.
“The numbers are in and the situa-
tion is critical for workers…We’re
asking the U.S. trade representative to
investigate, and we’re convinced it’ll
show China is violating worker rights
and it has cost us business and jobs in
the U.S. and the U.S. should take ac-
tion against China consistent with the
WTO” rules, said Cardin.
“Poverty wages, prison labor, child
labor” and denial of collective bargain-
ing “are all part of China’s violations
of labor rights,” Trumka added.
“China’s policies drag down the entire
world.” Not just in the U.S., but in
That perspective came from former
Chinese textile worker Lu Jing Hua,
who joined an independent union there
before the 1989 Tiananmen Square
protests and crackdown, fled China af-
terwards to the U.S., and later became
an organizer for th International Ladies
Garment Workers Union, now part of
She described conditions in Chi-
nese plants that were horrific, includ-
ing one case of five underage girls
forced to work in a factory in Hebei
province for no wages at all. When
their parents protested to authorities,
they were jailed.
The girls tried to keep warm on
cold winter nights in their unheated,
unventilated factory by lighting coal
fires. One night, two were asphyxiated
and company officials buried the three
others to cover up the abuses, Hua said.
Hua said Chinese workers are pow-
erless because independent unions are
banned. That leaves outside pressure,
primarily from China’s trading part-
ners, as the only recourse — and that
led to the AFL-CIO trade case.
The federation’s complaint two
years ago was dismissed, Trumka said,
with Bush and his Cabinet promising
there were other, better methods to get
China to follow international trading
rules. Brandishing a copy of the Ad-
ministration’s statements, Trumka said
Bush has not only failed to carry them
out, but he let the situation worsen.
“Global corporations from Wal-
Mart to Proctor & Gamble to Delphi
to Dell relentlessly squeeze labor costs
in Chinese affiliates and suppliers and
use the threat of low-wage competition
to roll back decades of hard-won gains
in wages, benefits and dignified treat-
ment for workers in the U.S. Severe
exploitation of China’s factory work-
ers and contraction of the American
middle class are two sides of a coin,”
the complaint adds.