Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Opinion

April 7, 2014

Demise of apparel industry in Kentucky continues

Hondurus-bound

ASHLAND — The steady demise of the once thriving clothing industry in small Kentucky towns continues with the latest factory to announce it is shutting down being one of the largest: Fruit of the Loom has announced it is closing its last remaining plant in Jamestown, a move that eventually will see the elimination of more than 600 jobs in the small town near Lake Cumberland.

The reason for the latest closing is all too familiar: The company is moving its textile operations to the Central American country if Hondurus, where it can hire workers to do the same jobs that those in Jamestown have been doing at a fraction of the cost.

In a news release, the company said its decision was “to align its global supply chain to allow the company to leverage existing investments and meet customer requirements more timely and cost effectively.”

Cheaper labor

“This decision is in no way a reflection on the dedication and efforts of the employees in our Jamestown facility, but is a result of a competitive global business environment,” Tony Pelaski, the company’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, said in a news release.

That’s the company’s way of telling the 601 hourly workers in Jamestown that they have been dependable, loyal employes who have done everything the company has asked to help it succeed. Unfortunately, even though garment workers are among the lowest paid factory workers in the United States, workers in Hondurus are willing and able to do the same thing while earning less than what the minimum wage is here in the U.S.

A steady decline

In the last three decades, we have seen the steady demise of the once-thriving garment industry that has included the  Corbin Ltd. plant in the Paul Coffey Industrial Park in rural Boyd County along with smaller clothing manufacturers in Olive Hill, Louisa and other small towns. While many Americans give lip service to buying American-made goods, those same people are eager to buy clothing made elsewhere because it is less expensive thanks to the lower wages paid factory workers.

Staying in Bowling Green

Fruit of the Loom plans to continue to maintain its corporate offices in Bowling Green, where it closed in factories years ago. While American countries can easily outsource factory jobs requiring limited skills to Latin America, China, India and other countries,  they continues to prefer executives and sales people born nd educated in the United States. Since many of Fruit of the Loom’s products are sold in the U.S., it is wise for the company to keep its business headquartered in the U.S.

As required by federal law, Fruit of the Loom said it will give its employees in Jamestown a 60-day notice before eliminating their jobs, and it has notified state and local officials “to provide any available assistance.” The Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet said help would be available to workers searching for new jobs, starting training or enrolling in school and that local teams from the Kentucky Career Center would provide information about available state and federal assistance.

One thing is certain Those Fruit of the Loom workers who are fortunate to find new jobs will be working in a new field. Jobs in he apparel industry are rapidly becoming a thing of the past in Kentucky and they will never come back as long as workers in other countries are willing to work for much lower wages.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • PAUL CHITWOOD: Ruling on same-sex marriage defies state constitution

    News that U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn once again usurped the will of Kentucky voters is tragic and disappointing. By declaring gay marriage legal in the commonwealth, Heyburn defied the essential, foundational governing document that ensures order and justice, the Constitution of Kentucky.

    July 8, 2014

  • More difficult

    In a state like Kentucky with the number of adults who have not graduated from high school is much higher than the national average, undereducated adults have been encouraged to earn high-school equivalency degrees by studying for, taking and passing the General Educational Development (GED) test.

    May 22, 2014

  • Primary election sends messages

    The voters — or at least the minority who took the time to go to the polls Tuesday — have spoken, with Boyd County voters sending mixed messages in the county-wide races that gathered the most attention.

    May 21, 2014

  • Click it or Ticket

    "Click it or Ticket” is a phrase used so often in recent years most of us hardly give it a thought.

    May 21, 2014

  • Top trooper

    Thumbs up to Trooper First Class Shane Goodall of Flatwoods for being named 2013 Trooper of the Year for Kentucky.

    May 20, 2014

  • 05/18/2014 — This Week in the Tri-State

    Local news

    May 18, 2014

  • Magolene S. Fraley 1929-2014

    Magolene Spears Fraley, 84, of Wurtland, died Saturday in Community Hospice Care Center in Ashland.

    May 17, 2014

  • Business grant

    Morehead State graduate student Kayla Keeton, who received her undergraduate degree from MSU last spring and is now studying for her MBA at the school, has received a $5,111 grant from the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development to help her start Belles of the Bluegrass, a high-tech wedding planning business.

    May 16, 2014

  • Recovery Fest celebrates kicking addiction

    The wet weather no doubt impacted the size of the crowd at Saturday’s Recovery Fest 2014 at Veterans Riverfront Park in Ashland, but there were plenty of reasons for addicts who are now drug free to celebrate and for speakers like State Sen. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, and others to talk about the impact the prescription drug epidemic has had on this region and for others to distribute literature and offer words of encouragement that could convince some to seek help in their battle with their drug addictions.

    May 13, 2014

  • In Your View 5/13/14

    Letters to the editor:

    May 13, 2014