Rep. Jane Harman Hits Sour Notes From JBL Layoffs and Outsourcing to China
Print Friendly and PDF
Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) is getting lots of bad press because her husband's audio company (Harman-Kardan/JBL) is shutting down their engineering department in California. Whatever remains will be be offshored to China.

After considerable research I have come to the conclusion that Rep. Harman is getting a bum rap — but that doesn't mean she should be exonerated.

Since at least 2008 Harman has been outsourcing segments of their manufacturing activities to China, India, Hungary, and Mexico. New foreign factories were being opened while at the same time U.S. facilities were being closed down. One of the plants to go was the Harman-Becker plant in Martinsville, Indiana that designed and manufactured sound systems for upscale cars. In the process hundreds of American workers lost their jobs.

Once Harman/JBL gutted their U.S. manufacturing facilities the next to go was engineering.

A letter from human resources director Sandra Buchanan of the JBL division of the Harman company is very blunt about who would lose their jobs and where those jobs would go. The letter was obtained exclusively by The American Spectator:

July 20, 2010 I am writing to inform you that Harman Consumer, Inc. has decided to consolidate their global engineering operations located at 8500 Balboa Boulevard, Northridge, California 91329, to Shenzhen, China. The separation is expected to be on September 30, 2010 and will affect forty-eight (48) employees. . . . The layoffs are expected to be permanent and there are no bumping rights.
The warning about employees having no bumping rights means that everyone is subject to job termination regardless of seniority.

What is going on at Harman is cruel and heartless but not unusual in the United States. However, founder Sidney Harman shouldn't be blamed for the corporate cannibalism that is going on because he no longer has a say in how the company is run. This excerpt explains how ownership of the company was transferred when Sidney Harman retired:

However, as Sidney Harman considered retirement, no heir apparent emerged to lead his empire. On April 26, 2007, at the age of 89, Harman announced a merger with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. (KKR) and the GS Capitol Partners unit of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in a deal valued at $8 billion. The merger underway, KKR and Harman decided it best to hire a new CEO from outside the company. Dinesh C. Paliwal, a promising 49-yearold businessman who made a name for himself with the global technology and engineering company ABB Limited, was named CEO on July 1, 2007. Harman International Industries Vs. Munro Shoes, Saturday Evening Post, by Aaron Rimstidt
When Dinesh Paliwal took the helm it was quite obvious that that the company was going to be offshored. A cursory look at Paliwal's background shows that he is a hard core trans-national globalist. He was born in India and rose to corporate prominence at ABB, an Indian owned conglomerate formerly known as the Hindustan Electric Company. His involvement with globalist organizations is particularly telling — he is a member of the Trilateral Commission and the Business Roundtable. In addition he has served as Chairman of the National Foreign Trade Council, Director for the US China Business Council, and Director of the US India Business Council.

With a CEO like Dinesh Paliwal the Harman Company was reduced to a rotting carcass just waiting to be picked apart by the corporate vultures. That would have never happened when Sidney Harman was in control because he was a critic of offshore outsourcing. In 2004 Harman wrote a book called "Mind Your Own Business" [read on Google books] where he wrote a few things that seem like common sense to everyone but modern economists and politicians:

When you manufacture offshore in low-labor-rate countries, there are additional unpredictable but often-significant costs that arise from problems in the offshore facility. ... And once you yield the manufacturing to others, you become dependent on them. I much prefer to roll my own. I am certain that in the midterm and the long term, it generates extra benefits for the company.
So, despite the headlines that claim that Rep. Jane Harman is proffering on the backs of Americans who lost their jobs — both she and her husband can't be held responsible for what is transpiring. Nevertheless, Jane Harman is far from an innocent bystander!

Harman's record on immigration is dismal. According to the NumbersUSA report cards, she has a grade of D+ for her entire career, and an F- on work visas. Her website doesn't lend to her credibility either. The issues page is more important for what it doesn't have — jobs, economy, and immigration. By drilling deep into the website I found a letter she wrote that tells us all we need to know about her stance on immigration:

To: Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of LA April 29th, 2010

The immigration law signed last week in Arizona [SB 1070] is deeply troubling and should be condemned.

What I do support is comprehensive immigration reform, which should include humane border enforcement, employer sanctions and a path to earned legalization for the estimated 12 million people living in the shadows of this country.

Adding to the controversy, Sidney Harman, at the age of 91, just bought Newsweek magazine. Stories of layoffs are appearing and of course none of that helps Jane Harman's campaign.

Jane Harman isn't the only one running for that office so in theory Californians have a choice. Meet Mattie Fein, who is campaigning as the Republican alternative. Her issue page is more superficial that Harman's, if that's possible. So much for choice!

Mattie Fein posted a video on the website with a spoofy horror story that is perfectly timed for the Halloween — and the election season. Mentally challenged voters in California won't be bothered with political issues as they are entertained by a movie with two iconic stars: a wicked witch (Harman) or a young Dr. Frankenfein (misspelling intentional by Fein). At the very least this is a Congressional race that will make voters tremble with anticipation!

Print Friendly and PDF