Today, Tina Smith will be in St. Cloud for the latest stop in her grandstanding tour. Nothing says grandstanding like hearing that “U.S. Sen. Tina Smith and U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer will meet Saturday in St. Cloud with local leaders, economic development officials, and some Electrolux employees and union representatives to discuss the company‚Äôs plans to close its St. Cloud manufacturing facility. The meeting, which will be closed to the public, is set for 1:45 p.m. at St. Cloud City Hall. Smith, Emmer and others are expected to be available for questions from the media after the meeting.”

It isn’t that Electrolux employees don’t have questions. It’s that those questions are best answered by the people who deal with this every day. (Unfortunately, Minnesota is getting too good at this.) What’s stunning is that the meeting is closed to the public. What’s being told to these workers that can’t be discussed in public?

One thing that might’ve hurt Minnesota is the skilled workforce issue. Years ago, a study was commissioned that said this:

Robert Ady was a longtime executive of Deloitte & Touche/Fantus Consulting, a leading site location firm. He is said to have assisted more site locations than any living person. He concludes that it is the quality of the work force, not low wages, that is decisive in the site location decision: “The single most important factor in site selection today is the quality of the available work force. Companies locate and expand in communities that can demonstrate that the indigenous work force has the necessary skills required by the company or that have the training facilities to develop those skills for the company.” (Ady, 1997, p. 81).
– A report from the Higgins Labor Studies Program, University of Notre Dame, March 2011

The truth is that many of the workers didn’t have the required skills. That required Electrolux to hire extra workers, which drove up labor costs.

Tina Smith’s empathy is situational. She hasn’t lifted a finger to help create mining jobs at Twin Metals or PolyMet but she’s willing to secretly meet with employees in St. Cloud. What a farce.

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