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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Brown hammered for outsourced jobs

By JIM HADDADIN

Staff Writer

NASHUA – A state senator from Nashua, the mayor of Berlin and the former commissioner of the state’s economic development wing criticized Republican Scott Brown on Monday for profiting from a company that outsourced jobs overseas.

Brown, a candidate for U.S. Senate, has earned $270,000 sitting on the board of directors of a Massachusetts company that capitalized on cheap foreign labor in places such as China while shielding millions of dollars in profits from U.S. taxes. ...

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NASHUA – A state senator from Nashua, the mayor of Berlin and the former commissioner of the state’s economic development wing criticized Republican Scott Brown on Monday for profiting from a company that outsourced jobs overseas.

Brown, a candidate for U.S. Senate, has earned $270,000 sitting on the board of directors of a Massachusetts company that capitalized on cheap foreign labor in places such as China while shielding millions of dollars in profits from U.S. taxes.

Details about Brown’s position with the company, Kadant Inc., of Westford, Massachusetts, and its history of outsourcing jobs were first reported in The Sunday Telegraph.

In response, Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier, former Department of Resources and Economic Development Commissioner George Bald and Nashua state Sen. Bette Lasky criticized Brown on Monday during a conference call organized by the re-election campaign of U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, an incumbent Democrat who could face Brown on the ballot in November.

“I know what Sen. Shaheen has accomplished,” Bald said, “and when you look at that accomplishment, it’s pretty significant with facilitating the creation of good jobs, and as far as what Mr. Brown has done for the state of New Hampshire, it is a blank sheet of paper. He really has not accomplished anything.”

As DRED commissioner, Bald said he worked with Shaheen to help companies remain competitive while creating jobs in the state. After watching companies in the paper industry outsource jobs, Bald said he was disappointed to learn that Kadant, a global supplier of fiber processing equipment, participated in the practice.

At age 59, Grenier said he has seen a generation of jobs lost to outsourcing in the North Country, where mill work and manufacturing at the Converse Rubber Co. dried up.

“We’re the end result of some of the … policies that Scott Brown looks to represent, and I certainly could not support a gentleman who would look to outsource even one job,” he said.

Lasky, a Democrat, said Brown’s profits from Kadant fall within a pattern the former U.S. Senator from Massachusetts established by putting his personal interests first. Lasky said Nashua residents have suffered from outsourcing in technology companies.

“That’s not the kind of person we want representing us,” she said of Brown.

Four of Kadant’s 14 manufacturing facilities are in the United States. The rest are scattered around the world in countries such as China, Mexico, Brazil, Sweden, the Netherlands and France.

In 2005, Kadant closed a manufacturing facility in Louisiana, combining it with a facility in Alabama “for outsourcing,” company officials said at that time on a conference call with investors.

“A reduction in manufacturing in North America is necessary as we shift toward lower-cost regions such as China,” said Bill Rainville, Kadant’s CEO at the time.

Kadant also expanded its manufacturing in Mexico in 2006 at the expense of jobs in Massachusetts. U.S. Department of Labor records confirm that over the last decade, Kadant made three applications for laid-off workers to receive federal trade assistance because their jobs went overseas.

Company officials have defended the labor decisions, saying that moving the jobs away actually helped boost domestic jobs. As a result of becoming more competitive and winning more orders, the company’s employment in Massachusetts is at a 10-year high, a Kadant official told The Sunday Telegraph.

Grenier said he doesn’t find that defense of outsourcing persuasive because it serves to increase corporate profits and not necessarily the wages of middle-class workers.

“The whole fabric of your community is at stake when you ship out a job,” he said.

Brown’s campaign declined to respond to the criticism Monday.

Staffers also previously declined to answer questions about Brown’s role at Kadant and his views about its offshore operations.

Instead, Brown’s campaign pointed to Shaheen’s record while serving as governor of New Hampshire. In the late 1990s, Shaheen and the Executive Council approved a contract for New Hampshire and six other Northeastern states to hire Citibank to administer their food stamp programs.

Two years after she left office in 2004, The Associated Press confirmed that Citibank had subcontracted telephone work with a Wisconsin company that then hired a company in India to do some of that work.

Lasky said the situation isn’t analogous because subcontractors moved the jobs overseas, not Shaheen or the state of New Hampshire.

“I certainly don’t think that Sen. Shaheen could be held accountable for what they do two places down the road,” Lasky said.

Jim Haddadin can be reached at 594-6589 or by email: jhaddadin@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Haddadin on Twitter (@Telegraph_JimH).