Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
Last Friday U.S. Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-IL) visited the Chicago Solo Cup production facility of Dart Container Corporation, a member company of SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association. The visit was set up by SPI’s grassroots advocacy team, and like all such visits arranged by SPI’s Advocacy Group, was designed to achieve a number of important goals.
Most of us in the plastics industry realize that very few people outside our business have any idea of what we do, much less how we do it. With a few exceptions, this also would be true of Members of Congress, as well as most state and local elected officials. Yet they are tasked with setting policy and passing legislation that directly or indirectly impacts manufacturing, including plastics manufacturing.
It is highly beneficial that Representatives, Senators and other legislators see the technology in action to gain an understanding of how things are done in a plastics plant, be it making resin, blow-molding bottles, extruding pipes, molding auto components or forming packaging. Invariably, the visiting legislators walk away impressed, and even amazed. Working with it day after day, we often take it for granted, but the reality is that our technology is high tech, sophisticated and impressive.
It is also important that elected officials see local people working in good-paying jobs with benefits making valuable products. Seeing it live and in person brings home the message that our vibrant plastics industry is hard at work, and contributing to the local, state and national economies.
These visits also benefit those of us who work in plastics manufacturing. They create an opportunity for us to discuss our concerns and needs with those in a position to do something about them. They need to know and what better way to learn than straight from the source.
Congressman Lipinski was shown the Dart Container factory by Plant Manager Dan Mitchell. He saw up close how Solo Cups are made, and we can be sure he was impressed. Following the tour, he held a town hall type of meeting with Dart employees. The discussions included manufacturing policies, trade initiatives, chained CPI and several other issues Congress is dealing with at some level. There was plenty of participation by the employees in their discussions with the Congressman, as it should be in a democracy.
True, there may not have been total agreement on everything that was discussed — that’s what elections are for — but there was the chance for open, honest communication and discussion. And in the end, all were happy to have their picture taken together.
Is your plastics facility something a national or state elected official ought to see and understand? Of course it is. SPI members should talk with SPI about arranging a visit. It’s easy to do and today would be a great time to get the ball rolling. Check in with Suzanne Morgan, SPI’s Senior Director of Government Affairs and Grassroots Advocacy (firstname.lastname@example.org).