US: Honda criticised in Indiana hiring row
Indiana state lawmakers have complained about geographic limits Honda Motor has placed on hiring for about 2,000 jobs at its new Greensburg factory.
Five Democratic legislators have sent a letter to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation saying they disapproved of using state incentives to attract a company that limits its hiring to a portion of Indiana, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
The report said Honda announced this summer it would look for workers who live within a 20-county area around the southeastern Indiana factory but that excludes counties containing the cities of Anderson and Muncie which have been hit by many auto industry plant closings in recent years.
"We've just got literally hundreds of good auto workers here that are out of work and would have been more than happy to at least put their application in over there," Representative Dennis Tyler, a Muncie Democrat who was among those signing the letter, told the news agency.
The lawmakers have requested a meeting with the development organisations's CEO Nathan Feltman to discuss the practice of "granting state incentives to companies that selectively exclude certain Hoosiers from even applying for employment."
Agency spokesman Mitch Frazier told AP it had received the letter and planned to respond to the legislators.
The news agency said that state offered Honda more than $US24m in tax credits and training grants to build the $550m plant in Greensburg, which will make Civics from autumn 2008, while the area around the factory also will receive several million dollars in locally funded road and infrastructure improvements.
In exchange for the incentives, Indiana asked only that Honda hired Hoosiers [state residents], Jane Jankowski, a spokeswoman for state governor Mitch Daniels told the Associated Press. But she said state officials had no plans "to prescribe hiring practices to private companies."
According to AP, Honda officials have said they imposed the 20-county limit because they want workers to live no more than an hour's drive from the factory but a long commute "does not seem like a legitimate concern," the legislators' letter said.
The Associated Press noted that over 30,000 people have applied online for the roughly 2,000 jobs Honda is offering at the factory with hiring set to start early next year.