A small town in southeastern Minnesota is preparing to lose 80 well-paying factory jobs that produce gear used by Major League Baseball players.
According to CBS News, Miken Sports is leaving Caledonia, with a population of about 2,900, to produce MLB batting helmets in the state of Missouri and softball bats in China.
Miken is owned by the sporting goods company Rawlings, which itself is owned by Major League Baseball and Seidler Equity Partners. The founder of the latter, Peter Seidler, is the chairman of the San Diego Padres and the team’s largest stakeholder.
Rawlings will reportedly save four to 10 million dollars per year with the closure.
Not only are Caledonia residents upset to hear about the outsourcing of good factory jobs, they are bothered by the fact that Major League Baseball could have been involved in the decision.
“That’s infuriating … it’s America’s game,” bar and restaurant owner Sarah Glasrud told CBS News.
“I thought they’d have more respect for the United States and small America, who supports all their baseball teams,” said DeWayne Schroeder, mayor of Caledonia. “I think they’re going to lose a lot of fans.”
The report says that prior to the pandemic, the Miken factory employed around 150 people. Now the payroll is currently down to 80 — and will soon be zero.
Glasrud said Miken employees account for 25 percent of the business at her establishment.
“It was difficult before the pandemic hit, so it’s going to be even more difficult now. It’s not a good thing,” she said.
Major League Baseball insists it was not involved in the outsourcing decision, telling CBS News that it “does not have a role in the day to day business operations of Rawlings.”
“The sole MLB product made in this facility will continue to be manufactured in the United States as are all MLB batting helmets, on-field uniforms and hats,” a spokesman said.
Sen. Tina Smith of Minnesota, who in July had written a letter to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and Seidler Equity Partners expressing her “outrage” and “concern” about the closure of the Miken factory, tweeted on Tuesday that “MLB is hoping everyone stays quiet about this outrage. Let’s show them that won’t work. Tell MLB and [the] Padres to stop outsourcing US jobs to China.”
— Senator Tina Smith (@SenTinaSmith) September 7, 2021
In her July letter, Sen. Smith wrote that the closing of the Miken factory would “erase a key point of pride for the local community” and leave the town of Caledonia “without a key employer and economic contributor.”
“This type of transaction, in which wealthy private equity investors buy longstanding U.S. companies only to shut down American plants and move jobs overseas has left countless Midwest communities devastated while wealthy private equity investors reap a larger and larger share of our country’s income and wealth. It’s time that this practice comes to an end,” she said.