Amidst much fanfare, President Obama shook hands with workers at the July 15, 2010 ground breaking ceremony for the LG Chem plant in Holland, Michigan, built with a $150 million grant from the Department of Energy as part of his 2009 "Stimulus" package. The plant, owned by a Korean company, was supposed to manufacture batteries to be used in electric Chevrolet Volt, the latest offering from the government owned General Motors corporation bailed out by President Obama with billions of taxpayers dollars.
To an enthralled crowd that included then Governor of Michigan Jennifer Granholm, executives of the Korean company that own the plant, and hundreds of hopeful factory workers, President Obama made a bold promise that day:
"This is a symbol of where Michigan is going, this is a symbol of where Holland is going, and this is a symbol of where America's going."
However, the Holland plant's performance hasn't lived up to the performance promised by President Obama on that windy Michigan day more than two years ago.
An investigative report by WOOD TV in Holland, Michigan revealed on Thursday that workers at the LG Chem plant haven't shipped a single battery yet because there's no demand. People just aren't buying Chevy Volts. Because they have no work to do at the plant, many of them are playing cards on the job:
Workers at LG Chem, a $300 million lithium-ion battery plant heavily funded by taxpayers, tell Target 8 that they have so little work to do that they spend hours playing cards and board games, reading magazines or watching movies.
They say it's been going on for months.
"There would be up to 40 of us that would just sit in there during the day," said former LG Chem employee Nicole Merryman, who said she quit in May.
"We were given assignments to go outside and clean; if we weren't cleaning outside, we were cleaning inside. If there was nothing for us to do, we would study in the cafeteria, or we would sit and play cards, sit and read magazines," said Merryman. "It's really sad that all these people are sitting there and doing nothing, and it's basically on taxpayer money."
Two current employees told Target 8 that the game-playing continues because, as much as they want to work, they still have nothing to do.
"There's a whole bunch of people, a whole bunch," filling their time with card games and board games," one of those current employees said.
"There's no work, no work at all. Zero work," another current employee said. "It is what it is. What do you do when there's no work?"
At the 2010 groundbreaking, President Obama seemed pleased to promote one of the few "Stimulus" projects he thought at the time was actually "shovel ready":
"Government can’t generate the jobs or growth we need by itself. But what government can do is lay a foundation for small businesses to expand and to hire. For entrepreneurs to open shops and test new products.For workers to get the training they need for the jobs of the 21st century...
"For years you’ve been hearing about manufacturing jobs disappearing overseas.You are leading the way to show how manufacturing jobs are coming right back here to the United States of America…
"The workers at this plant already slated to produce batteries for the new Chevy Volt learned the other day they’re also going to be supplying batteries for the new electric Ford Focus as soon as this operation gears up. That means by 2012 the batteries will be manufactured here in Holland Michigan."
But like most of the Obama administration's "Clean Energy" projects, none of the promises President Obama made about LG Chem's production plans came true. As a supplier of batteries for the electric powered Chevrolet Volt, LG Chem has learned that its customer -- government owned General Motors -- simply doesn't need its batteries because there is virtually no consumer demand for Chevy Volts.
It's 2012, and LG Chem has yet to ship its first battery for the Chevy Volt or any other electric car.