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Protesters will be gathering today at 1pm in Camden, outside of Holtec, as a response to racist and classist statements made by the CEO about Camden residents. Holtec is a manufacturer of nuclear reactors that was awarded a $250 million tax break. George Norcross sits on the Holtec board; as a State Senator, Don Norcross supported the Economic Redevelopment Act (2013) that awarded the tax breaks.
Holtec Protest & Press Conference
When: TODAY 1pm
Where: 1 Holtec Drive, Camden, New Jersey
Read the statement from South Jersey Women for Progressive Change
More info here.
The idea behind the tax credits leans heavily on “trickle down economics:” first bring in large companies, give them tax incentives, and (…*insert magical thinking*…) Camden prospers! Of course none of the huge, highly profitable, politically well-connected corporations who will benefit from these massive tax breaks are in any way required to hire residents, but this expectation was kind-of assumed to at least show a good faith effort to justify the massive public expense.
But this flimsy façade fell a bit this week, as Holtec’s CEO complained about residents’ work habits and drug habits and every other lazy generalization about an entire city, as an excuse for why his factory was not making as much money anymore, and why he was going to fully embrace automation. Congressman Norcross echoed the statements, comparing the residents to children and agreeing he had seen the same problems when he was active in the Union. It was appalling in every sense. All of these statements were rattled off as fact, taken at face value, without any double-checking or hearing from the residents who work there. The word in Camden, at least, (and on Indeed.com) is that the company is not a good place to work and feels more than a little racially biased.
If there is any silver lining in this mess, it is that the community in South Jersey and Camden has responded loudly and assertively that this is not OK. First, South Jersey Women for Progressive Change issued a statement condemning the remarks. Then Camden Mayor Frank Moran (who is probably getting his wrist slapped at this very moment for speaking out) issued a statement demanding an apology. Various Camden organizers have been active on social media, and are the force behind today’s protest. It is a rare show of solidarity between suburban folks and Camden folks, political “insiders” and activists. Let’s hope it’s a turning point in how Holtec and other companies benefitting from taxpayer investment (American Water, Subaru, Conner Strong and Buckelew…) treat Camden residents. Let’s also hope it’s a turning point in South Jersey activism. Maybe we ALL aren’t going to take it anymore.