Plastic bag manufacturing employees: Who's representing us?

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By Mike Thom

We’re in the throes of another end to a legislative session. Unfortunately, an end to unemployment or this stagnant economy is not as near in sight. I’m not a person to normally engage in politics. I’m simply a local plant manager for Advance Polybag, Inc., a grocery bag manufacturer in Elkridge. I’m also a resident of Maryland.

There’s currently a bill before the Maryland State Legislature to tax grocery bags at five cents each at the checkout – forcing shoppers to pay the tax or to purchase reusable bags at the store. That five cents will definitely add up, and be a burden for consumers.

It seems that one of the issues lost in the media’s debate over the proposed grocery bag tax is the effect it will have on my 140 co-workers in Elkridge. Each day, we come to work to make a product that people use, that people re-use, and that is recyclable. We are doing our part to support our families through an economy where the cost of goods keeps rising, and finding a new job is still difficult. We enjoy bantering about how our kids are doing in school, or how their soccer teams fared over the weekend. We are there for each other when we’ve had a loss, and celebrate new births, engagements, weddings and milestone birthdays together.

We are your average working Marylanders trying to make ends meet. You would think the working people of Maryland would be a focal point of discussion in a policy debate that threatens local job layoffs. Unfortunately, in all the discourse about the potential for a five cent tax on grocery bags in Maryland, nobody in Annapolis is standing up for the workers at our facility.

If passed, this tax will accomplish two things: punish consumers who themselves are trying to save as much money as possible when grocery shopping for their families; and risk Advance Polybag having to lay off workers as demand decreases for our product.

Maryland’s lawmakers should think about us, about our families and those who depend on us 140 plant workers for support. Finding a new job won’t be easy in this economy should we face layoffs. We in Elkridge are all hoping that common sense leads the day and that our representatives do away with the notion of this grocery bag tax as soon as possible.

Our jobs are depending on it. Our families are depending on it.

Mike Thom is plant manager at Advance Polybag, Inc., in Elkridge.
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