The Akron Beacon-Journal reports that the Steelworkers Union has requested that the White House investigate a research partnership between the University of Akron and an Akron-based subsidiary (A3T LLC)of a major Chinese company in the area of polymers and tires. The Steelworkers represent many of the hourly employees of U.S. tire companies and are concerned about the potential for American research results to fall into the hands of foreign competitors. The University of Akron does in fact have one of the nation’s leading polymer research facilities, but it generally welcomes the opportunity to share its results widely. The Beacon-Journal article quoted the University as stating:
As home to the nation’s largest and most successful polymer research center, we see it as part of our job to help create jobs in Northeast Ohio, an area of the country hit hard by today’s challenging economy.
Partnerships, alliances and collaborations and a myriad of other forms of linkages and connections are another means to helping students, faculty and the entire community to compete and succeed.
The selection of Akron as the U.S. Headquarters for Triangle Group, one of the largest Chinese tire makers, was originally hailed as an important victory for Akron, and an opportunity for additional high-quality jobs. The agreement between Triangle and the University was reported as an example of the benefits to the community of international cooperation. Whether the Steelworkers’ call for an investigation will delay or destroy the opportunity for new jobs in the Akron area remains to be seen. There has, as yet, been no response from the White House to the request.