Maytag <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/26/national/26MAYT.html">announced today</a> that it's Galesburg, Illinois refrigerator plant will be closing its doors and moving its operations to Mexico. Citing increasing competition from rivals moving operations to developing countries, Maytag argues that it is being forced into the move to stay in business: William Beer, president of Maytag's appliance division, said Maytag executives were mindful of the human cost. 'We deeply regret that we couldn't identify a cost-effective solution that would allow us to continue long-term production of refrigerators in Galesburg,' Mr. Beer said. The Maytag workers are fuming about the North American Free Trade Agreement, about Maytag's embrace of low-cost labor south of the border and about politicians who trumpet the benefits of free trade. 'This is heartbreaking,' said Aaron Kemp, a Maytag worker who attaches door hinges. 'This is one of the most unpatriotic, most un-American things I can imagine a company doing. They want Americans to buy their products, but they don't want to put Americans to work making those products.' Like many small towns, the economy of Galesburg is highly dependent on the plant both directly in the terms of the number of residents that Maytag employs, and indirectly in the demand for auxillary industries which supported the plant. Operating costs for Maytag are expected to drop from paying an hourly wage of about $15.14, to about $2.00.