From CNN, one of my hometowns is going under, thanks to the closing of the final GM plant. There weren’t many jobs left when I lived there more’n a decade ago (which is what prompted me to leave in the first place), now there will be even less.
The folks working at Jamestown Industries’ Moraine Plant 2 near Dayton, Ohio, have the weary, haunted look of terminally ill patients, only it’s their livelihoods that are about to die.
Tony Murphy says the closing of General Motors’ Moraine, Ohio, assembly plant will have widespread effects.
Jamestown Moraine warehouses prepare and deliver parts to the General Motors Moraine Assembly truck plant. When the GM plant closes for good on December 23, so will Jamestown Moraine. Sixty-four people will lose their jobs at the supplier, the last of a workforce that once numbered 200.
GM Moraine Assembly once employed about 5,000 people, churning out Chevrolet Trailblazer, GMC Envoy and even Saab SUVs. About 1,000 will clock out for the last time next month.
Thousands more worked for small suppliers in the Dayton area for whom GM was the only customer.
“I’ve got the house I’ve got to pay for. I’ve got the car payment, I’ve got clothes and I’ve got to give the dog a little food — and you throw in kids? It’s bad for everybody,” said Tony Murphy, a foreman who operates a forklift at Jamestown Moraine.
Murphy said he knows the pain goes well beyond his own family and even his own hometown.
“It’s going to be a big ripple effect on everyone,” he said, “because when they first closed the first two shifts down, it was devastating then, but this, right here, will seal the nail on the coffin.
“Not only is it going to affect where I work, it’s going to affect retail. It’s going to affect the mom-and-pop shops. It’s even going to affect people all the way up in Michigan because they bring those parts that are sent over there to GM,” he said. See the breadth of GM’s supply chain »
Leaders of GM, as well as Ford and Chrysler, are lobbying Congress for $25 billion in assistance to stave off bankruptcy. Without federal help, they say, the pain of Moraine could be repeated across the country.
But even if Congress acts, Moraine is done two days before Christmas. GM announced its closure — along with plants in Janesville, Wisconsin; Oshawa, Ontario; and Toluca, Mexico — in June.
Anticipating unemployment, Kevin Howard, Murphy’s co-worker, said he’s cutting his own hair, skipping dental checkups, brown-bagging leftovers for lunch and wearing $5 T-shirts instead of sturdier work clothes. He said he used to wear a gold earring, but he sold it to raise cash.
Unemployment compensation is about 50 percent less than workers’ regular pay, and Howard said COBRA health insurance is beyond his means.
“All it takes is about two weeks falling behind, and I’m in debt. And a month — I’m really in debt,” said Howard, 55, whose children, grandchildren and mother depend on his soon-to-disappear income. “I’m a diabetic. I don’t know where I’m going to get my medicine after this.”
Moraine is the only GM plant in the United States represented by a union other than the United Auto Workers. Its legacy as a former Frigidaire appliance factory puts its workers, along with its suppliers’ workers, in an electrical union, the IUE-CWA.
GM employees received buyouts of as much as $140,000, but suppliers’ employees get no compensation when they’re cut loose, said Kaine Goodwin, the business manager for IUE Local 755 in Dayton.
“We get no severance pay, and they’re not going to bail us out,” said Howard, his voice rising and eyes widening. “Somebody should bail us out. We’re the ones suffering. … We don’t have a dime. We’re gone. Goodbye.”