“The End is HERE�
“The End is HERE�
On the Last day there would be a potluck and a drawing for some free appliances and $100 in cash. It was clear, though, that those still around in September 2004 could hardly wait for this drawn-out shuttering finally to be over. Crews were taking down the lighting, removing tables and cabinets, and gathering screws and air gun bits to toss in the garbage. “I don’t know if they are going to start with fresh tools down there in Reynosa or what the deal is,” Tracy Warner said. The crews also asked workers to remove photographs and newspaper clippings from their workstations. “They are dismantling it all around us, like they can’t wait for us to get out of there.” The lawn outside, usually covered in pop cans, plastic wrappers, and cigarette butts, was cleaned up and sprayed green by Chem Lawn. Management was trying to sell the old place. Warner’s imminent layoff was part of a sea-change in Illinois in the first years of the new millennium. The pace of the hollowing out of manufacturing in the fourth-largest manufacturing state in the country had been unprecedented. From June 2000 to November 2003, Illinois lost more than 100 manufacturing jobs a day, or one out of every six. Gone were over 150,000 jobs in a state of 12,500,000. In Rockford, the machine-tool industry wilted, and unemployment spiked at over 11 percent. In Harvard, located near the Wisconsin border, Motorola closed its cellphone plant. Developers wanted to turn the site into the world’s largest indoor water park. In Peoria, Decatur, and Kankakee, laid-off workers applied for jobs at Walmarts and Home Depots that would pay them maybe half their former wage. In suburban Chicago, Winzeler Gear went from making 2 million gears a month with fifty-five workers to making 16 million a month with thirty-five employees. A robot the size of a minivan increased the factory’s output while also eliminating human labor. Even with the productivity boost, the owner doubted the company would be able to stay competitive.
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