Tuesday, September 01, 2009

TV takes a rare look at a factory closing through eyes of its workers

It’s a rarity: a TV show that depicts an event through the eyes of workers. HBO does that in a new documentary called “The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant,” which airs Monday, September 7, at 9 pm EDT.

The plant closing took place in Moraine, Ohio, just two days before Christmas last year. “The Last Truck” views the final months of the plant -- and of the jobs of 2,500 workers and 200 management staff -- on up to the production of the very last truck.

The newly jobless recall poignant moments, such as the day workers had to remove their toolboxes and give up their GM ID cards. An HBO press release explains: “The GM workers lost more than jobs, including the pride they share in their work and the camaraderie built through the years. To the natives of Moraine and the greater Dayton area, General Motors wasn’t just a car company – it was the lifeblood of the community."

For a toolmaker, Pope Eye, the closing means the end of the good life, the end of a manufacturing era as we know it. “My grandson will have a worse life than I had,” he says at a bar near the plant.

While the film focuses on Moraine, Ohio, the tragedy it describes is typical of what has happened in many hundreds of American communities. Between 2001 and 2008, some 40,000 manufacturing plants were closed in the United States, resulting in the lose of millions of family-supporting jobs, not just in the plants themselves but in the surrounding communities.

For more details, check the AFL-CIO Blog.

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