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Blake Noble

The Mississippi Press: "GM plant towns struggle with losses"

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MORAINE, Ohio (AP) — The General Motors Corp. plant in this Dayton suburb is a forest of smokestacks that form the nerve center of this industrial community built along the banks of the Great Miami River.

Each day, about 2,500 workers file inside to assemble the GMC Envoy, Chevrolet Trailblazer, Saab 9-7X and Isuzu Ascender sport utility vehicles.

But some time before the summer of 2010, the Moraine plant will be no more: It is one of four that GM announced Tuesday it will close. And there are fears here that the people — and the city's fortunes — will disappear with it.

The loss of the SUV plant will leave behind a bleak landscape for the surrounding community, an area scarred by a dwindling population, high poverty rates and one of the nation's hardest-hit pockets of the housing slump.

"It's going to be a ghost town," said Debbie Miller, 52, who owns The Upper Deck, a restaurant and bar next to the plant. "There are no jobs here. I don't know what they're going to do."

The plant closings are casualties of surging fuel prices that are hastening a dramatic shift to smaller vehicles. The 10,000 jobs at the four plants — here, in Janesville, Wis., and in Canada and Mexico — will be lost.

"There are going to be a lot of houses for sale," said Miller, born and raised in the area. "We'll see people leave this area. This is a dying town."

Once, the Dayton area was dotted with so many auto factories that it came to be likened to a small-scale Detroit.

Delphi Corp., an auto supplier trying to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, has five plants in the area, all already hit by layoffs or buyouts. GM also operates a separate engine plant here that employs about 1,000 people.

But the plant closure nearly marks the end of GM's dominance in a town that once housed five of the auto maker's presidents in the late 1960s, said John Heitmann, a history professor at University of Dayton.

"Next to Detroit and Flint, this was number three," Heitmann said of the Dayton area. "That's a lot of power. This was a great GM town."

Heitmann said he had thought the area's skilled labor pool and favorable geography would entice the automaker to keep the plant open, but its future was ultimately doomed by what he called an outmoded product — the fuel-guzzling SUV.

"The future of Dayton is certainly not in the auto industry anymore," Heitmann said of the number of jobs in the region's auto production and auto parts industries. "We're kind of an historical relic."

The commercial strip in this town of 6,700 people is dominated by fast-food restaurants, transmission shops and office buildings with "for lease" signs tacked in front.

Community services that are already struggling, like groceries, will probably face more strain now, said Rhine McLin, the mayor of next-door Dayton, where the poverty rate of nearly 30 percent is more than twice the state average.

"There's no way you can sugarcoat that," McLin said. "We're already in a recession, and it's difficult, and this just adds to it."

The outlook is brighter in Janesville, a city of about 63,000 near Milwaukee that has diversified and no longer counts GM as its biggest employer. But the plant closure will still sting.

"It's going to have a devastating effect, but not as bad as if GM had pulled the plug 20 or 30 years ago," said Gary Green, professor of rural sociology and director of the Center for Community and Economic Development at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The announcement of the plant closing in Toluca, Mexico, was a blow to the industrial hub tucked into the mountains outside of Mexico City. The factory was one of the main employers in a city where many people work in manufacturing and farming.

"The news hit us like a bucket of cold water," said Edgar Arroyo, a leader of the union at the Toluca General Motors plant, who said that about 4,500 people work at the factory west of Mexico City. "It's going to affect us all."

And at the GM plant for pickup trucks and SUVs in Oshawa, Ontario, Randall Carswell, a 24-year veteran of the factory, said he had seen a lot of changes in his time, but none quite like this.

"I have never seen such a drastic slam, so fast, and everybody fall so hard, so quick," he said, worrying about how he will support his five children now or pay his bills.

Here in Moraine, GM workers bring in about half of the business at Miller's restaurant, an orange brick building with a green awning stretching over the front.

On Tuesday, as waitresses mopped tables and filled red plastic glasses with ice, Miller closed her eyes and rolled her head back.

"If the local people don't support us and our food by keeping us here, then I don't know what we'll do," she said.

Gaylen Turner, president of Moraine's local International Union of Electronic Workers-Communications Workers, which represents the plant's workers, said he's not giving up on the plant.

"It's not optimistic, but I plan on staying around and continuing that fight as best I can," said Turner, who is 53 and has worked at the plant for 28 years.

At least one political scientist, William Binning of Youngstown State University, suggested the news could even be a blow to Republican Sen. John McCain's hopes of winning the White House by underscoring the weak economy.

"I'm not saying McCain can't win Ohio but it's a bad environment because of the economic malaise," he said.

As for what will become of the remaining workers, Heitmann predicted they will have few options, all distasteful: Leave town, or accept a lower standard of living. Unless another automaker sweeps in and decides to build a new plant, the jobs simply won't exist.

"Many of these workers have extended families here," Heitmann said. "You just can't pack up all of your things in a trailer and drive down to Texas and start over."

http://www.gulflive.com/newsflash/national...rylist=national

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A special thanks for this article goes out to the following people: The UAW and everyone driving a foreign car. And the democratic controlled U.S. congress for blocking ALL U.S. oil exploration at a time when oil is over $126 a barrel, keeping us reliant on foreign oil. Hate Bush all you want - but this is 100% true. The Democrats are killing this country and blaming it on Bush - yes, he is part of the problem, but look deeper. Pelosi and her cronies are blocking us from our oil. Started under Clinton and has just been re-voted on to block us again. If Gas was $2.00 a gallon, these people would not be loosing thier jobs as demand for trucks would still be high.

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Yeah. It's the Democrats. Weakly in power for 1 year and they have everything to do with it. Pelosi and Reed don't have a backbone right now to stand up for anything. And the Republicans have filibustered EVERY f@#kING BILL that might help. Two years ago if the Democrats DARED to filibuster anything, it was "unamerican" and "treasonist" and "subverting justice". Jackass.

Read up on the Gingrich Revolution and his Contract on America (oh, I mean "for" America) and tell me who has REALLY been in power since 1995.

Oil is finite. Time to move on. A few hundred million barrels in Alaska will not change that fact. China and India will burn through that in a matter of a year.

I can't stand the bull$h! talk around here anymore. Guess what? $h! has changed. The world has changed. Evolve or die. Oh wait, you all are probably blaming all this on rational, godless heathens too, so you sure as hell don't believe in evolution.

Goodnight and goodluck.

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http://www.newsmax.com/hostetter/anwr_oil_...5/14/96049.html

OR

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Publ...15/104oiivq.asp

Blame who you want...here are two news stories written by a conservative paper and another by a liberal paper. Dig up Gingrich and call me a war monger, knuckle dragging, anti-muslim anti-extremist all you f-ing want to. Read it in black and white and then re-write your post. Otherwise STFU!

the Democrats only fillibustered the appointing of Judges or other appointees that they deemed not-liberal enough. Stop listening to CNN and Fox news and the other idiots and do some research on your own!

Both sides are far from innocent in any of this, but when it comes to energy policy here in the US, the dems only block progress and do not provide any alternatives that can get us out of the mess we are in.

Edited by toesuf94
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http://www.newsmax.com/hostetter/anwr_oil_...5/14/96049.html

OR

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Publ...15/104oiivq.asp

Blame who you want...here are two news stories written by a conservative paper and another by a liberal paper. Dig up Gingrich and call me a war monger, knuckle dragging, anti-muslim anti-extremist all you f-ing want to. Read it in black and white and then re-write your post. Otherwise STFU!

the Democrats only fillibustered the appointing of Judges or other appointees that they deemed not-liberal enough. Stop listening to CNN and Fox news and the other idiots and do some research on your own!

Both sides are far from innocent in any of this, but when it comes to energy policy here in the US, the dems only block progress and do not provide any alternatives that can get us out of the mess we are in.

Whatever.... the conservatives are full of sh*t, and with an oilman in the White House the last 7 years (an incompetent one at that), the neocons are in bed with the corrupt oil companies...

Edited by moltar
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I'm done arguing with someone who pushes "NewsMax" or "Weekly Standard" as a "liberal" source. Both are self professed "conservative" sources.

You have no idea what you are talking about. And it shows.

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A special thanks for this article goes out to the following people: The UAW and everyone driving a foreign car. And the democratic controlled U.S. congress for blocking ALL U.S. oil exploration at a time when oil is over $126 a barrel, keeping us reliant on foreign oil. Hate Bush all you want - but this is 100% true. The Democrats are killing this country and blaming it on Bush - yes, he is part of the problem, but look deeper. Pelosi and her cronies are blocking us from our oil. Started under Clinton and has just been re-voted on to block us again. If Gas was $2.00 a gallon, these people would not be loosing thier jobs as demand for trucks would still be high.

right. this has all to do with the supply of oil and nothing to do with speculators driving up the cost, lack of refining capacity. and it sure has nothing to do with the simple mechanism that since oil is traded in USD, the lower it goes, the higher oil prices go.

fact is, there is tons of oil, so supply of crude is far from the problem

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I'm done arguing with someone who pushes "NewsMax" or "Weekly Standard" as a "liberal" source. Both are self professed "conservative" sources.

You have no idea what you are talking about. And it shows.

Yes, along with Fox News..all right wing neocon-biased nonsense...

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Oil's coming down, so people can stop freaking out. It takes 10 years to get from exploration to the refinery anyway.

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I think something that would have a more direct effect would be the US Strategic Oil Reserve, which the President has the power to cut weekly, I think we take something like 60 million or 60 billion barrels of oil for it. Using the Reserve is something talked about by the Democratic Congress, but only the President does have the power to do it. It would help if the Democrats started getting the nerve and using the right arguments against Republicans, especially when everything is so tilted in thier favor. instead they're the nice guy

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A special thanks for this article goes out to the following people: The UAW and everyone driving a foreign car. And the democratic controlled U.S. congress for blocking ALL U.S. oil exploration at a time when oil is over $126 a barrel, keeping us reliant on foreign oil. Hate Bush all you want - but this is 100% true. The Democrats are killing this country and blaming it on Bush - yes, he is part of the problem, but look deeper. Pelosi and her cronies are blocking us from our oil. Started under Clinton and has just been re-voted on to block us again. If Gas was $2.00 a gallon, these people would not be loosing thier jobs as demand for trucks would still be high.

But Bush is blocking cheaper, more efficient Brazilian E-85 technology, too. There are many culprits in this sad affair.

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