End of an Era 5



The other day I was complaining about our neighbors and their hot-tubbing parties. All right, it was an outright rant. But it’s been going on for 18 months, and it was 2 a.m.

Anyway, yesterday I saw this news article about the last truck rolling off GM’s truck plant in our town and wondered if this is why they felt it necessary to party so late into the night. Maybe it wasn’t a party so much as a wake. I know our neighbor works with GM, though I’m not sure if it’s with the truck plant or one of the car plants here in Oshawa. He’s gone through a few jobs with GM and its affiliates in the seven years we’ve lived here. When we moved in he told us how he had worked with GM but had been laid off so he retrained and was hired by Peregrine, a GM parts plant. Peregrine closed a few years back and GM rehired him. (That’s quite a common tale around here.) Is he back on the unemployment lines now? Shall I forgive him?

Only if the hot tub parties end at 11 p.m. and let Gizmo Guy and I sleep. I’m forgiving but I’m not THAT forgiving.

Our town has been hit hard – a couple months ago, the unemployment rolls swelled by 99%. Looks like they’ve just taken another hit. Considering I’ve got a son about to graduate from high school, it’s disheartening to tell him to look for a summer job when there are so many people out there looking for a job just to put food on the table. Makes me feel lucky.

GG has been laid off twice – once back on May 23, 2003. It came out of the blue, we had no warning. I will never forget the phone call at 8:05 a.m. and his stunned look when he hung up the phone. They’d laid off all their Canadian employees figuring they could send people from the States to do the jobs.

In over twenty years of working, he’d never not had a job. Working is his identity and taking that away from him was like stripping him naked and forcing him to walk down the street as Nelson Muntz yelled his famous “ha-ha”. We’d just bought our house 11 months before, and I was terrified we were going to lose it. Guitar Hero was about to graduate high school and his tuition to college was due in full in a month. We paid it anyway, not knowing if we were going to be homeless two months later. But we figured his education came first. It took another four months before things shook out and GG’s company hired him back. A little over a year later, that company was bought out by their competitor, and GG knew that, once again, the writing was on the wall. This time he had six months to prepare and found a new job. His new employers let him set his start date – which he arranged for six days after the old one ended so he’d get the buy-out package which has saved us since he had to accept a salary at 40% of what he was making. We now live in fear of him being laid off again since he’s now low-man on the totem pole and our savings are nearly wiped out.

I can’t say I’ve had a week go by where someone I know hasn’t posted on a loop or twittered that they or their husband had been laid off/made redundant. My heart goes out to people who are facing unemployment. It’s not fun. Here’s hoping the economy picks up soon. For all our sakes.


5 thoughts on “End of an Era

  • booklover1335

    Hi Leah,
    I so know where you are coming from. In the county that I live in the unemployment rate is over 20%, that’s one in five people that you meet that are umemployed. And what is worse is that the companies these people used to work for went out of business, as in no longer exists. So there is no rehiring when the times get better. I honestly don’t know what these families are going to do. After loosing their jobs, with new jobs beyond scarce, do they have a choice but to uproot their families? And if they do decide to do this, where do they go and how do they possibly find the money to start over?
    It’s really bad, and have to say that my mother is the only one that I know who has been affected (crossing my fingers), and is close enough to retirement that the severance package she was offered will carry her over to official retirement.
    That is why I love romances, they are an escape from the reality we must all endure on a daily basis. Please keep on writing!

  • Kathleen

    I am sure the mood was very somber in Oshawa and in all of Ontario yesterday as everyone watched this plant close down. I hope the goverment, GM and the unions are satisfied, because I blame all three. I am a not a lover of unions, because I think they have out done themselves with greed. Sure everyone wants fair wages and a nice benifit package, but in these days when the economy was in such dire straights I see no reason why these groups could not come to some agreement. I would rather have my job for the next number of years, than an extra few days off a year.
    So like I said I hope all three of these groups are satisfied.
    Sorry for getting on my soapbox. But it just burns me that people making this kind of money, and I know for a fact that autoworkers make or made a good wage each week.

  • Leah Braemel

    Kathleen – feel free to rant/get on your soapbox. I find it amazing that even as the truck plant closed down yesterday, the unions are still in negotiations with GM and have a deadline of midnight tonight. It’s as if they don’t ‘get it’. If GM (or Chrysler or Ford) goes out of business, what good is a contract? Your workers will still be out of a job, and the unions will not be able to collect all those union dues. Something’s got to give.

  • C R Ward

    I agree with Kathleen about unions. While I think the original intent of them was good (fair wages, fair benefits) I think the unions took it too far in their greed.

    I feel fortunate that I was accepted into the Second Career program before GM closed. I just hope the economy picks up again by the time I’m finished school.

    Second Career is a program sponsored by the government for laid off workers. It’s something GG might want to look into, I know there’s lots of courses available at Durham College.

  • Leah Braemel

    CR – GG doesn’t work with GM, it’s our neighbors who do. I think he’s already been through Second Careers as he retrained at Durham for the Peregrine job that he lost when they closed down. Looks like he’ll be looking for a Third Career.

    My youngest will be going to Durham next year, and my eldest a few years back. It’s a good school who stays in touch with the community.

Comments are closed.