My cousin was on the front page news the other day in a story called Homecoming at GM in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, there was also a story at STLToday titled “Exiled in Kansas: Former Wentzville GM Workers Yearn For Home”, maybe some of you local readers read it. This was really on my heart the last few days so I wanted to share the story with you in hopes that you might share it with others.
I’m sure many of you remember this big crisis in 2008 when everyone was scared that the automobile industry would just die. In 2009 GM took a bailout to stave off bankruptcy. My cousin and many other workers saw Chrysler and and Ford shut down at two other St. Louis sites and felt they knew what was coming. Wentzville GM sidelined 975 workers and cut everything down to one shift. That’s when GM decided to give them an offer.
“the choice GM offered them seemed like a no-brainer. The company offered workers a $30,000 bonus to move to Fairfax and commit to three years; or they could take $4,800, commit to only six months, and retain their seniority rights in Wentzville, should openings occur.” – STLToday
Thinking that the Wentzille plant would shut down as all the others did, my cousin and a few hundred others decided to take up GM on their offer to go to Fairfax for three years. They thought that if things got better they could go back home, then they found out through the newspaper that Wentzville was re-hiring workers to replace them. My cousin thought he’d finally get to come back home to his family this Christmas, only to find that he is stuck (with over 200 others) in Kansas.
This is what actually happened with the offer:
Unfortunately unemployment is not an option. We keep our jobs in K.C., Quit, or be Fired. Also those that took that six month deal were stuck in K.C. for 2 yrs. They were screwed too. There was no good offer on the table. Get paid for 6 months but stay 2yrs or get paid for 3 yrs and stay 3 yrs. however skilled trades were allowed to break the 3 yrs. and Mngmnt. has returned home.
The money is nothing! We have offered to pay money back and we aren’t even given a second look. We just want our lives and our families back. – Ryan Anderson
Most of these workers are depressed, they miss their families. My cousin’s children miss their dad. It’s not like he can uproot his entire home and family (a wife who also works) and ship them over to Fairfax. What happens when that contract runs out? Then they’re far away from everyone and everything they’ve ever known, without jobs. Our family has lived in this area for generations, ever since my Grandma and Grampa moved here in the latter 40s. It’s all some of our family has ever known.
“One GM transfer, hit by a drunk driver as he rushed home to see his son in a sporting event, in fact lost his life earlier this year.” – STLToday
My cousin only asked me to share this story so that people would read it, people with hearts and families like we do and share this story so that maybe someone will listen. Their jobs are being replaced in one area while their contracts are almost up in another. They’re in limbo hours away from their homes and families and I can’t imagine how scary that is.
My heart goes out to all the workers left in Kansas. I hope you get to see your families soon.