General Motors, the "new" General Motors, is out and about these days trying to convince institutional investors that the post-bankruptcy carmaker is worth buying into when it issues stock later this month. The road show for GM involves private jet rides, five-star hotels and a return to fattened expense accounts at top-rated restaurants. Meantime, a much less sexy selling process is going on at "Old GM," the skeletal remains of the company that went through bankruptcy last year. Assembly and stamping plants GM jettisoned are being auctioned off piece by piece around the Midwest in the biggest industrial garage sale ever. The auctions, whose lunch menu consists of hotdogs and coffee in foam cups, are attracting big business, as well as old GM veterans visiting their past.
On Nov. 5, the auctioneer's hammer was dropping hundreds of times at Pontiac East Assembly in the city of Pontiac, Mich. The massive 3.4 million square foot plant constructed in 1972 was turning out Chevy and GMC pickup trucks until the summer of 2009. Over 1000 workers were furloughed in July of last year, and during their hiatus it was determined the plant would close for good with pickup assembly consolidated at GM's Fort Wayne, Ind., plant.
Auctioning Off an Era
As GM closes a string of fifteen facilities, it is hard not to see the passing of an era. It's not that auto assembly is vanishing from the U.S.: There are still plants in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana getting new investment from GM, Ford and Chrysler. And Asian and European carmakers have opened, and continue to open, plants in the South. But the Midwest has clearly lost the scale of auto manufacturing that built up Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana before and after World War II. And lost with that scale are the jobs and the vibrancy of local culture in Michigan towns like Pontiac and Flint and Janesville, Wis.
Hmm...I thought the auto bailotus were to save jobs for the common worker, not the jetsetting executive....Hmmm...guess Dems aren't really for the little guy after all, are they?