It was bound to happen that UAW workers at Chrysler would face the same layoff prospects as their brothers and sisters at GM and Ford. Last week there was news that 13,000 Chrysler employees will be laid off in the upcoming weeks and to make matters worse this news was given to Chrysler workers on Valentines Day. Now tens of thousands of additional families will be faced with the prospect of either early retirement or polishing up their resumes and hitting the streets in search of new employment.
The very idea of change is difficult at any age, but for people that have worked for one employer for decades it can be life changing. The world has changed so much in the past ten to twenty years that some people will find it impossible to change careers because their learning curve has fallen too far behind. Most people use computers, at home, in their everyday life. However, there is a huge difference in the home use of a PC and older workers finding a new job and being expected to work quickly in an office environment.
I feel badly for these 13,000 families at Chrysler, in the same way I felt bad when the same thing happened at General Motors and Ford. I believe Ford Motor Company has made enough positive changes in their business plan to eventually get back to profitability, but as of yet I am more uncertain about the prospect of GM. There was a rumor late last week that GM might try to purchase Chrysler. I doubt that idea has much merit because GM is still trying to save itself from bankruptcy.
People around the world are facing more new challenges and choices today than ever before when it comes to their careers. The world is changing fast and old careers that provided the foundation and backbone for communities across the country are now fading away never to return. Many years ago when steelworkers were losing their jobs right and left because of cheap imports, I didn’t pay that close of attention to their plight. However, I now know that my indifference to the suffering of those families was wrong and I am not going to make that same mistake twice.
Almost every expert says that a worldwide economy will eventually be a good thing for the United States. While this might be true, there will be tremendous pain in the process and some people will get left completely behind and fade away from public view. I still have hope that Detroit’s big three will find a way to survive, but most certainly their salvation will come with a huge price of lost jobs and destroyed families in the process.
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