CAW Youth Impacted By Lay-offs
April 18, 2008
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Lay-offs in the auto and manufacturing sector are leaving young workers out a job, and facing a future with more questions than answers. At the CAMI plant, the latest round of lay offs brought the total to 470 workers as the midnight shift was closed down. Most of the people that have been laid off are in their 20s and 30s. They got together at a special breakfast at the CAW Local 88 hall after their final shift. It was a chance for them to say good bye and look ahead.
"This is our little CAMI family and now we are all going through a divorce right now. Seriously!"
Many of the young workers are already paying off student loans and mortgages. Going back to school isn't an easy answer.
"I don't think I would want to take a chance to go back to school and after finishing it three or five years down the road, saying well you know the market has changed so much, my degree doesn't really mean anything again because it might be over-saturated with people who are finishing with the same thing that I am."
"Does anyone have an idea what they want to do, besides school?"
"I have a mortgage. I have to pay the bills so I'll be going back to construction. I'll be slugging steel pipe around and climbing water towers."
"I have been offered a job for a skill I have but it is for $300 a week. Like that is a day's pay. That is a real slap in the face."
CAMI plant chair Mike Van Boekel is hoping the lay offs won't last long.
Mike Van Boekel
CAMI Plant Chair
"Hopefully everybody is back within a year. Our plant is re-tooling so I would like to think that it is not a normal layoff. However time will tell depending on the orders."
For many of the youth waiting is not the answer.
"You've done automotive how many years now? Are you going to go back into it while it is such a volatile market?"
"How are you going to make the decision to switch careers? Are you going to be able to make this kind of money in something new? Even if you go to university or go to college or whatever it might be can you actually make like $70,000 a year?"
"Not to start but maybe eventually, but not to start."
While the young workers are looking for answers to the future, CAW Local 88 president Cathy Austin says the union is trying to maintain contact with the youth.
Pres. CAW Local 88
"We had very, very active groups of young people in this local. They got involved very quickly in a youth committee. And were just very active and eager in the union and with them leaving they are going to leave a big void of energy, enthusiasm and their good ideas and things. We're hoping to keep them involved, keep their education going, but they are going to be missed absolutely."
CAW "Fighting Back Makes a Difference."