Mattoon's GE lighting plant employed close to 2000 employees in the late 1970's. Today, (2019) the factory looks like a ghost town. I was a 20 year employee there. Beginning in 1981 we all began seeing huge departments in the plant being boarded up, and a steady line of layoffs began, as well as retirees not being replaced. Occasionally GE would hire some employees who were called
" temporary." The atmosphere on the plant manufacturing floor was always tense. It was not unusual for both husbands and wives to be employed there, as well as other family members. Early on, my husband and I decided that we would consciously choose to not work in the same plant, in case one of us lost their job. Little did we know, that although we both worked for different factories, we both lost our jobs due to plant closings. When we started our factory careers we could realistically believe that together we could earn and maintain a solid
Middle Class lifestyle. This dream is no longer true, and probably never will be again for factory workers in the USA. Today Mattoon is an old railroad town, which morphed into a factory town. Most of the railroad and factory jobs are gone now, and like the railroad " roundhouse," will not be coming back, so sad 😭!!! Mattoon has lost about 8% of its population, and we have 5 major big low income housing projects. We have a very high percentage of our school students on the free or low cost lunch program. Churches are providing lunches for students out of the school for the summer. ( a free or reduced lunch often was the only daily meal some children have). Our mall has had empty store fronts for years. Recently, Rural King opened a large store there, I feel sure that will help, but can it save the town ? Our children and grandchildren must go to college or some sort of specialized training. There are no more " lifetime jobs." Our children and grandchildren will likely not live near us, they must go where they can find work. Illinois is reportedly losing about 38,000
people a year who must leave this state to find work. Many of the people leaving this area, and even some staying are living, at least for the near future in travel trailers or campers. It is not unusual in Coles County, Illinois to see a camper or even 2 campers parked in a relatives drive or yard for at least a short term solution to a housing problem. I could go on, but I think I will just go...
Really good post from @OIbhVj9-alrde that needed to be on top.