Monday, October 10, 2005

The news? Hey, I'm still numb from before

The headlines today trumpet the catastrophic and potentially catastrophic, the effect of it is to:

a) remind of us of that terrible things happen and often happen in a hurry ("Earthquake rocks Pakistan, 30,000 feared dead") and/or

b) terrify us into a semi-perpetual catatonic state ("Experts fear bird flu pandemic")?

Most of us are still so shocked by the images and screwups surrounding Katrina that our human empathy meters are waggling somewhere below where they should be, not to mention are charity. And the bird flu? That's still on the horizon; we'll wait and see what happens, although I'm not so sure that's a good idea.

What matters to most of us in the U.S. of A. (and this is where we get to the landscape angle) is our day-to-day well-being, i. e. our livlihoods. The announcement this past week that Delphi, the biggest automotive supplier in the world, filed for bankruptcy hit my neighborhood real hard. Our local Delphi plant is the third largest employer in the tri-county area. The plant opened in 1947 and for all the years since has paid its hourly workforce pretty nice wages and benefits. I know; I worked there for 10 months after my undergrad days and Delphi, in effect, paid for our first child, Amy. Had I stayed there instead of bolting for a $90-a-week job as a police beat reporter, I would be retired and drawing a generous GM pension (at least until Delphia can beat the UAW into submission) as are some of my friends. But, back to the main point of this post.

If Delphi is successful in getting the UAW to drastically rachet back workers' salaries and retirees' health care costs or, worse yet, close the local plant, it's going to hurt real bad. Gone will be about 1,100 local jobs that pay great salaries. That means that a lot of my friends and family are going to be cutting back big time. Meaning, I don't see a lot of growth or new opportunity for the landscape and lawn care companies in my neighborhood.

On a scale of human misery, this ranks way way below earthquakes, hurricanes and flu pandemics, but it's the news and, in this case, it's local.

— Ron Hall

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