Broken Promises: How Trump Betrayed Ohio’s Autoworkers - Trump Made A Pledge To The Workers Of The Lordstown Plant That He Could Save Their Jobs & Their City, Instead, The Massive Auto Plant Shuttered & 4,500 Were Left Unemployed
“I Was Looking At Some Of Those Big, Once-Incredible, Job-Producing Factories And Melania Said, ‘What Happened?’ I Said, “Those Jobs Have Left Ohio, But They’re All Coming Back. Don’t Move. Don’t Sell Your House.” - President Trump/2017
(LORDSTOWN, OHIO) - Dan Aurilio’s seven-year-old son, Landon, is home from school. He hits a plastic ball with a plastic bat and looks across his Fort Wayne, Indiana, cul-de-sac toward the house across the street. “His one friend in the neighborhood lives there,” says Aurilio, a proud Italian-American son of Youngstown, Ohio. A minute later, the neighbor’s garage door falls and so does Aurilio’s face, in solidarity with his boy. “Oh, man, he’s going to have a ‘bad’ afternoon.” Aurilio looks out at Landon and the fields surrounding his new house in this strange town. “He had ‘so many friends back home,’” he says. “The first night here, I was awake and just kept thinking, ‘What the hell did I do to my family?’ ”
After spending almost his entire life in Ohio, Aurilio now works at General Motors’ (GM) Fort Wayne GM Assembly Plant moving heavy parts to the line for the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra.
At the end of the day, he’s logged eight to nine miles on his pedometer.
He works 50 to 60 hours a week, taking as much overtime as he can while still being a good Dad and husband.
“You ‘always have to save for rain,’” says Aurilio, a sturdy 48-year-old man with a shaved head.
“It’s ‘always going to rain,’” he said.
This wasn’t Aurilio’s plan.
He was raised in McDonald, near Youngstown, a small town filled with flags and neighbors sharing cook-on-the-stove lasagna with friends down the street.
Aurilio was happy.
Sure, his Dad objected when he went to work at GM’s Lordstown Plant in 2000, when he was 27.
“Dad worked there for (31) years ‘and hated every minute of it,’” he says.
But it was a good job with benefits, building small cars for Chevrolet - first the Cavalier, then the Cobalt, and finally the Cruze.
If you’ve ever driven through Ohio on Interstate 80, you know where Aurilio worked.
For years, there was a Jumbotron-size billboard of the Cruze just off of the tollway, with a parking lot for 4,500 Employees.
That’s all gone now.
Not that the factory was perfect.
Lordstown had no air conditioning, and in the hot, humid Ohio Summers the temperature on the assembly line could easily hit 100 degrees.
The factory had been the center of Labor unrest and Wildcat Strikes in the 1970s and it sometimes seemed like management still held a grudge.
The work was good, until it wasn’t.
The auto industry was cruelly cyclical and Aurilio would lose shifts when the economy tanked or gas was cheap and everyone bought SUVs.
There were ghost stories about how the plant was going to close almost every year, but in 2016 it was still here.
“When I started working there, people asked me ‘why I didn’t go to work at one of the steel mills,’” recalls Aurilio. “Then ‘they all closed down and I thought I was the smart one.’”
He laughs sadly: “I was for a while.”
Then Donald Trump got elected.
Trump had a lot of support among the Lordstown workforce, and Aurilio remembers a Co-Worker coming in the day after the election with his arms over his head, shouting: “Trump, Trump!”
Not coincidentally, that morning GM eliminated one of the shifts at Lordstown, Aurilio saw the guy again.
“How’s Trump working out for you?,” he asked.
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