There comes a time in everyone’s life when they should take a stand on something. Everyone should take a position on at least one important issue, whether it is a popular or unpopular stance. An issue that needs to be discussed more here in the United States is the expatriation of jobs, in particular those professions that are nearing extinction in the manufacturing sector. This is why the story of Jim Doyle, an ex-mill worker in Buford, South Carolina needs to be told. Jim was working steadily at the job one day when his name was called over the plant’s loud speaker.
“‘Jim Doyle, please report to the personnel office immediately”‘ the office secretary said
Jim was not concerned; he figured that it was just like any other situation he’d dealt with at the plant, the personnel department probably wanted Jim to train a new employee. Jim had worked at the plant for thirty-five years and he was always the first guy they called to educate the rookies. Jim casually made his way to the personnel office, however when Jim got there the news he received was not anticipated.
“‘Hey Jim, could you sit down for a minute?”‘ said Earl Hobbs, director of personnel.
“‘Sure Earl, what’s up buddy?”‘
Earl began to tear up a little bit, he really has to constrain himself from all out balling, he has a real glum look on his face as he finally begins to answer Jim’s question.
“‘Jim, there’s no easy way to say this. We’ve known each other for a long time, but we’re going to have to let you go”‘
Jim sits there stunned with nothing to say as the tears begin to flow, he tries to be professional despite the circumstances.
“‘How could this happen? I’ve been here for thirty!”‘
“Relocation Jim, we’re moving your job to Central America, Venezuela to be more specific.”‘
“‘Doesn’t loyalty for anything anymore Earl?”‘
“Sorry Jim, cutbacks are cutbacks. The company can make more money with guys like you no longer working for them. It’s a matter of economics Jim, experienced workers such as yourself call for twelve dollar an hour minimum and a major benefits package. Some fella’ down in Venezuela is willing to work for a two dollar a day and a sacked lunch.”‘
“‘Yeah, but what about the quality of the product Earl? I try to be as humble as I can, but you and I both know that I’m one of the best workers in the company and that there’s no way some fellow down in Venezuela can make a corduroy pocket better then I can”‘
“The company doesn’t care about quality Jim. They care about making the optimum, maximum amount of pocket that they can for as cheaply as they can. It’s a global economy Jim, that means the entire globe is involved in enterprise nowadays. It’s all about competition and survival, you either play the game and ship the jobs where they need to be or the competitor will instead. Then that way the company can stay in business.””
“‘I understand all that Earl, but it’s about integrity too. It’s about being honest to your employees because they’ve been honest to you. I’m not an economist, I only graduated high school, but I do know a little about open markets, but I’m talking about right and wrong here Earl, and what the jerks in the suits are doing to me and people like me is wrong!”‘
“There’s nothing I can do Jim. I’m just as outraged about these dirty tricks that the big wigs are pulling on the working man as you are”‘
“‘What about starting a union? If we line workers drew up a contract to ask the company to agree to, would the union save my job?”‘
“‘Unions won’t waste their time in a right-to-work state. Too many roadblocks in their way to begin with. Plus the fact that South Carolina has the second lowest union membership in the country, unions typecast everybody in the state and assume everybody here must be anti-organized labor”‘
“What about you Earl? Did you stick up for me? You know what it’s like on the assembly line, heck I was the one who gave you that glowing recommendation so you could get that promotion to work in the personnel department.”‘
“Sorry buddy, there’s nothing I can do for you. Call your Congressman or if you’re that upset contact your Senator, maybe they can find a job placement program for you.”‘
Jim doesn’t say anything, just sits there bewildered then he gathers himself and resolutely walks outside leaving the plant. Jim gets in his care, begins to drive hone knowing his wife June would be there to console him about his bad run of luck today.
Jim is so angered he doesn’t know what to do, he pulls over to a payphone and decides he’ll Earl up on his advise and call Senator DeMint’s office. Unfortunately for Jim, the distinguished Senator and DeMint’s staff were very little help to him. You see, Senator DeMint unequivocally supports the way free trade deals are currently negotiated in this country and even supported the Central American Free Trade Agreement, the very agreement that cost Jim his job in a sense and dispatched it to Venezuela. In fact, Mr. DeMint even speech one day about how manufacturing sector workers should “‘stop whining”‘ about job losses due to free trade agreements. It makes people like Jim Doyle wonder if Senator DeMint would whine or not if his job was shipped overseas.
Jim gets off the phone with DeMint’s office, more aggravated than he was before he dialed the number. Jim begin once again to drive home, however as he is headed home his wife June is not there. June is currently sitting in a doctor’s office, at her annual checkup thinking it will be just another laborious trip to the doctor’s office. Unfortunately for June, the doctor has found something abnormal while going through June’s test results.
Dr. Stevens, June’s physician walks into the room and one more quick glimpse at some of the tests before she talks to June.
“‘Mrs. Doyle, I don’t want you to overreact, but I did find some abnormalities in your examination results.”
“‘What is it? Did I do something wrong with my diet? I can change my diet you know.”‘
“‘No, no you’ve been staying on top of that there’s no imbalance in your nourishment, it’s the fact that I found a spot on your lung that or may not cancerous.”‘
“‘Are you sure doctor?”‘
“Well, to be earnest with you, I’m not sure what exactly the spot is, but that’s why I want you to undergo further tests.”‘
June begins to weep, she gets up and thanks the doctor as the doctor says she can go home for the day and to schedule an appointment with a specialist in two weeks to go through those additional tests.
As June gets in her car all she can think about is how thankful she is that Jim still has that extensive healthcare package that he’s earned over those thirty-five that he’s worked at the plant. As she arrives at the Doyle home she sees Jim’s truck in the garage and begins to ponder what he is doing so early. She walks in the door and sees Jim sitting on the couch with that somber look on his face.
They begin to tell each other about the dismal today they have had, they hug each other and begin to suppurate uncontrollably. Will the Doyle’s ever find the strength to quote Senator DeMint to “‘stop whining?”‘