Inside the Surging Rage at Trump in Midwest Factory Towns

Troy Mallott has worked his manufacturing job in Peru, Indiana, for 15 years. He planned to finish his career there. But now Mallott and his neighbors in Peru, a small city of around 11,000 residents, are bracing for the loss of the Schneider Electric production facility, the area’s largest employer that has operated since the…

Inside the Surging Rage at Trump in Midwest Factory Towns

Troy Mallott has worked his manufacturing job in Peru, Indiana, for 15 years. He planned to finish his career there. But now Mallott and his neighbors in Peru, a small city of around 11,000 residents, are bracing for the loss of the Schneider Electric production facility, the area’s largest employer that has operated since the early 1900s. In February, the French multi-billion dollar company announced plans to close in the city, with the final waves of layoffs planned throughout the next few months. The writing, as it so often is when it comes to Midwestern plant closings, was on the wall. In 2017 and 2018, the company reduced the plant’s workforce by 25 percent. The remaining 306 workers, who mostly produce electrical panel-boards, were expected to largely be left unemployed as production may be sent to either Monterey, Mexico, or other U.S. facilities. The closure has struck a chord in the traditionally conservative state in the wake of flamboyant promises from President Trump that companies would face consequences for offshoring jobs. In Miami County, where Peru is located, Trump won over 70 percent of the vote in 2016. No president could realistically halt a decades-long trend toward offshoring overnight, but facilities across the Midwest have continued to close and send jobs outside the United States despite hefty profits, lucrative federal contracts, and broad-based corporate tax cuts. On Monday morning, tens of thousands of General Motors workers went on strike when the UAW failed to cut a new deal with the company that made $2.4 billion in profit in just the second quarter of this year, and a key issue in play has been the potential reopening of an idled plant in Lordstown, Ohio. Now, some of the same conservative areas that carried Trump to the White House in 2016 partly on the promise that he would save their jobs are boiling over with anger at the very real ramifications of his ineffectiveness—and industrial realities that have been a long time coming. “Trump has really disappointed the State of Indiana and the City of Peru. He needs to come down here to see what’s going on,” Mallott said. “It’s going to kill the community. They’re just ruining so many lives here. So many lives. I thought I had a future here. It’s just wrong to do this to a community just to save a buck. That’s not what you do to people.” The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union, which represents the plant, said it offered various concessions in hopes of keeping the facility open—including cuts to wages, benefits, and tax cuts from the union and local municipalities—to no avail. “If you get federal aid from the
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