wage situation on my way
main assemble employer
glory supplier plant (3)
lay off fire (2) shut down
scared provide unemployed
tip (3) literally inaugurate
barrel cracker present (3)
blame plus (2) depend on
partly area (3) surrounded
loss max out comfortable
vote promise long been
hope union (2) according to
God struggle unemployment
rate cut (2) assistance
gain pour (2) find comfort
argue tough (3) give up on
decline place (2) population
glory abandon marginalize



Video: Laid Off from GM



I’m on my way to Youngstown, Ohio. The city of sixty-five thousand (65,000) hugely depends on General Motors. GM has long been the main employer here, creating jobs at their assembly plant, and with nearby suppliers.

But the glory days are in the past.

For years, GM has been firing people. Now the company wants to shut down its plant altogether.

I’m meeting Tommy Wolikow: he’s one of the workers recently laid off by GM. Since then the father of three daughters has been unemployed.

Tommy Wolikow, Worked at GM for nine Years: “We’re really scared. How are we going to provide for our kids? Just being able to provide Christmas presents this year, I had to literally max out my credit cards.

How are we going to get money? She’s a waitress at ‘Cracker Barrel’. She only makes $4.15 an hour, plus tips. And she’s the only one working right now.”

Tommy partly blames Donald Trump for his situation.

Tommy Wolikow, Worked at GM for nine Years: “President Trump came to our area. And he said to us, ‘Don’t sell your homes. Jobs are going to be pouring back in.’ I’ve seen nothing but job loss since President Trump has been inaugurated.”

Just like Tommy, many workers believed in Trump’s promises, and voted for him in 2016.

Now, not the president, but God is their last hope.

According to the workers’ union, for every job cut at GM in Youngstown, another seven are lost in local businesses.

David Green, President, Workers Union, Local 1112: “Youngstown already was rated, just a few days ago an article came out, the highest unemployment in the state, so people here are going to be struggling.

They are going to live on government assistance, and try to get jobs that pay less than a living wage.”

At home surrounded by his family, Tommy finds comfort.

But there are moments when their difficult situation gets to them.

Tommy Wolikow, Worked at GM for nine Years: “And it does cause us to argue, and it does cause us to fight.

But at the same time, we’re still here, and I’m not going anywhere.

And you?”

Mrs. Wolikow: “No.”

It’s been a tough time here, for me, at the GM plant. The people in Lordstown don’t want to give up their hopes and homes.

But the truth is, the city’s economy and population has been declining for years.

If no other big employer takes General Motor’s place, this town could soon be abandoned, yet another American city moving from industrial glory to marginalization.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *


1. Youngstown has a very diverse economic base. Is this true or false?

2. Has the city’s fortunes changed over the years? Was there a “Golden Age” for the tow?

3. What is the major problem for the townspeople and the town itself? Did this come about suddenly or gradually over the years? What happened to Tommy?

4. The people feel casual, nonchalant and laid-back about their situation. Is this right or wrong?

5. Is everyone in his family unemployed? Is this a good, steady, well-paid job?

6. The GM employees have great faith and confidence in the US president. Is this correct or incorrect?

7. In Youngstown, only lazy, uneducated, unskilled people are having a hard time. Yes or no?

8. What have been the demographic trends of Youngstown?


A. What is the situation in your city? Is it similar to, different or the complete opposite of Youngstown? Are there place in your country with a plight similar to Youngstown?

B. Why has this been happening to Youngstown? What might happen to Youngstown in the future? Are there different scenarios?

C. Should the government do anything?

D. What should the townspeople do?

E. Is there a lesson (for students and young people)?


Comments are closed.