The road to the White House leads through Ohio, where some Democrat frontrunners hope radical new policy prescriptions can turn voters away from Trump.
Tim Caudill presses his rough hands together to keep warm during the ﬁrst cold morning of October. Ohio just lost its blue autumn sky to steel clouds and drizzle, so he and his fellow union workers, striking outside a General Motors factory on the industrial outskirts of Cleveland, brought extra flannel layers and toss logs into a barrel ﬁre. Ask Caudill why they’re striking, and he’ll point across the street, to another auto parts manufacturer: “That place right there does a lot of our work.” GM is outsourcing more and more instead of training new employees, offloading full-time hours onto temporary workers with no beneﬁts, he explains. Pensions have been frozen for years. Factories are closing. Thousands have lost their jobs.
Caudill has witnessed the company’s collapse in real time. He worked for over two decades at GM’s factory in Mansﬁeld, 130 km south, until the company shut it down during the 2009 recession. He was 45 with two kids. When the company offered a position here, he accepted, unwilling to sell his 83-acre horse farm near Mansﬁeld. Now, after a 90-minute commute each morning, he ﬁnds most of his work outsourced anyway, with just three young apprentices to learn from hundreds of retirement-age workers—an omen for the dismal future of this Cleveland site, whose days are likely numbered.
“It’s kinda depressing for me to see that much trades work leaving our plants,” he says, looking down at the concrete. “I’m third-generation General Motors. My grandfather retired from Mansﬁeld; my dad retired from Mansﬁeld. I had three uncles who retired from there. My brother took the buyout when they closed Mansﬁeld. So I’ve been involved in the union and General Motors all my life. My dad started in ’56. My dad can hand that down to me, and I don’t see that being handed down to the next generation.” Is he sad about the family heritage ending with his impending retirement? “I didn’t want my kids working for this General Motors, because I didn’t see a big future. It’s just—it’s sad, but in 20 years, I don’t see General Motors building cars in the United States.”