Did you see this article in the LOCAL LIFE section of the rapidian? Check out this in depth look at the show that kicks off the 31st Season at Actors’ Theatre.
Former manufacturing employees shake off the “RUST”
Years after assembly plants close, the question of “so now what?” still lingers in Michigan. Stories of those affected are turned into a play by Austin Bunn, “RUST.”
Marty Green started his manufacturing career at the General Motors Metal Fabrication plant on 36th Street in Wyoming in 1985. Although he experienced some bumps along the way by way of short-lived layoffs, he still enjoyed his time at GM.
“The work ethic was great, and the plant was the number one low cost producer,” he said.
The two million square foot plant first opened its doors in 1936, and became one of GM’s most productive stamping plants before closing its doors after 73 years in 2009.
Marty worked for GM for 27 years. He was one of 1,500 from the plant that either retired, transferred or were laid off. He said the GM employees were very fortunate; many manufacturing workers in Grand Rapids were not as lucky.
During Marty’s time at the plant, the industry drastically changed. “Back then [in 1985], you are talking about 60% efficiency, so you had way more labor intensive work. Now, you are talking about 80-90% efficiency,” Marty said, referring to the mechanization of the assembly process. “If you go into an assembly plant now, it’s very few people. When you look at the size of the operation it’s very few people and robots everywhere.”
As the years went on, Marty noticed that the makeup of the plant became less and less local.
“We took in a lot of people from other plants. So as far as the plant was pure Grand Rapidians when we first started, by the time we closed there were a lot of transplants from other plants. I think every GM plant in the nation is seeing that. You’re not having your pure hometown workforce anymore.” (…)
Check out the rest of the article, on therapidian.org
Tickets for RUST are still available! Go to the Actors’ Theatre website for more information.