Some 155 laid-off Maytag production workers in Newton begin this week out of work and with little hope for extra financial support from their union. The employees who’ve been with the company about eight years, worked their last day on Friday. U-A-W Local nine-nine-seven president Pat Teed says there’ve been over 300 other layoffs in the past year and that’s tapped out the union fund for laid-off workers. He says unemployment is about the only option for them.He says some of them will have extended health benefits, but he says the union’s supplemental unemployment fund is basically gone. He says the union will work with them to try and get some enrolled in college to be retrained. Teed says the union isn’t the only organization that’s seen the layoffs drain away its funds. He says the whole community, all the social programs, the safety nets are not funded. Maytag says the layoffs are needed to prevent a large build-up in inventory. Teed says there’s a lot of fear in Newton — like a big depression has hit the community. He says these people came in eight years ago and all they wanted for Christmas this year was a good job with benefits. He says they’re now faced with the pain and suffering and everything that goes along with it. Teed doesn’t put all the blame on Maytag, as he says foreign competition has made it tough for companies to succeed in the U.S. He says, “Maytag company has been a great, great company in America, and great for our community. But, they’re faced with their problems too.” He says they hope people will continue buying Maytag products, “and we’re still looking for a some kind of working class hero out there to turn this country around.” Teed says consumers should stop buying foreign products, because he says he feels that’s driving our nation down.
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