Workers at the Maytag plant in Newton say they’re stressed out by the uncertainty about the plant’s future — and whether the company’s sale will be approved by federal regulators. Pat Pendroy has worked at the plant for almost 13 and he says the company’s executives won’t tell workers much at all. “They’re keeping us in the dark and it’s ridiculous,” Pendroy says. “They’ve got to tell us something. We’ve got people quitting right now because they don’t know whether they’ve got a job or not.” Pendroy, who makes driers on the production line, says it would be better to know the plant’s shutting down rather than deal with the uncertainty. “The stress is getting to the point where it ain’t worth staying there,” Pendroy says. “It weighs on you pretty heavy.” His wife says Pendroy brings that stress home daily. “He comes home all upset or (talking about) what the rumor is for today,” she says. “It’s hard on us as a family, you know, do you go on vacation or do you save the money?” Gary Thompson, a tool and die maker at the Newton plant, has worked there for 18-and-a-half years. “People are worried for their jobs. They’re worried for their future,” Thompson says. “There just seems to be a mentality of squeezing middle class and working people out.” Thompson says Maytag’s heritage is being sacrificed because of corporate greed. “People are outraged at the looting in New Orleans and they should be, but people should also be outraged at the looting that corporate America and I think our government is doing to working people in the middle class,” Thompson says. “It’s just as devastating.” Carla Thompson, his wife, says the financial stress is affecting their family life. They’ve been trying to help their youngest daughter pay for college, but may have to rely on more college loans.”We’re facing that right now and just trying to kind of plan for the future — we really don’t know what it is, but cutting corners where we can,” she says. “It’s kind of sad, you’re in your middle age, you’re in your mid-40s and then all of a sudden you’re having this hit you. It’s when life should start coasting and so it’s just really different. It’s like being young and poor again.” Governor Tom Vilsack has asked federal regulators to decide as quickly as possible whether Whirlpool’s offer to buy Maytag violates anti-monopoly laws, or can go through, just to resolve that issue and remove that “cloud” of uncertainty.
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