St. Louis memory and early retirements
Posted in the Chrysler Forum
#1 Sep 1, 2011
Even as he works two jobs, ex-Chrysler worker still has faith in American Dream Share25
By Mary Delach Leonard, Beacon staff
Posted 10:40 am Fri., 8.26.11
The site of the former Chrysler plant in Fenton has been nearly emptied, the iconic water tower and vehicle assembly factories razed by liquidators over the past two years, as they prepare these 295 acres for development.
The site even has a new name now -- the Fenton 44 Center -- suitable for "a manufacturing plant, business park, corporate headquarters, retail development, medical facility, educational campus or religious institution," according to NAI DESCO, the real estate company that has listed the property.
Photo by Mary Delach Leonard | Beacon staff
A granite marker sits at the base of an old Chrysler plant flagpole, which now stands at Circle of Concern food pantry.
But the Ballwin Metro West Rotary salvaged at least one memorable artifact that has been reinstalled outside the Circle of Concern food pantry in nearby Valley Park: one of the plant's three giant flagpoles.
Since October, an American flag has waved proudly once more from the white 40-foot pole, while a granite marker at its base acknowledges the past.
"This flagpole previously stood before the Chrysler plant in Fenton," reads the inscription. "Here it honors those who have served their community and their country."
The flagpole is a way to honor the half-century of accomplishments of local autoworkers at the Fenton plant, said Glenn Koenen, executive director of Circle of Concern.
Sadly, the pantry now assists about two dozen former Chrysler workers and their families.
"The Chrysler workers had a tremendous work ethic," Koenen said. "They had good work histories, but some only had a high school education. And they're in their 40s and 50s, and that's making it harder for them to find good full-time jobs."
Koenen said that some who seek help have found work as independent contractors, or in retail stores, or auto repair, but the jobs don't pay what Chrysler did.
"And they were used to that stable middle-class lifestyle that a Chrysler paycheck gave them," he said.
Middle class and out of groceries
Last winter, Chris Paplanus, 54, who was one of more than 3,000 St. Louis autoworkers still working at Fenton in 2008 when the shutdowns began, found himself doing something he never thought he would do: He went to the Salvation Army food pantry in O'Fallon, Mo., for help.
Paplanus, who took an early retirement package from Chrysler, was between jobs and had run out of resources, he said. But he only sought assistance because his wife made him do it.
"Going to the food pantry and asking for help was very difficult," he said. "It goes against everything that I believe -- everything that my parents taught me."
Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.| For the Beacon
Chris Paplanus volunteers at the food pantry that helped his family when they needed it.
In return, he began volunteering at the pantry.
"If I'm going to ask for help, I'd like to be able to earn it," he said. "Since I wasn't working at the time, I went in every day. I think it's something that you should do. It keeps you grounded. Things can always be better, and things can always be worse. But it's also really good for your heart. It's really good to know that you're making a little of a difference."
Now employed full time, Paplanus still helps at the pantry at least once a month, though he stressed that his contribution is minor compared to how hard the other volunteers there work.
Paplanus, who has since found work at Wainright Industries in St. Peters and supplements his income with umpiring, says he is still surviving as a middle-class
#2 Sep 1, 2011
There is more to this article, I was not able to get the e-address. You can find the whole article from The St. Louis Beacon
#3 Sep 14, 2011
FENTON, Mo.(AP) A new study suggests that the closing of the two Chrysler plants in St. Louis County had a devastating impact on the region's economy.
Chrysler made trucks and minivans at two plants in Fenton until those plants were closed in 2008 and 2009.
The study released Tuesday by the St. Louis County Economic Council says nearly 6,400 jobs were lost at the two plants, 2,500 jobs were lost at suppliers to Chrysler and 43,000 direct and indirect jobs were lost throughout the St. Louis region.
The report prepared by the consultant AECOM says the economic impact on the region amounted to $15 billion.
The closing of the plants marked the first time in nearly half a century that cars were not manufactured in St. Louis County.
#4 Oct 7, 2012
Obama keeps bragging about bringing back the auto industry. That doesn't have much impact with the people of Fenton, Mo and surrounding areas.
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