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UNITED AUTO WORKERS LOCAL 1977 - Monroe, Louisiana - Ouachita Parish - United  States - Earth

April 30, 2007  - It was on this day that the remaining hourly and salaried employees came and worked their last time for the Guide headlamp facility in Monroe Louisiana. I was fortunate enough to have been hired in June of 1975 and was allowed to complete almost 32 years here at the same facility.

It is with God's intervention and the United Auto Workers that I was fortunate enough to have worked in skilled trades before accepting a salaried position in supervision. Who knew that GM and Guide would pretty much abandon their salaried workforce. I must say that compared to others, my experiences here were somewhat unique.  I did so many different things, I thought for a while they were just trying to find something I could do. Computers became my forte' in the late 70's and since the mid '80's I had been programming industrial robots, computers, and programmable controllers. With the certain demise of the operation I decided in October last year to leave the salaried work force returning to hourly status. Having had a glimpse of both worlds, I would like to thank my fellow co-workers who helped to correct my mediocre workmanship and  state that the hourly workforce here was as good as if not better than any on this planet.

I will soon allow myself some time to explore the many and varied opportunities out and about but first I find myself paraphrasing "Jurassic Park" dialog (as  they were also) by saying that indeed we find it easy to stand on the shoulders of great individuals that have gone before us. I stand thanking the original Anderson Indiana workers that left their homes to come here and teach those of us that would listen, how to build headlamps. God rest the souls that have left before us, and Godspeed to those still kicking, as I look forward with much anticipation to the future. I also need to convey my appreciation and thanks to some folks hired locally as they too contributed to my longevity, the man I worked for over 25 years and also my lone 'partner in Grime', she knows who she is :)  May God bless them and I hope that they also enjoy their time away from Guide.

My understanding is that Guide Lamp as a corporate entity had been a contributing partner to the General Motors family for over 100 years. A proud heritage to be sure.

In 1906 General Motors purchased Guide Motor Lamp Company and moved them from Cleveland, OH. to join Delco Remy in Anderson, IN.  Guide Lamp Division resulted a year or so later and after a very long time, just after headlamps turned rectangular, the headlamp operation moved to Monroe, LA. and started operations in 1975. Years passed and Guide Lamp became Guide and then Guide became Fisher Guide as Fisher Body Division was dropped. The next phase of the name game in 1989 gave us Inland-Fisher-Guide as Inland Division became part of the merging. Next we became a part of DELPHI which then was a part of General Motors. GM began the process to spin DELPHI off and Delphi began the process to spin Guide off. (Note that even today (Dec 2009) if you look on the GM careers web site they list DELPHI as one of the companies you can apply to work for). Historian that I am, I looked through all my past pay check stubs and not one of then ever read DELPHI, they all had GM on them. Guess I'm still spinning. After the spinning, in 1998 Delphi got GM to pay Palladium Equity Partners to take us, after they marched several top managers through the mill and after they spent the GM money we were then passed off to the great GM turnaround specialist BBK (Bahadur). Guess I'm still turning....Understand of course, that this is an abridged version and I am relaying things the way I remember it. Funny, when GM was making money they never attributed any part of their success to us, but when they started losing, they were quick to point to all those who they thought were part of that. I remember the catch phrase at the time was, nothing concentrates the corporate mind more that losing x zillion dollars a day.

I wish I could put into words how we have been handled over the past few years. GM was so concerned about our ability to deal with change, they generated a mountain of propaganda for us to digest in learning to deal with our upcoming 'life change experience'. The powers that be massaged us with helpful and meaningful 'Town Hall' meetings to keep us abreast of what was happening. They vowed to keep us informed and in tune with every step.

We then were awakened a couple of years later to find that those same powers that be, now had no clue as to what was going to happen, didn't care what was going to happen, and suddenly, the GM that we were never to speak of again, had showed up on our doorstep telling the manufacturing force to turn off the equipment and leave quietly. They now had enough headlamps. This was midday Jan 13th of 2007. I stayed as part of the plant de-commissioning team.

Our plant closing agreement included lawyer speak such as our plant while built by GM, operated by GM, was SOLD by GM, Built product for GM, was really NOT GM. Strangely in these last days it was GM people who descended on us and  arranged for the auction of a 50 million dollar facility that as it turned out only netted 2 million dollars.  Of course the building is still for sell...maybe they'll get 48 million for it. (NEWSFLASH - Building SOLD 08-10-17 for an undisclosed price) (Now (2009) v-vehicle is renovating and adding on.) (NEWSFLASH #2 - Construction stop as of APRIL 1, 2010 because v-vehicle did not get their loan from the Gov't., alas they will continue to try...only now under new management and name [nextautoworks])

A business has been taken from us and it has been given to Canada and Mexico, Funny how Canada has content laws that say that cars built in Canada must have Canada headlamps, shame the US has no content legislature, apparently we have content law on medications as I can't buy Canadian prescriptions, (I digress) ..anyways, Our business wasn't the first, as such, it isn't the last. Someday they may find that no one is left here that can afford such products, for them I hope it was worthwhile, my bigger hope; however, is that businesses will someday return to our soil so that our children's children can have the advantages and standards of living that this generation has been so fortunate to enjoy. My prayer also is that the NEW GM (after bankruptcy) makes their promises to it's NEW employees actually come true, not the lies like that of the old GM.

It's been so long since that summer in 1975, that I don't remember all the items we buried in that time capsule. A lot of good people have come and gone, Good times and some not so good have transpired. I know that for each of us our last headlamp will burn in our memories for years to come and nothing can extinguish that.

.....George, 32 years older but not much wiser, has left the building.....

On March 1, 2010, all Delphi salaried retires had their pensions turned over to the (PBGC) Pension Board Guaranty Corporation - A US Government Agency - They then reduced the benefits paid by up to 40% on some retirees. They used a formula to calculate that I can't even understand.....
...Merry Christmas Guide Lamp Division  
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