Immersion journalism about what happens to an automobile-manufacturing plant after it closes.
Freelance journalist Clemens (Made in Detroit: A South of 8 Mile Memoir, 2005) has seen Detroit thrive and then decline since his birth in 1973. The sites of automobile plants that used to employ thousands of proud workers now sit empty. After the Budd Company auto-parts stamping plant closed in 2006, the author decided to investigate why it closed and what became of the gigantic building afterward. It was no surprise that many of the automobile parts manufactured at the Detroit factory for nearly 100 years would be produced in a Mexican city by cheap labor. However, some of the author’s findings were surprising: Heavy machinery from the closed Detroit plant would be trucked to Mexico—plus automobile parts factories in other nations—to perform the same functions as before, while Detroit laborers drew unemployment checks from the state of Michigan and perhaps the U.S. government. When Clemens saw the machinery at work in Aguascalientes, Mexico, he felt the bitter irony of watching the machinery from the Budd plant—which had been located between two Chrysler automotive factories in Detroit—stamping parts in a foreign nation for none other than Chrysler’s Dodge Journey line. Throughout the narrative, the author proves to be a keen, tireless observer, and he provides vivid portrayals of the many recurring characters from the dismantling crew, many of them skilled itinerants.
On-the-ground, compelling stories about the decline of an American city and industry due to corporate greed.