Monday, November 24, 2008

JOE Wollaceski's worst nightmare finally came true . . .

By l.t. Dravis

SMALL TOWN OHIO, Monday, September 24, 2008 – When 44 year old Doug Jones (not his real name) got his check last Friday, it was three times the normal amount.

You know how it is when you get your paycheck; even though you know it’ll be the same old amount, you kind of hope there’ll be more there just this once . . . and if there was more, you’d be happy . . . real happy!

But not Doug.

Not at all.

His check included two weeks’ severance pay.

After nineteen years as an equipment operator for Wollaceski Underground Contractors, Inc. (not the real company name), Doug ran a Wollaceski CAT 375 track-type excavator for the last time Friday morning, backfilling a repaired water line for the county.

Joe Wollaceski, founder of the company that bears his name, is a bear of a man. Six feet four, two hundred and fifty pounds, he resembles former Vice-President Al Gore. He’s a 57 year old who succeeded where so many fail by out-working and out-smarting his competition in the rough and tumble construction business. “I don’t see how we get out of this mess,” Joe says with a shake of his head. “Nobody has cash, nobody can borrow, and nobody knows what to do about it. We give Bush and Paulson $700 billion, they give half of it away, yet banks are still failing and nobody’s lending. So, where did all that money go? My guy who sweeps the shop coulda handled it better than those boneheads!”

Wollaceski knows exactly where he is and why. “We’re shutting down after 32 years mainly because of the car business,” he says. “GM, Ford, and Chrysler lay off workers, those folks stop spending, and we lose sales tax revenues, plus income tax. And then, the businesses that rely on car worker wages have to lay off and those folks stop spending and we lose more sales tax revenues and income tax and, pretty soon, the city, county, and state cut back on construction projects. Since banks aren’t lending, there are no more commercial and residential developments to bid on, so guys like me get forced out of business.

“It’s going to be tough for my people to find good jobs. They’re used to making fifteen-twenty bucks an hour and more and they been getting good benefits; there aren’t many businesses left in Ohio that can afford to pay a living wage and give good benefits.”

The Wollaceski Underground Contractors shutdown kills 34 jobs, takes a $1,700,000.00 annual payroll out of the local economy, cancels the lease on a ten thousand square foot building on a half acre, and dooms the CAT 375 and 11 other backhoes, tractors, and compactors, plus 4 Kenworth T810 dump trucks, 6 Ford F250 jobsite pick-ups, batches of tools, barricades, safety equipment, a complete lubrication system, several compressors, storage racks, office furniture, computers, monitors, and a GMC tractor/low boy trailer to be liquidated at auction.

Doug and his wife, Elizabeth (not her real name), have three children under the age of 17, and are worried about when, if ever, he’ll find another job that pays as well and provides the benefits they got from WUC. “There’s nothing here in Ohio,” Doug says with a defeated tone. “Me and Liz talked about moving to California or Texas where I might find work, but we’re upside down on our house and we can’t sell right now. So, we’re stuck. Can’t live on unemployment so if I don’t find work soon, we’ll have to rent out the house and move in with Liz’s folks up in Cleveland.”

The manager of ‘Sandi’s’, a popular family restaurant a block from Wollaceski’s yard, says, “We’re not seeing regulars like we used to. Friday and Saturday nights are about half of what they were even six months ago. I know Doug and Elizabeth Jones and their three kids. Used to see them here probably three Friday nights and maybe two Saturday nights a month and we’d see them just about every Sunday after church . . . but not now. Not since we heard Joe Wollaceski was shutting down.”

“What kills me,” Wollaceski says, “is that, after all the money and power we gave Bush and Cheney over eight years, they’re leaving us with the largest deficit ever, the biggest national debt in history, a failed banking system, an economy in the worst shape since the depression, and two wars that are bleeding us dry.

“Those two geniuses screwed up the economy so bad that millions of skilled workers who’ve been making forty, fifty thousand a year will be forced to take minimum wage jobs at fast-food joints and places like Wal-Mart and give up their homes, cars, and their futures.

“So, besides making my worst nightmare come true, what have Dick Cheney and George W. Bush ever done for me or my people?

“Nothing,” he says, answering his own question with a sardonic smile, “absolutely nothing.”

Copyright © 2008 by LTD Associates West, Ltd. All rights reserved.

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