"The book captures the chaos of working-class America—from dropping out of school and precarious employment, to the partners and kids shuffled between homes, to chronic health issues and premature death," writes Aaron Renn.
Farah Stockman’s new book, American Made: What Happens to People When Work Disappears, documents the closure and relocation of an Indianapolis Rexnord bearing plant to Mexico and Texas. Stockman, a New York Times reporter, was assigned to cover the Rexnord plant after then-candidate Trump tweeted about its pending closure and the scheduled relocation of a nearby Carrier plant to Mexico in 2016.
The story of the Rexnord plant is an all-too-familiar one. Link-Belt, the original firm that built the bearing plant, was a byword for quality. The plant’s unionized workers took tremendous pride in the quality of their bearings—even after years of underinvestment meant that they worked with outdated production equipment. The plant was eventually acquired by Rexnord, whose management adopted a strategy of quality reduction, followed by relocation to Mexico and Texas. Stockman describes how machines were packed up and shipped to Mexico and the plant’s workers suffered the indignity of training their replacements from south of the border.
The whole affair rightfully drew Trump’s ire and national attention to Indianapolis. But it merely forms the backdrop to Stockman’s human-centered story about the social costs of offshoring and deindustrialization.