“I worked for Johnson Controls in Detroit for 16.5 years. I lost my job with them in 2005 and have been homeless ever since. I did not take their buy-out because I did not want to lose my pension, which will pay out more than the $50,000 they were offering to other employees. The problem is, I will not get it until I turn 62. Today I am 47 and there are no jobs here.”
A pension is a payment made during a workers retirement. It is made from an investment fund to which contributions were made by an employer or employee during their working career.
Since 2001, Michigan as a whole has lost around 150,000 manufacturing jobs, according to a 2014 article in The Social Contract Press. In Detroit, Johnson Controls, Inc. was contracted as an automotive supplier for numerous companies. Between 2004 and 2009, the company had to close 11 plants and cut numerous jobs due to a lack of manufacturing progress in not only Michigan, but across the country.
As this man continued to talk to me the snow continued to fall. I could not imagine being homeless in Michigan during the cold winter months.
“However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse." -Henry David Thoreau