It’s not if, but when Maytag is leaving

It’s not if, but when Maytag is leaving
Date March 16, 2005
Section(s) Opinion
To the Editor:

I found Mr. Hussmann’s City Beat column very interesting. In regard to Jean Morgan’s comments about Maytag, I’m surprised that anyone was surprised. Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel the general consensus in Newton is Maytag is leaving Newton, it’s just a question of when.

If Maytag receives any news coverage, it is usually negative. All we hear from Ralph Hake is we have to cut costs. The Newton plant is too expensive with overhead, wages and benefits. …

Correct me if I’m wrong but Maytag signed a four-year contract agreement with the UAW where both parties agreed to the current plan of wages and benefits. Now (Maytag) wants to hammer on retirees’ benefits. It would be nice to see executives spend 30 years (or more) of their life in a factory; 30 years of breathing dust, dirt, chemicals and other debris. Thirty years later your back is probably bad, your knees are probably shot from concrete floors (and now we wear comfortable, mandatory, metatarsal steel-toed work boots). You probably have carpal tunnel and many other health problems. We’ve gotten the good out of you for 30 years, but now you are too expensive to take care of in retirement.

No one ever releases a statement that is complimentary to the workforce at Maytag. Every cost that we have ever helped cut is never revealed to the public. Once a year the employees get a barbecue pork sandwich, chips and pop for their safety record and that makes all of them feel a whole lot better (Not!).

It has always been rumored that the city of Newton discouraged any other industry from coming to Newton. That rumor was based on the (perception) that Newton catered strictly to Maytag and Maytag wanted no competition for city control, wages or employment selection. If that has been true in the past, it has really come back to haunt us. Reap what you sow.

So many people seem surprised about the track actually coming to Newton. Look around the area and think back over the last five years. How many road improvements have already been made in the area surrounding the track location? Roads have been widened, paved and new wide, heavy duty bridges have been installed. Coincidence? I don’t think so. When will the city officially announce the exit that will be put in on East 12th Street South?

I personally am not against the track. Actually I’m excited. If it is managed properly and used year round as projected, I am one who believes that this could do great things for Newton.

I do have great sympathy for the property owners near the site of the track. My wife and I live in the country for the same reasons I’m sure these homeowners do — privacy, peace and quiet and no close neighbors. To me, that is the biggest drawback of the entire project.

Mr. Hussmann mentioned Kansas City and Cabella’s. When will the truth ever come out about all of the rumors a year or two ago about Cabella’s looking into building at Colfax? If it was true and Jasper County lost them, shame on us.

When Fred Maytag decided to build a factory in Newton, was he met with so much controversy and skepticism?

Bob Richardson



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