Farah Stockman discusses her book American Made: Learn what happens to people when work disappears.
The west side of Indianapolis was once the home of a world-class bearing factory. A company called Link-Belt built the factory in 1959 to produce bearings that made all kinds of machines run smoothly, and the company proclaimed that it produced “the Cadillac of bearings.”
But by 2017, the factory had aged and Rexnord, its corporate owner, announced that it would be moving operations to Mexico and laying off some 300 unionized workers. For many of these workers, Link Belt was far more than a job—it was a way of life and a fundamental element of their identity.
The closing of the Link Belt plant attracted national attention when the newly elected President Donald Trump tweeted out “No more.” While this didn’t change things at Link Belt, it caused the editors of the New York Times to dispatch Pulitzer-winning author Farah Stockman to visit Indianapolis to cover the story. Stockman turned this assignment into a new book, American Made: Learn what happens to people when work disappears. In the book, she focuses on the lives of three workers at the plant in particular. But the story she tells goes far beyond this plant and these workers and has a lot to say about race, class, how the economy works, and the importance of jobs in people’s lives. We are lucky to have Ms. Stockman with us this morning.