Until you've worked in Chicago, you have no idea how bad the manufacturing climate is, including labor relations. I've done 80%+ of my work in two places: Indiana and Chicago. The mindset in Chicago is "f*** you this is how it works and we ain't gonna change it", while the mindset in Indiana is "how can we help?". It's like night and day. I have never had to deal with antagonizing union-employer relations in Indiana, while it's commonplace in the Chicago area. I can't say I blame them for wanting to quit Lagrange. I literally grew up in a Indiana factory and the guys there were the best. Not so much in Chicago. Stuff gets stolen or vandalized regularly in an us-vs.-them game.
If you look at Chicago, heavy industry has left in droves over the last thirty years. Literally they've walked away from billion dollar investments like US Steel South Works, USS Joliet, Acme Steel, Wisconsin Steel, Pullman-Standard, Brachs Candy... Nobody wants to buy those plants, even on the cheap, because they don't want to deal with the workforce. You don't walk away from a billion dollar steel mill or railcar plant because it's a bad day, you do it because financially it makes more sense to dump a billion dollars in a new plant than keep fighting the same battle at an old plant. You'll notice the last big Caterpillar plant in the area was in Lafayette, IN, and Sumitomo built their Rochelle railcar plant 80 miles out of the city. All the recent steel mills have gone to Indiana, too (Steel Dynamics, Nucor).
Finally, the taxes are probably nuts, too. When Thrall Car (freight cars) left town, their annual property tax bill alone was something like $400k. They told the city they were losing their tail and were going to move if nobody did anything about the tax bill. The city tried calling their bluff, and Thrall moved out. The current owner pays something like 1/10th that property tax and employes maybe 50 people, rather than 1000 people.
The company - Cat - has a fiduciary duty to their shareholders to make money, and Cat's good at doing this. The shareholders, of course, are what's known as "institutional investors". In everyday terms, that's our retirement funds and insurance companies. We depend on the success of such companies to provide our safety nets for sickness and old age.
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