For nearly 50 years, the Goodman plant, now owned by Daikin Industries, has been a mainstay in the small community of Fayetteville, TN. The facility has seen generations of workers walk through its doors. Fathers and mothers have worked alongside their sons and daughters and even grandchildren, producing residential and light air conditioning and heating systems. Families in this area have used their earnings to buy homes, send their kids to college and put food on the table for close to five decades. More than1600 of those employees are our Machinist Brothers and Sisters from IAM Local 2385.
Unfortunately, life is about to change for Fayetteville as the company has plans to move its operations from Tennessee to Texas next year. A move that will forever change the landscape of a community that proudly totes the motto ‘A small town with big ideas.‘
“This town is going to be devastated. The leadership in this community doesn’t know what’s coming,” said retiree David Troglen of Local 2385 who spent 40 years on Goodman’s shop floor.” They don’t realize how bad it’s going to be but unfortunately, they will find out.”
So when the local asked members whether they should continue the tradition of hosting a Community Appreciation Day this year considering the circumstances, it was no surprise the answer was a resounding yes.
“You just have to know the Brothers and Sisters who call Local 2385 home that, of course, they would still put on this event,” said Southern Territory General Vice President Rickey Wallace. “Our IAM family in Fayetteville exemplifies the true meaning of what it means to be a Machinist and giving back to the community. It’s ingrained in who they are and that’s not going to change because of a company’s decision to close its doors.”
“It’s a sad day but we still have a lot to be thankful for so we celebrate. We have been blessed with good jobs and we want to share that with our neighbors and friends,” said and Directing Business Representative of 711 and Local 2385 member Jerry Benson. He too is a former employee of the Goodman plant with 30 years under his belt. “We are fighting machinists. We don’t quit, we don’t give up. This is no different.”
It didn’t cost anyone a dime in this town to drop by the local on a chilly Saturday in November and enjoy some food, laughter and of course, a chat with Santa. And for one afternoon, everyone shut down the shop talk and focused on the sound of the kids laughing and the smell of the BBQ wafting through the hall.
Daryl Weir, who met his wife on the shop floor years ago and currently holds the title of Chief Steward at the plant, played cook that day and watched as the word union was celebrated by all.
“We are giving back to the community. That’s what this is all about right now,” said Weir.
But Weir admits, the day was bittersweet.
“When the news was announced, the head of the company came and told us we had nothing to do with the decision. The reason we were the last plant that was closing is because our workforce is as good as it is. I just wish there was something we could do to save these jobs,” Weir said sadly.
Since before the announcement, the IAM has been working with the company and community leadership to try and keep these jobs in the county. Even looking for outside businesses to move into the facility and start anew in Tennessee. With the full backing of the IAM, Benson promises he will continue to work on keeping these strong, union jobs in Fayetteville until the end.
“One day, I had a plant manager tell me I acted like I owned the company. I told him, yes I do! I’ve got blood, sweat and tears in it. My Dad did, my family does and my friends do too. So yeah – we own it because we made it,” explained Benson. “They wouldn’t be the company they are without the machinists and this local. And that’s why we will never stop fighting.”