Segments in this Video

Plant Closure (02:37)


The Electrolux Corporation moved their Greenville, Michigan operation to Juarez, Mexico in 2006. Workers had earned $15 hourly; their Mexican counterparts earn $1.57. Headquartered in Sweden, the multinational corporation has moved manufacturing in pursuit of cheap labor.

Consequences of Job Loss (02:47)

Psychologist Richard Price studies health impacts of Michigan plant closures. Transferring work to low wage countries undermines job security and benefits. Financial stress leads to health issues among former Electrolux employees, who experience insomnia, anxiety and depression.

Unemployment and Health Issues (02:31)

Social worker Dan Ellison talks to Richard Ort about his depression after losing his job. Many former Electrolux employees are struggling to cope with life; cardiac and anxiety related problems are common.

Pathophysiology of Stress (03:00)

Unemployment triggers an acute stress response, increasing blood pressure, blood sugar and inflammation. Associated diseases include cardiovascular and kidney diseases and alcohol related illnesses. Greenville's plant closure doubled Montcalm County unemployment. Dr. Harvey Brenner predicts 130 excess deaths over ten years.

Rust Belt Decline (02:53)

Three million manufacturing jobs have been lost over the last decade. Montcalm County's plants began closing in the 1980s—putting stress on small family farmers. Former Electrolux supervisor Sandy Beck works a low wage job but retains her family farm.

Eroding Middle Class (03:03)

Beck's farm sits on Clifford Lake, where wealthy homeowners are increasing property taxes. Manufacturing lay-offs are increasing income inequality. Business is booming for Gordon Stauffer's luxury appliance company. Although productivity has increased, workers have not shared the benefits.

Economic Position and Health (04:08)

Wealthy Americans have more resources and power to control their lives. Research shows people with little autonomy are at increased risk of heart disease and mental illness. The top one percent of U.S. society holds 38 percent of wealth.

Swedish Unemployment Model (02:34)

In 2004, Peter Stenberg lost his job when Electrolux moved a plant from Vastervik to Hungary. He has benefits as long as he is studying or looking for work. Sweden distributes wealth for economic security while prospering on the global market.

Social Protection (03:02)

Sweden provides free healthcare, college education and maternity leave; citizens willingly pay more taxes for this security. Unions and the government pressured Electrolux to provide funding for new businesses in Vastervik. Greenville's unemployed workers are left to fend for themselves.

Credits: Not Just a Paycheck (03:14)

Credits: Not Just a Paycheck

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Not Just a Paycheck

Part of the Series : Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?
3-Year Streaming Price: $69.95



How does employment policy and job insecurity affect our health? Residents of western Michigan struggle against depression, domestic violence, and an uptick in heart disease and diabetes when the largest refrigerator factory in the country shuts down. Ironically, the plant is owned by a Swedish company where shutdowns, far from devastating lives, are relatively benign events—and for some, even an opportunity because of Swedish government policies rooted in an ethos of shared responsibility.

Length: 31 minutes

Item#: FPT165943

Copyright date: ©2008

Closed Captioned

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