Help keep jobs

Published 6:37 pm Saturday, January 23, 2010

Last week representatives of Bush Hog laid out its plans to ask the Selma City Council to cordon off its property by closing some streets around it. The reasons, those representatives said, were twofold: for the security and safety of workers and those in the area; for insurance purposes.

At last count about 288 people remained employed at the plant. Admittedly, Bush Hog has had its issues. During the last 1 1/2 years the company has dropped from 900 employees to a shutdown to bringing some back. Then the company was put up for sale (a fire sale some in on the negotiations said).

The Alamo Group came in and purchased Bush Hog. The group also trimmed back on employees, thus the current 288 or so. Those last layoffs created some hard feelings among former workers.

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Yet the fact remains there are more than 200 workers who depend on the job and those wages to feed their families. Now consider the average family of four, living off the wages paid by Bush Hog and perhaps supplemented by another wage. If you multiply 200 by four you get 800 people depending on that company.

Representatives from Bush Hog say they will be forced to close down the plant if they cannot cordon off those streets. That means more than 200 workers and their families without jobs, living on unemployment — not much.

On the other hand, a group of people far less than the 200 with jobs live in a section of the area proposed for closure. Those people have put down roots and they do not want to give up their homesteads. That kind of change is painful, indeed.

But when one weighs the needs of the many — those workers, their families, this city and the retailers who depend on the dollars generated by those workers and their families — against the less than a dozen households in that area, then the line is clear.

The Selma City Council should vote to give Bush Hog what it needs to stay alive.

And, in return, Bush Hog should become a better neighbor, opening up the lines of communication, even when the layoffs come or the downside seems overwhelming.

After all, when people understand what is happening, the fear of the unknown is lessened and the tendency to take a defensive position is less likely.