The Plight of the Working Class in America:
The Orange Juice Bottling Plant
By Richard Mabey Jr.
I shall be as concise and precise as I possibly can here. Herein lies the truth. You can recant with the usual conservative Fox News and radio talk host jive, with statements like, “there’s work out there, people are just too lazy to work.” But here is one example of truth.
Jim Farlow graduated high school in 1971. His dad, Bill Farlow, worked at the orange juice plant in Orange Blossom, Florida. The plant was owned and managed by two families; the Terhune family and the Salem family. Both families had their entire family work in the orange juice plant. The Terhune’s and the Salem’s were decent people. They were fair to their employees.
Bill Farlow was the Chief Operating Mechanic of the gizmo whizmo gearing apparatus, better known as GWGA. Bill had worked at this very orange juice plant since he was 16 years old. Bill worked hard, he worked very hard to climb up the ladder to become the COM of the GWGA. His son, Jim, dreamed of one day following in his dad’s footsteps. But for right now, Jim worked the packing and assembly factory line for the concentrated orange juice division. It was tough, hard, mean work. But young Jim did not mind.
At night, Jim would study his dad’s manuals and books about the workings of the famous GWGA. Jim was becoming a bit of an expert in the mechanics of this huge orange juice bottling machine.
In 1981, there was a cold front that swept through Central Florida, during the month of January. The frost took a heavy financial loss for the Terhune and Salem family. Their orange trees, covering many square miles of orange groves, were affected by this freeze. But even still, property taxes had to be paid.
The plant was closed down for the months of January and February in 1981. The Terhune and Salem families were barely able to pay the property taxes, let alone the wages of several hundred employees.
In desperation, the two families sold their orange juice packing plant to the Quick Maid Orange Juice Company. Quick Maid Orange Juice Company, or QMOJ as the locals called the company, was a subsidiary of Macho-Cola Company, which was a subsidiary of Best Quality Foods Corporation.
By March of 1981, the old orange juice packing plant was in operation. But change was in the air. There were rumors that the big wheels at QMOJ wanted more production out of the plant. By the Fall of 1982, the GWGA apparatus was replaced by a fully computerized, automatic mechanized, state of the art orange juice bottling system. Sadly, Bill Farlow was laid off, along with a few hundred other employees. Bill took a job at the local Rip-Ya-Off Department Store, located out on the highway. It had just been built.
Bill was not able to get a full-time job right away. He took on part-time work, with the promise that if he was a good enough employee, he would be considered for full-time. Sadly, Bill retired from the Rip-Ya-Off Department Store as a part-time worker, with no pension. He kept his family above water, by doing odd jobs for neighbors and friends.
Jim stayed on in the Concentrated Orange Juice Division, or the COJD as it was frequently referred to. He was never offered a promotion. When QMOJ bought the plant in the little town of Orange Blossom, Florida, they brought down their own crew of supervisors and managers to run the operation, the way that they felt was best.
In June of 1991, a group of big wheels, from Best Quality Foods Corporation, came down to inspect the production effectiveness of the orange juice bottling plant. Their final report recommended to the CEO of BQFC that the plant be closed down and bottling operations be moved to Gamojero, Mexico. Everyone was laid off.
Jim tried and tried and tried to get another full time job. But in the little town of Orange Blossoms, Florida, the orange juice bottling plant was the central economy for the entire town. Finally, after six months of looking for a job, Jim followed in his father’s footsteps and took a job at the Rip-Ya-Off Department Store. He was promised by the management, that if he did a good enough job, he would be moved up to full time status.
Jim was never moved up to full time status. In May of 2003, Jim turned 50 and was fired for having too many absent-tee times. You see Jim’s mother, Sue, was diagnosed with cancer in January of 2002. Jim was his Mom’s only care taker. His Dad passed away two years before. There were times when Jim was just needed at home, so he had no choice but to call in that he could not make it to work that that day. It wasn’t a frequent thing, but enough where the management had an excuse to fire the “older guy” at the store.
Jim tried and tried and tried to find another job. He was faced with being the victim of age prejudice. When he told family and friends about his plight, they reassured Jim that he was imagining it all. That age prejudice did not exist at all.
In August of 2004, Jim’s mother Sue passed away. Today Jim still lives in the very home that he was born in, in the little town of Orange Blossoms, Florida. He is now 64 years old. he gets by, by doing odd jobs for neighbors and friends. He truly followed in his father’s footsteps.
The old orange juice bottling plant is now a big eye sore in town. Quick Maid Orange Juice just let the town have it for taxes. Weeds grow in the parking lot. The local kids throw rocks at the windows, you know, the windows with chicken wire in them. The remains of the plant is just a heap of red bricks and concrete blocks and broken glass.
This is just one story of what the big corporations are doing to small town America. You won’t see this story featured on Fox News. You won’t hear the conservative radio personalities tell this story on their radio programs. They’ll just keep babbling the same old rhetoric, “there’s jobs out there, people just don’t want to work!”