FLINT, Mich. - Although cutbacks and relocations often are in a company's best interest, it is the city and its people who suffer. Flint is no exception.
Nancy Pendergast, 38, a gas station attendant, is like most people in Flint in that she has several relatives - including her father and grandfather - and a number of friends who all work for General Motors.
'The town would be dead without GM,' Pendergast said. 'And I think GM is kind of copping out on the people by moving away to places like Mexico where they don't have to pay as much and don't have to give medical benefits.'
As General Motors moves jobs out of Flint, the employees are expected to relocate as well, some following the company to keep job security and others moving in search of a new employer.
In the tight-knit community of Flint, many families are torn apart in the process.
'It's like the roots of a tree. Everybody grew up here, most people who work for GM don't live very far from the plant, and a lot of people live within four or five miles of their parents. And I'm a fourth-generation shop rat myself,' said Paul Lennox, a 46-year-old electrician for GM.
But plant workers and their families aren't the only Flint residents who feel the effects of the auto company, both positive and negative. Other members of the community are touched as well.
'We're retired, but our children are still here, and I'm concerned about them if these shops go down. It's not just going to hurt GM employees; it's going to get to everyone around them, too,' said 65-year-old Beatrice Jones, a retired government worker, as she sat on a bench with her husband, Clifford, watching shoppers pass at the Genesee Valley Center, a shopping mall. 'Just like Martin Luther King said: What affects one directly affects everybody else indirectly.'
And with the continuous changes in GM's manufacturing plants, loyalty once expressed toward the company by factory workers gradually has been replaced by anger and frustration.
The automaker, regularly accused of making promises it does not intend to keep, has faced strikes by employees that hurting local businesses and families.
'My mom works for GM. When they went on strike last year, she only got about $100 a week, and it really put a lot of stress on our family,' said Misty Max-well, 21, a Pier 1 employee.
'I can remember a lot of the restaurants around here were closed because nobody was going out and spending money much during that time. It just shows how big of a deal GM is here.'
HAPPY WITH JOB
However, just as the auto company has caused much hardship, GM still plays a crucial role in creating jobs.
'People are upset about the company because it seems like we've given our lives and families to General Motors, and now they want to repay us by cutting back and making more money,' said Lennox as he walked quickly to his car after his morning shift at the GM plant on Bristol Road in Flint.
'But I've also been here for 15 years as an electrician for overhead cranes, and I'm happy with the job I have.'
Amid the uncertainty, there remain a few optimists able to look beyond the skepticism and keep the faith in their beloved city.
'Flint is a city made up of people who know how to survive,' said Ed Reynolds, a 68-year-old retired GM worker. 'It can survive anything. And even if GM decided to move another plant, we'd make it through.'
Ed Murphy, 67, a retired GM trucker, said, 'I drove a truck for GM for many years, hauling parts from dealer to dealer, and I really liked working for them. They had good benefits.
'It will hurt the city in the long run if they decide to leave. People here have good jobs with GM, and I hope they stay.'