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Amish RV plant workers and economy

TomK's picture

 For those who are not familiar with the greater Shipshewana, Indiana area, besides being a well known tourist site, it is the center of RV manufacturing. These RV plants hire quite a few area Amish/Mennonite men, 1. because of their carpentry skills, 2. because of their work ethics. These men work there and use these wages to offset their farm incomes or for some of them it is their income.

I'm sure everyone is well familiar with all the big time layoffs happening (auto,airlines, etc.) these last few years do to high gas/oil prices but, not much news is made though of smaller places such as Pilgrim, Keystone, Newmar, Dutchman Mfg., Monaco and Sundowner, all main RV manufacturers. Over 2,000 jobs have been lost and 5 plants shutdown so far since June.

As the Amish/Mennonites have had to adjust through the years and more and more have had to move from farming to other 'English' occupations,these layoffs will hurt,especially those who rely on these plant wages for income. It would be interesting to see what happens in the future, but I'm sure these families will survive these rough times in typical Amish/Mennonite fashion, by pulling together as family, community and sharing/helping each other through it all. Thats the part of their culture that is slowly/sadly disappearing from alot of 21st century 'English' famlies,communities...



Re: Amish RV plant workers and economy

My hometown is in Elkhart county, and many of my relatives are affected by this extreme downturn in the economy.

Yes, the restaurants could have plenty of good help now.  But with so many unemployed and workers staying home, the restaurants are hurting and some of the smaller ones are going out of business. Other businesses, too... every time I travel in Elkhart county, I'm shocked at how many more buildings are empty.

For the first time I can remember, the Amish are taking "unemployment". Part of this development is that many of the younger families have edged into the "modern" life of factory paychecks and store-bought food. Some just don't home can any more, or garden more than just a few plants "for fresh".  Their grocery carts hold the same "junk foods" the general public buys.  (And you can see their children have lost much of the Amish "healthy glow".)  So for the moment, they are just as trapped in the "system" as the rest of the unemployed.

Their mothers and grandmothers have warned and scolded and offered help, and I'm sure that this year will see a resurgence of gardens and canning in these families.  They have the "know-how" and the ready help nearby, if they have forgotten or need help.

I'm sure the parents are grateful, in a way, for the changes, because it reinforces the traditional Amish way of life over the "quick and easy". 

I'm wondering how long some of the young families will keep their cell phones!  LOL  I remember being absolutely shocked to hear how a cousin's family charged their cell phone when they fired up their electric juicer on the generator... my Grandparents would have been horrified! 

Small wonder the Ohio Amish consider these Indiana Amish "too modern" and seat them apart at their weddings.



It takes gas and gas costs money to look for a job. Layed off means waiting for an unemployment check. So, they look for work and that takes gas and don't have money. Reminds me of an Alice Cooper song, "Can't get a job cause I don't have a car and I can't get a car cause I don't have a job." The restaurants should have plenty of good help now.

Re: Amish RV plant workers and economy

Yes....great contribution, Tom.  The Amish in the "Michiana" are are horribly impacted by the high gas prices and the effects of them rippling through the RV industry.  Some factories have really pared their workforces.  The other industry many Amish are in is home-building and that is getting clobbered by the economy also....

Leah's picture

Re: Amish RV plant workers and economy

It's quite an adjustment for any household when one is layed off from their place of work, I am sure, regardless of one bein' Amish or English.  The Amish are wonderful-gut at takin' care of their own and should one member of the community lose his/her job, the fellowship would help out where help is most needed, whether that be in a donation of money, groceries, chorin', etc.  This help would be provided until a new job was available to the one who was layed off. 

Leah E Mast