Disassembled: A Native Son on Janesville and General Motors – a Story of Grit, Race, Gender and Wishful Thinking and What it Means for America (Paperback)
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There have been many articles and even books written on what happened after General Motors closed its plant in Janesville, Wisconsin in 2008 after some 90 years of operation. Here, for the first time, former Wisconsin state senator—and Janesville native—Tim Cullen tells the inside story of how and why it happened, and what it means for the future not only of Janesville, but cities across America.
Cullen, who co-chaired the governor’s task force that tried to save the Janesville plant, provides a sweeping history of the plant from its boom years to the abyss, while noting the struggles African Americans and women faced in getting hired and treated fairly. Along the way he finds some heroes, including an early African American GM employee; a woman who insisted on gender equity in the plant; and Walter Reuther,
the legendary labor leader.
Perhaps no one is better qualified than Tim Cullen to tell this important story. Tim worked in the Janesville GM plant as a college student and
he was there, decades on, when presidential candidate Barack Obama told a hopeful gathering of GM employees and other stakeholders he
would do what he could to ensure its success. Less than a year later, the plant closed. In Disassembled, Tim Cullen reveals what happened.
About the Author
Tim Cullen was born and raised in Janesville, Wisconsin. Cullen graduated from UW-Whitewater with a Major in Political Science with a minor in History. He is the third generation of his family to work at General Motors. He worked there for four summers in the 1960s to pay his way through college. He also was involved in helping GM and the UAW as a state senator representing Janesville. Governor Jim Doyle appointed him to co-chair a task force in 2008 to try to save the plant. He has had a lifetime of connections with the “plant.” The first election he won was to the Janesville City Council in 1970. Four years later Cullen was elected to the State Senate at the age of 30. He went on to become Senate Majority Leader and in 1987 he became Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services under Governor Tommy Thompson. In 1988 Cullen took a job with Blue Cross and worked with them for the next 20 years. In 2010 he decided to run for his old Senate seat. He was elected and served until 2015. Today Cullen still lives in Janesville and spends his time working with the three foundations he started. He is also the chair of the board of Common Cause-Wisconsin.
Cullen will donate all profits from this book to the Janesville Multicultural Teachers Opportunity Fund he started in 2008. The sole purpose of the Fund is to raise money for college scholarships for Janesville students of color. The goal is to support those students who wish to become teachers and are willing to return to Janesville to teach for at least three years.
“Through recounting the history of the Janesville General Motors plant, Tim Cullen also shares unique stories of individuals whose vision, leadership, and persistence left indelible legacies in our community and beyond. The Rock County community did not allow the closing of the GM plant define the future; indeed, it became a catalyst for new growth and hope.” —Sue Conley, Janesville City Councilwoman
“I think you will find Tim’s insight on the UAW’s progressive platform to not create a bigger piece of the pie for its blue-collar workers, but rather create a bigger pie for all American families was the key to success for our small town for many years . . . and how it can all suddenly change.” —Bruce Penny, past UAW Local 95 President and retired UAW International Representative
“A good, comprehensive read of Janesville and the General Motors years.” —John Scott III, son of John Scott, Jr. and retired Rock County Deputy Sheriff