Documentary looks at town with closed GM plant

CHAMPAIGN — WILL's Community Cinema will screen at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Champaign Public Library the documentary "As Goes Janesville," which takes viewers to the front lines of America's debate over the future of its middle class.

The free screening — and a discussion of the issues it raises — will be in Robeson Rooms A & B.

Partnering with Illinois Public Media for the discussion are the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees 698; the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce; Champaign County Economic Development Corporation; and the economic development departments of the cities of Champaign and Urbana. Among the panelists will be James McGuire, president of AFSCME 698 at the University of Illinois, and Tom Carrino, city of Urbana economic development manager.

The documentary looks at how General Motors shut down its century-old plant in Janesville, Wis., causing mass layoffs and exiles in search of work. Then newly elected governor Scott Walker introduced a controversial bill to end collective bargaining, unleashing a fury of protest and sparking a recall election.

The producers of the documentary spent three years following the stories of laid-off workers trying to reinvent themselves; business leaders aligned with the governor to promote a pro-business agenda that they believe will woo new companies to town; and a state senator caught in the middle, trying to bring peace to his warring state and to protect workers' rights.

The documentary also will air on WILL-TV's "Independent Lens" at 9 p.m. Monday.

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