Brett Lewis

Age: 35
New job: Machinist, GE Aviation

Lewis worked at Leviton for 11 years as a tool and dye maker, earning his way up to $33,500 a year. After the plant shut down, he went back to school to become a high school technology teacher. But when he graduated, there were no teaching jobs in the area. Eventually he made his way to GE Aviation, where he works as a machinist assembling jet engines. He works the undesirable night shift and earns less than he did at Leviton.

“Nobody goes to college and when they graduate, thinking they are going to work third shift somewhere. When you go to college, the plan is that you’re gonna better yourself—not spend your whole life working on the shop floor. When Leviton shut down, I went back to school to get my teaching certification in industrial technology. I thought, maybe this is my chance to go back and finish. And I did, only it didn’t get me a job.”

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