Before the negative impact COVID-19 had on the economy this year, many Americans working in manufacturing plants saw their jobs disappear over the last few years. According to the Economic Policy Institute, nearly 1,800 factories shut down during the Trump administration between 2016-2018.
One of these workers was Agapito “Pete” Velez, a Puerto Rican-American factory worker from Lorain County, Ohio, who was laid off from his company 3M during the Summer of 2017. In the new documentary The Disrupted, directors Sarah Colt and Josh Gleason follow Velez and two other workers (a farmer and Uber driver) as they maneuver their way through tough times.
When audiences are introduced to Velez, he is delivering a pep talk to a group of his fellow co-workers who also lost their jobs.
“Two Ps kept me coming in here – the paycheck and the people,” Velez says before they all take a shot of whiskey. “They tried to tear us down, but we’re gonna show them how we rebuild – stronger than ever.”
Now unemployed with a family to support, Velez is adamant about not having to rely on anyone to keep him employed. He wants to train to install and fix HVAC systems and wants to be his own boss. With a positive outlook on life, Valdez powers forward, although he thinks about how bad things got when his father was laid off when he was a child.
“It was low income housing from that point forward,” he says. “We literally moved to the other side of the tracks.”
Velez’s story is one of hope and perseverance. With the way 2020 has gone for many Americans, it’s something everyone needs to hear.
The Disrupted will hit Video on Demand platforms October 13.