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Windmill Builder | Levittown, Pa.
Jim Bauer and his wife thought the job ad was a joke. "It sounded too good to be true: 'If you're mechanically inclined, if you like to travel.' We thought it was some kind of fraudulent post," he recalls. "For giggles, I went down and applied."
It wasn't a joke. The company that placed the ad, Spanish wind energy giant Gamesa, hired the former steelworker in 2006 and sent him to Spain for three months of training.
Gamesa turned a closed steel mill outside of Philadelphia into a plant that helps produce wind tubines to harness clean energy. Courtesy: Gamesa
"I'd never left the country except for Canada," Bauer says. "I got my passport with only a couple of days to spare."
At 48, Bauer had been forced to retire from his job as a crane operator for United States Steel Corp. in Fairless Hills, Pa. He had worked at the mill for 25 years -- five years shy of eligibility for a full pension.
Bauer's new job made for a familiar commute. Gamesa purchased several shuttered mill properties. Now he builds windmill hubs in the building that used to house the steel mill's main machine shop.
One thing that hasn't changed is Bauer's union affiliation. Gamesa workers in the United States are represented by the United Steelworkers of America. Bauer is president of Local 4889-23, which represents the nacelles unit at the Fairless Hills plant.
"I kind of look forward to going to work every day," he says.
last revised 6/11/2009
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