Workplace Submission 1

This is the first of what will be a series of articles from workers about the conditions in their workplaces. We encourage our readers to write and submit their own experiences in the workplace, whether that includes anecdotes, wage and deferred compensation numbers or stories of struggle. It’s necessary for workers to share the problems and solutions (or lack of solutions) encountered in confronting the everyday business of the…everyday business. Taking inspiration from the worker surveys and worker-correspondents of the past, this is a very modest step toward building that culture. — Anti-Capital

Big Al

For a time I worked in a huge plant in Georgia that had no AC. A few folks were given personal fans to use, and they would open the bay doors. Starting pay for me in the plant was $12/hour with a full welding certificate. The company did a performance review every month until the 6th month of employment, at which time it transitioned to an annual performance review. I was offered a $1/hour raise after my 6th monthly performance review, bringing my wages to $13/hour. My wages stayed at that rate until I left.

Senior workers could get a check every quarter that the company made a profit; this is of course after the owner (he hardly came to the plant anymore) got his bonuses and paid for anything he bought. The current owner inherited the plant from his father.

The plant had over 20 welders with only 1 welding inspector. The welding inspector was an assembler unless called to a project. There were massive quality control issues with many shipped parts being returned. Working in the mill, we had parts come for a small production run of under a dozen units and over half the parts did not reach specifications. One part was actually longer by more than a foot.

One massive order was made up of thousands of individual parts that was returned because the parts wouldn’t fit together properly. The plant stopped all production to fix the problems in this order. At the time, I was ‘supervising’ around 4 new hires and instructing them how to fix the returned parts (hole diameter issues) and spraying galvanizing compound on finished parts.

Supposedly a few years ago the assemblers and machinists had to sleep at the plant to fix a shipment that was wrong. They slept on crushed up cardboard on top of the conveyor rollers in the plant. Not long after it first opened, many welders were laid-off after the plant manager let a shipment go out (that he was supposed to check) and it came back because of severe defects (specifically buckets for tractors that didn’t have enough filler welding).

I worked in every sector of the plant at one time or another and everyone that I talked to at the plant said the biggest problem was that the plant manager had no clue what he was doing and put unrealistic expectations on the workers because he had no background in this kind of work besides working in the shipping department of another plant. One time during a lunch break one of the senior workers in the plant went on a tirade that the plant manager had no business being where he was because he had, “no clue what he was doing at all.” I heard how the plant manager had micromanaged and decreased productivity and that another senior worker left after 20 years because of this plant manager.

Plant hours were standard at 6:00am-4:00pm Monday-Thursday. Though I only had 2 or 3 Fridays off during my time there. Other workers said that this had been the slowest period in years. The plant ran 60+ hour weeks normally, sometimes for an entire year or more.

They had health care, retirement and profit sharing plans, but I have no clue how good these were, never took advantage of them except that I had to take the healthcare plan for a month because of ACA requirements.

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