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Darlene M Caban

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Factory Lesson Number One: Milk The Job
by Darlene M Caban   
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
Last edited: Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Posted: Monday, January 17, 2005

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Hard work doesn't pay in a shop environment

I have worked in numerous factories, and while they all produced different products, their environments were the same: Hard work didn't pay.

Manufacturing plants are second only to business offices for the "politics" that invade every aspect of work-- it's impossible to simply come to work and do your job. There are numerous asses to be kissed, ridiculous rules to be followed, and a 'work speed' to be observed. Violation of any of these mores results in swift retaliation from co-workers and managers.

One particular situation that always seemed to crop up was "Doing It Right the First Time versus Guaranteed Overtime." A job would come in that needed to be completed in a week. People were pulled off of other jobs to 'get it out the door' on time. About three-quarters of the way through the job, workers would start to realize that if they completed the job by the deadline, there would be no overtime. Suddenly, more than half of the product would fail inspection, and emergency overtime would be called. People who had no business inspecting finished product were pressed into service, with the result that the Quality Assurance department became swamped with stuff that never should have made it off of the assembly floor. Q.A. would send cases and cases of product back to the assembly floor to be repaired or reworked, necessitating more overtime. With employee expenditures running so high, layoffs start.

You'd think that the goof-offs would be the first to go, but in every shop I've ever worked in, it's the good workers who get booted first. If you do your work at a reasonable speed, eventually you will run out of work and have to cruise around the shop looking for something to do-- and if the manager sees you doing that, he assumes you're wasting company time and you're out the door before you know what happened. If you sit at your desk and take your sweet ol' time assembling, you'll always have a pile of work on your desk and you'll never have to get up... and you'll be guaranteed two hours of overtime every night. If you're in any danger of running out of work, just start making stupid mistakes. That will cause the work to be rejected and returned to your desk, where you can take your sweet ol' time repairing it.

It also seems to help if you smoke cigarettes-- that way, you can take a bathroom/smoke break every few hours, and let more work pile up on your desk. Non-smokers are not allowed the same freedom to leave their desks... even with the new rules against smoking on the job, the smokers still rule the roost in factories. "Needing a cigarette break" is a valid excuse for screwing off in the middle of a rush job.

Anyone seeking employment in a factory should be prepared to engage in shop politics-- if you think you're just going to punch in and go to work, think again.


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Reviewed by Bob Holt (Reader)
You are so right. I've seen everything you've talked about, politics and all. My company doesn't seem to want to fire anyone. They lean on the better workers because they know they'll get the work out.

Bob H
Reviewed by A Serviceable Villain

You certainly hit the proverbial (corporate) nail on the head with this well-done, extra-fine literary piece - I once worked in a factory that made wooden truces for homes and businesses - worked the grave yard shift; was so glad to get out of there!!


Reviewed by Judy Lloyd (Reader)
You are right and before I became a nurse I worked in factories. You said this and it is about time.
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
so true, dar, so true! i used to work in a factory for a brief time, and i heard and saw much! great write! :) (((HUGS))) and love, your tx. friend, karen lynn. :D (the factory job was the first job i ever had; it was for people with disabilities, and i worked there six months, which was how long the training period was.)
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