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Week of 8 April 2024: Macho Nonsense

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I must admit I did this back in the day, and I recently heard this practice still happens. Hourly workers are usually protected from this, with or without unions, so it is a practice where one needs to focus on the management ranks.

I am talking about ridiculously long working periods. I am not talking about a double shift or twenty-four hours, I am talking about way beyond this. For how long did I ever pull this stunt? Seventy-two hours. It is just silly for no one is so valuable to their mill that this is necessary.

Such a practice is dangerous and is a case of throwing all caution to the wind.

Question: what is the form of torture, popular around the world, that puts no marks on the body (hence one cannot exam the person to determine if they have been tortured)? Sleep deprivation!

One might even argue that sleep deprivation in a torture situation is gentler than what I am talking about here, for in a mill we have whirring machinery, active fork trucks, electric arc welders and other such flotsam and jetsam scurrying about. In torture, one is often sitting in a chair, arms bound and a bright light overhead. A far safer environment than a mill, particularly if the goal of your tormentors is to leave no marks on your body!

Then there is the other safety issue surrounding odd hours at mills, and this involves all employees and suppliers. It is the issue with deer. Many of our mills are located in rural or far suburban areas where deer can be a problem.

I hit one--driving home at 4 am after a 20-hour session at the mill. I am not alone nor unique, many have done this. I was lucky--this one hit my hood and went sliding off to the right and I was not hurt. Knocked my radiator into my fan. Dragged the car home, got out the sledge hammer and it was as good as new. After all, this was my "mill car." If you are not familiar with having a "mill car" back in the day we all had mill cars--an old beater we drove to the mill. These were necessary because there were often "burps" from the pulp mill that would take the paint off a battleship and eat a hole through your car.

If you don't know it, there are a couple of key times to watch out for deer--rutting season in the fall and birthing season in the spring. Mid-winter they are usually bedded down except at dawn when the hunters are shooting at them. Summer is a mixed bag. These were my experiences from Michigan to southern Alabama.

But I don't want to lose sight of my lecture this week. Managers--knock off the macho hours' routine. It is dangerous and about as unsafe an activity in which you can participate. If it is pervasive in your mill, stop it now.

Be safe and we will talk next week.


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