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105

1981-1982: We Aren't Dogs, Cabrón

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Ranney, D. (2019). 1981-1982: We Aren't Dogs, Cabrón. In Ranney, D. Living and Dying on the Factory Floor: From the Outside In and the Inside Out. PM Press, pp. 105-114

108

As we finish automating the line, I am feeling bad for the workers who will be laid off. But after a few weeks, I see another dimension of automation. One of the two workers left after layoffs takes the baked boards off the racks and stacks them on pallets. He also stacks the empty racks using a small crane. It is backbreaking work. But worse than that, this man is completely tied to the pace set by the computer. During breaks I can see it is beginning to unnerve him. He sits by himself in the lunchroom smoking a cigarette, looking miserable.

One day he can't seem to keep up. Railcars full of boards are piling up. He has access to a "panic button," which can stop the process in an emergency. When he pushes it, a loud alarm goes off. When that happens men in white shirts emerge from the offices on the balcony. After the alarm goes off a few times a foreman runs over to where the operator is working. "What the hell are you doing?"

"This fucking thing is going too fast. I can't keep up."

"Do your job! If you can't do it there are plenty of people who can. I probably just laid one of them off!"

The operator is covered head to toe with protective clothing and a mask. I can't see his expression, but a few minutes later he presses the panic button again. The foreman is back, on the run. He is shouting, "What the fuck did I tell you?"

Suddenly the operator pulls a knife, grabs the foreman by the shirt. "Next time you yell at me I'll cut your throat!"

Within minutes two security guards grab the man off the line and disarm and handcuff him. They take him to the lunchroom to wait for the police. Workers on the floor look at another, spontaneously begin to shut everything down, and go to the lunchroom. The foreman and a few management people I have never seen before come in and order us all back to work. The union steward, one of my fellow maintenance workers, speaks up.

"The line moves too fast for one guy. He just went nuts. You would too." He turns to the foreman. "Why don't you try a turn at this, Paul?"

im picturing the security guards just standing around, watching this guy doing this backbreaking work, and only intervening now

—p.108 by David Ranney 1 year, 8 months ago

As we finish automating the line, I am feeling bad for the workers who will be laid off. But after a few weeks, I see another dimension of automation. One of the two workers left after layoffs takes the baked boards off the racks and stacks them on pallets. He also stacks the empty racks using a small crane. It is backbreaking work. But worse than that, this man is completely tied to the pace set by the computer. During breaks I can see it is beginning to unnerve him. He sits by himself in the lunchroom smoking a cigarette, looking miserable.

One day he can't seem to keep up. Railcars full of boards are piling up. He has access to a "panic button," which can stop the process in an emergency. When he pushes it, a loud alarm goes off. When that happens men in white shirts emerge from the offices on the balcony. After the alarm goes off a few times a foreman runs over to where the operator is working. "What the hell are you doing?"

"This fucking thing is going too fast. I can't keep up."

"Do your job! If you can't do it there are plenty of people who can. I probably just laid one of them off!"

The operator is covered head to toe with protective clothing and a mask. I can't see his expression, but a few minutes later he presses the panic button again. The foreman is back, on the run. He is shouting, "What the fuck did I tell you?"

Suddenly the operator pulls a knife, grabs the foreman by the shirt. "Next time you yell at me I'll cut your throat!"

Within minutes two security guards grab the man off the line and disarm and handcuff him. They take him to the lunchroom to wait for the police. Workers on the floor look at another, spontaneously begin to shut everything down, and go to the lunchroom. The foreman and a few management people I have never seen before come in and order us all back to work. The union steward, one of my fellow maintenance workers, speaks up.

"The line moves too fast for one guy. He just went nuts. You would too." He turns to the foreman. "Why don't you try a turn at this, Paul?"

im picturing the security guards just standing around, watching this guy doing this backbreaking work, and only intervening now

—p.108 by David Ranney 1 year, 8 months ago
111

We go out to the shop floor. It is still very hot in the oven. Even with heavy gloves we can't touch the steel walls. After a half hour we decide to break for ten minutes to get water. When we get back the foreman and several white shirt guys are standing there. We pick up our tools as the foreman speaks, "What did you think you were doing?"

"Taking a break."

"You'll take a break when I tell you to."

The steward tosses a shovel on the ground. We all walk back toward the lunchroom, as our group leader shouts, "Fix the fucking mess yourself, then you can decide when to take breaks."

There is some whispering among the white shirts and the foreman. Then ... "Okay, okay, just please let us know when you're breaking."

"Will do," our leader says. "We'll get this done a lot quicker if you just leave us alone." We walk back and begin working.

—p.111 by David Ranney 1 year, 8 months ago

We go out to the shop floor. It is still very hot in the oven. Even with heavy gloves we can't touch the steel walls. After a half hour we decide to break for ten minutes to get water. When we get back the foreman and several white shirt guys are standing there. We pick up our tools as the foreman speaks, "What did you think you were doing?"

"Taking a break."

"You'll take a break when I tell you to."

The steward tosses a shovel on the ground. We all walk back toward the lunchroom, as our group leader shouts, "Fix the fucking mess yourself, then you can decide when to take breaks."

There is some whispering among the white shirts and the foreman. Then ... "Okay, okay, just please let us know when you're breaking."

"Will do," our leader says. "We'll get this done a lot quicker if you just leave us alone." We walk back and begin working.

—p.111 by David Ranney 1 year, 8 months ago