Archive

Posts Tagged ‘factory’

Production Jobs…More than the sterotypes suggest.

January 29, 2014 Leave a comment

I have been working in production now for six years and have come across a similar reaction when describing my job to friends and family. That well it won’t be forever look and the consoling words that come from the desk jockeys who have never operated an industrial machine in their lives can be infuriating.
Indeed the fairytale of WWII factory workers building the equipment to safe the lives of American soldiers overseas has long since devolved away to an all time low, in my almost humble opinion. Low Education, Loves physical labor, bottom of the barrel…such is the stereotype of the American factory worker.

I started looking around the web for some comforting news about the image of factory workers. My google search first turned up a yahoo answers page. The question (What is the stereotype of a factory worker?) was answered by three people:
1.PepperEva said, “They had some tough luck. Maybe they made bad choices, maybe things happened that they couldn’t control, maybe they like working a factory. Maybe they want to run one some day. I generally just think, huh, a job. I doubt I’ll get a steady job doing what I love. I’ll probably take the work I can get and do what I love in my free time.”
2.Apple Jacks said, “uneducated.”
3.Vanessa said, “Poor.”

…not a very reassuring find for the image of the factory worker.

The Actuality

As I was bouncing around safety blogs and came across an article in http://www.impomag.com that gave some stark facts that describe the reality of factory workers. The article was written by Nancy Syverson, Managing Editor. It is entitled, “Who Works in Your Plant? A Profile of Today’s American Factory Worker.”

Today’s factory workers are educated and well paid

Syverson’s article had some facts:

Myth: Factory workers are low paid.
•Fact: According to recent reports, the average manufacturing wage is $54,000 per year, 18% higher than the average U.S. wage.

Myth: Factory workers are high-school dropouts.
•Fact: Some 78% of the manufacturing workforce has a high-school or greater education.

Myth: Factory jobs require vocational education, which attracts students who are less qualified in other areas.
•Fact: According to NAM, today’s manufacturers seek a range of skills that include hands-on abilities as well as math, science and computer use.

Myth: You have to be a union member to work in a factory.
•Fact: Unions represents only about 20% of all factory workers, down from 25% five years ago. Currently 22 right-to-work states give factory workers the choice of belonging to a union or not.

Myth: The burden of benefit costs have been shifted to the employee in manufacturing as in other industries.
•Fact: More than 80% of manufacturers still pay the bulk of employees’ medical benefits, including dental.

Myth: Factory work requires physical labor and can be dangerous.
•Fact: Certain factory work will always require physical labor, but automation and ergonomic awareness have reduced that type of work, resulting in a 40% decrease in workplace injuries over the past decade.

Using current demographic data, a new picture of the modern factory worker emerges. Tough, hardworking and determined, America’s factory workers are faced with challenges that often require more smarts than strength.

Some further digging found an article published in http://www.breakingout.net by Kevin Wells. His article Why It’s Important to Cut Loose contrasts working in production and working in a cubical. “The term “factory workers” doesn’t have to be taken literally,” Wells says, “Most people in the Western world nowadays are actually office workers, but – same difference. In the West, office work is the new factory work. When I worked in offices the people I encountered were pretty much the same as the old factory worker stereotype. It makes not a jot of difference whether you are blue collar or white collar.”

My Experience

I work with Pepperidge Farm in Bloomfield Connecticut, where we make an enormous amount of Bread and Stuffing.  I can count a half-dozen other employees I personally deal with daily on the production floor that have at least a Bacheller’s degree. Pepperidge Farm pays better than most jobs in the area and we all know that there are lists of people waiting to get a shot working here. The factory uses more machines than manual labor, which creates the rise of computer savvy machine operators. These operators are highly skilled problem solvers who invest themselves in the million-dollar machines they operate.

Yes the American factory worker is in dire need of a PR campaign. This down-and-out reputation does not reflect the dedication, education and technical skill that is mandatory in today’s workforce.

Advertisements