When I reported to work at the Sharonville plant early in January of 2003 right after the holidays, I was surprised at how empty it was. Nearly everybody was still at Enerfab on Spring Grove in Cincinnati. Larry F. was foreman. He was the only person in the office. The only other flanger operator was Ron N. Bob O. was the sole maintenance man (Bob A., the other maintenance Bob, was at Spring Grove teaching people there how to do maintenance work). There were two Enerfab employees, Dan H. and Joe L., who had transferred to the Sharonville plant to run flanging machines. Which, Larry informed me, they had quickly given up on. I doubt if Ron N. had offered them much help. By the time I got there they had moved onto presses, which they were much more comfortable operating. There was one welder who had transferred from Spring Grove. And that was it.
Boy, did I feel good. It was such a relief to go back to work in familiar surroundings. Only there wasn’t a lot of work to do. The sales force, which was now located in the office at Spring Grove that I, Curt W., and Al H. had moved furniture into, was explaining the new situation to our old customers, and it took months to get orders for work coming back in. So I spent a lot of time operating the polishing machine. It seems like we always had repair work to do on scratched up heads, and I was the only one there who could run the polisher. It was now located in the very back of the large airy pickle room, which meant I was very cold that January and February. But no matter what, I was happy to be away from all the craziness at Spring Grove.
I split my time between running a small flanging machine and the polisher. It was weird with the place being so empty, after the crush of bodies working at Spring Grove. But slowly that spring people began returning to the Sharonville plant. The plan was that since all the Enerfab employees had seniority on us, any of them who wanted to transfer to Sharonville was allowed to. Joe L. and Dan H. and one welder were the only ones to have done so by the time I returned. Then Mark L. was going to bring the employees back according to their Brighton seniority. I was supposed to be the first flanger operator back. Only Ron N. had jumped the gun (after working only 3 days at Spring Grove). The first press operator to return was Jerry W. The first person in the office to come back was the maintenance supervisor, Matt H. Then slowly but surely others trickled back.
Also, other Enerfab employees transferred from Spring Grove to Sharonville. One I was delighted to see was Clint M., since he was a polisher and could take over operating the polishing machine. Once he was back I stayed on a flanging machine. By that time work was starting to pick up again and I had plenty of heads to flange. People continued to trickle back in until, sometime that fall, the head shop was officially moved from Spring Grove to Sharonville. So after about 9 months, everything was nearly back to normal. The original Enerfab employees moved out here, also. There were 3 flanger operators who came, Calvin and Jeff and some young guy I can’t remember the name of, and 1 other press operator. Plus their shipping department, Mike and Lonnie F. And several welders. And several flanging machines and presses of theirs were brought from Spring Grove. And my favorite flanging machine was returned.
Few of the old Spring Grove employees stayed very long. The one young flanger operator I didn’t know the name of didn’t last any time at all. After he complained to Larry F. for months that we weren’t producing heads the “Enerfab” way, he finally realized no one was paying any attention to him and transferred back to Spring Grove. The press operator who had transferred, Bob, soon got a disability for his back and retired. The flanger operator Calvin took an early retirement after working less than a year at Sharonville. The welder transferred back to Spring Grove. The only Spring Grove employees who stuck with the Sharonville plant were the flanger operator Jeff (who also ran a press), the press operators Joe L. and Dan H., the polisher Clint M., and the shipping clerks Mike and Lonnie F. And as the others transferred back or retired or quit, and as work continued to increase, Mark L. called back former employees who hadn’t initially been offered a job back in December of 2002. They were re-hired as new employees, but they got their old jobs back.
The seniority situation was complicated. All Enerfab employees had seniority over us. But the seniority of the original Brighton employees was maintained if there was no interruption of their employment, if they went from working for Brighton on December 10 in 2002 to working for Enerfab on December 11. People who were called back to work later were treated as new employees. Enefab also agreed to recognize our seniority as it pertained to our vacations. Which meant I still got 3 weeks vacation, I didn’t have to start over with only one. Enerfab really did treat us well. I’m sure there were a lot of headaches working all this out with the Boilermakers Union. Which I joined in March of 2003. But more about that, and all the frictions that remained between the old Brighton and the Enerfab employees, in another post.