FLANGING 96

By 2005 Brighton had recovered.  The two shops were fully integrated.  The Enerfab employees who had been forced to relocate to the Sharonville plant once the head shop at Spring Grove was shut down were either happy with their situation or had quit.  Calvin, a flanger operator, didn’t like our machines at all, and took an early retirement.  Bob, a press operator, didn’t like working at our shop and got a disability for his back.  Of course, the welders could come and go as they pleased.  All the Enerfab welders who transferred to Sharonville eventually transferred back.  So the Enerfab employees who were still here at the beginning of 2005 were satisfied with their situation.  Also by 2005, nearly all of the Brighton employees who hadn’t been hired by Enerfab in December of 2002 had been called back.  They lost their seniority, of course, but they had their old jobs back.  The ones who didn’t come back had either found better jobs, or Brighton didn’t want them back.

So by 2005 Brighton was up to full strength, with enough work for the shop.  More than enough work.  Enerfab’s policy is to schedule as much overtime as the workers can bear.  It was more profitable for them to pay time and a half and double time for overtime than to hire more workers, who had to be trained and paid full benefits.  I had never worked so much overtime in my life.  Brighton had always had some overtime.  There were times when the shop would get flooded with work, and we were expected to get the work done no matter how many hours it took.  But with Enerfab it was a steady deluge.  Five 10-hour days, with 5 to 8 hours on Saturday, and another 5 hours on Sunday.  Week after week.  I drew the line on Sunday.  I was in my 50’s by then, and I needed some rest.  According to the contract, Enerfab could schedule as much overtime as was necessary.  But as a policy they never scheduled more than 50 hours a week.  Everything over that was voluntary.  I almost always volunteered for Saturday.  I only turned it down if there was something important going on.  So if I came in Saturday, I was almost always asked to work 5 hours Sunday.  Which I always turned down.  But a lot of guys worked Sundays.  Some men would go months at a time without taking a day off.

Enerfab never had 3 shifts.  It was always 2, with overtime to keep the shop open around the clock if need be.  I worked some 12 shifts, but not many.  Mostly 10 hours a day.  The usual start time for first shift was 6:30 AM.  But working 10 hours, we would start at 4:30 AM.  Which meant I’d need to get up for work at 3:30 AM.  So to get 6 hours sleep, which I rarely did, I had to get to bed by 9:30 PM.  I did this for 10 years or so.  You can get used to anything.

I could have turned down more overtime.  But you were expected to work when asked  If not enough people volunteered, it no longer was voluntary.  They would schedule the overtime.  But I rarely turned it down.  I was glad to get it.  My last 10 to 12 years working for Enerfab not only was I able to save up a lot of money for retirement, but it really added a lot to my pension, which was based on how many hours I worked.  So all this work came at a good time in my life.  It just wore me out.

There was a slowdown.  From sometime in 2008 to sometime in 2010 the Great Recession hit us.  Work dried up.  For a while we only worked 40 hours a week.  So we talked Mark L. into scheduling 4 10-hour days.  It was great.  We had a 3-day weekend every week.  I really enjoyed having Fridays off.  My wife was babysitting two grandchildren at the time, so on Fridays we’d go places with them.  But it didn’t last.  As things got slower, people were laid off.  Then when things picked up a little we needed to  work 10 hours on Friday to make up for the laid-off people.  Soon having Fridays off was a thing of the past, and we started working Saturdays, too.  By by the time everyone was called back to work, it was the same grueling schedule as before.

The final year I worked, 2016, I turned down every Saturday.  Mark didn’t mind, since he knew I was retiring at the end of the year.  That seemed so relaxing, having every Saturday off.  Now I have every day off.  Even more relaxing.

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