Chrysler Auto Workers Caught Drinking During Lunch, Possibly Smoking Pot (with VIDEO)
Uh, yeah, they are acting like this is brand new thing - NEWS, even. Yes, it's very bad behavior but this kind of thing has been going on for a long, long time. It's not all autoworkers who are inebriated at work, but I think it's enough to matter.
I was an auto assembler from 1976 to 1979. It was damned hard physical work and in summer it got up to 125° at my station/part of the line (and it wasn't the hottest area there). It's not only hard work, it's really, really boring. You are stuck in the same place doing the same thing over and over and over again. In this place a car went by about once a minute, so there was time to do whatever it was but falling behind couldn't happen. We put in 53 hours a week for 3 weeks, then 45 hours the 4th week (when we would have Saturday off). Like I said, it was hot, and also really filthy - everything was covered in grime, there were mice and roaches, very poor ventilation and heavy machinery going everywhere, hydraulic tools, forklifts, sexual harassment, pranks (those were usually OK), loud noise and lots of crap. Mostly, the biggest problem was boredom.
I was in my early-mid-20s, and was having as much fun as I could, working hard and partying hard.
During our half-hour lunch, a lot of people hit the nearby bar or convenience store, and guzzle or smoke as much as possible within the time limit. Then, if that wasn't enough, during the shift many had flasks, liquored thermoses, cocaine, whatever could be sneaked.
We got a week off for Christmas, and on that last work day there would be approved parties in some of the work areas - and there would be a punch bowl. It would end up spiked at the source or in the cup. I remember a Christmas party where one guy was so drunk they had to practically carry him to the time clock at the end of the shift, and with his time card placed in his hand, someone else held his hand to clock him out. It was strictly against the rules to clock out another person. We all knew that if you were buying a Big-Three car, it would be wise to make sure it wasn't assembled on the last day for Xmas break.
The foremen were not in on this. They knew about a lot of it, but none of it was officially tolerated. They could look the other way - or not - depending on how they felt like dealing with it. See, if they sent you home, they had to get somebody to do your job NOW. It was a hell of a lot worse for a worker to not be there, because a job on the assembly line can't wait. The line has to keep moving to keep up the profit$.
The guy a couple of stations down from me was a hard-core drunk (and by that I mean he was a lot drunker than anybody else at any given time). He could easily drink a whole bottle of something (and now I can't remember whether he preferred whiskey, gin or vodka) in the course of a day - every day. One day he came in so drunk already that he leaned over to do a job and just kept going... passed out. The foreman was mad as hell, and he got him up and sent him home. The guy left and crashed his car. He wasn't killed, just banged up pretty good. His job was to install the passenger-side seat belt.
I was already a carouser when I started working there, but it was during that time that I started to snap out of it. I got religion for awhile (substituting one damned thing for another one) and eventually gave up the weed and cut the booze waaaay down. The only thing that kept me from ending up as a laid-off factory worker with no skills was the fact that I got myself back in school - taking classes in my spare time. At first I decided to become a draftsman (a "skilled trade" they called it), then set my sights higher on technical illustration - figuring I'd probably have to move to Detroit at some point, as that kind of work was only done at World HQs. (Thanks to the layoffs and plant closings, I never went to Detroit.)
My skilled trade studies and eventual 4-yr degree (even though acquired at age 40) and the smarts I was born with turned out to be the things that saved me better than baby jesus, because the auto industry did not end up providing a future for me. Ever since my first office job in the mid-1980s, I've gotten by without excessive back-breaking work and in fairly safe and pleasant working conditions.
So far, anyway.
And I'm never bored out of my head.
More blue-collar tales here.