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Pictures & Stories by Workers & Family of UAW Local 465

Through These Doors

by Georgia Bell

As I walked through the doors to the Chevrolet Plant that day in 1978, I thought that this has to be the most frightening day of all time. What was it like to be hired to work in a manufacturing plant in 1978, when it was not "cool."

I left a $2.00 per hour job as a Stenographer, and took the "Machine Operator-General" job paying $6.32 per hour. It was the chance of a lifetime; it meant I could give my 3 kids a good life. Being the sole provider for 3 young children, with no chance of getting any child support-I would do what I had to do-work in the mill-become one of the women at GM in 1978.

I was taken to the middle of the plant to the Chip System, on my first day. Actually, it was the second shift. A guy named John Brainard was my trainer. Do this-do this-don't do that-don't let the fire get too hot-yikes, I was scared! Fire and I do not get along! John would make me run the system by myself when he had to go in the pits to shovel more chips. I tried to keep the fire under control, but to no avail. Fire out the front of the huge cylinder-fire out the back! Hit the sprinklers and nothing but smoke! He'd come running and bring it all under control. God, if I ever learn this job!

Jeff Burns, No Time
This is a project that my son and I started a year ago. Lately its getting hard to find time to work on it. With him going to college in Canton and working three or four nights a week something's have to be put off. Maybe we'll get to it before we move away.

When I was reduced out of the Chip System, I was sent to shovel scraps of metal out of a huge pile of dirt and metal. Apparently, one of the General Foremen decided I wasn't shoveling fast enough, so he wanted me fired. I called the Union Committeeman (not because I knew enough to, but because one of the guys told me to) and I was hauled into the office. Evidently, Charlie (the GF) thought I was brand new and did not know that I had a whomping 45 days, therefore had union representation. Charlie the woman hater, yep, that's what he was called. He hated women and was bound and determined he wanted to fire one of us! And so it was-he found a girl with less than 30 days (no union representation) and, you got it, he fired her!

The next thing I knew, I was on a die cast machine right directly in front of the office (so they-management-could keep an eye on me!) After I had my 2 minute training, the foreman came on my platform and said "when the die opens, you be there with those channel locks and get that part out-you've got to keep the die hot to make good parts!" I thought to myself, oh God, what have I gotten myself into-I don't want to be here! It was so hot-so dangerous with liquid metal blowing everywhere-out from between the dies-out the launder spout-I don't want to be here-I don't want to be here!

Every day for weeks, I'd sit in my car and cry because I didn't want to go in that place! Some of the guys would see me and stop at the car and coax me in the door by saying "Come on, you can make it!" And I did!


Tammy Arquiett-Burns,
If We Could Only See
Around the corner, over the hill, what's ahead. Please, dear God, help me to know the right decision for my family.

Cindy Lavean
My favorite chair
A self portrait

Lydia Marlar
What Is She Up To?
Is she going to tickle you? Is she going to make a face at you? Is she going to say something and her teeth fall down? Is she just going to get up and dance? What ever she does it is always so cute because she is my mom!

Ray Thibault
Skilled Trades
Without an industrial based society I would not have the skills I do.