Monday, January 30, 2012

I usually don't post things like this.  However, it concerns me that they seem to squelch any type of negative press about themselves.  I don't like that.  I'm not anti-business, heck I even vote Republican most of the time.  Still, it's places like these that give capitalism a bad name.

First, the news:

I found this on the web and I figured it'd be good press:

Now for the next article:

(Stolen from The Janesville Gazette without permission or their knowledge.  If pressed, I will quote fair-use on the whole thing)

Stoughton Trailers planning to hire 125 workers

By FRANK SCHULTZ ( Contact ) Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012 
— Stoughton Trailers says it plans to hire about 125 production workers in coming months. The hires will be spread among the company’s three plants in Brodhead, Evansville and Stoughton, a spokesman said.

The company is looking mostly for assembly workers but it also needs welders and industrial painters, said company spokesman Keith Wise.

Workers from the Evansville plant who had been working in Brodhead and Stoughton are expected to return to Evansville in about three weeks, said company President Bob Wahlin.

The increase would bring the company’s total employment to about 925 by June, officials said. That’s after adding about 300 workers in 2011.

Stoughton Trailers employment peaked at around 1,600 six years ago but dropped to 250 in 2009.

Stoughton’s main product is the dry van, which is the box-and-chassis combination that makes up those box-shaped semitrailers commonly seen on the highway, Wise said.

Wahlin was quoted as saying shipping has increased, “and a lot of trucking companies are preparing for better economic times.”

Wise said it’s impossible to tell whether the increase in orders might also be due to the fact that shippers who have been keeping their old trailers longer are now being forced to replace them.

Wise said Stoughton Trailers has been responding to more requests for prices recently.
“Historically, what this tells us, when people are buying, is that their freight is increasing,” he said, but more recently, that has not always been the case.

“It’s kind of a crazy industry—a lot of ups and downs,” Wise said.

Stoughton Trailers is generally classified as the fifth-largest producer in the country, Wise said.

Okay, here's my experience with the company.  I know people who have had better experiences, and I also know that I haven't had the worst experience.  
I started working with the company in 2000.  I actually liked it.  I worked second shift and though it was often a lot of overtime, it was pretty good.  I got transferred around as work needed.  When the company needed it, I cancelled planned time off and worked.  I was still learning, so I probably wasn't the best worker there, but I probably was one of the more enthusiastic.  Eventually, the market went south, the industry as a whole tanked, and I lost my job. 

I came back three years later.  Things didn't work out for the other plans I'd made in the meantime and I still had all those good memories from before.  I worked in different areas than I did before and the job took a darker turn.  During the next three years, I suffered broken bones, contusions, cuts requiring real medical attention, and finally a knee injury.  It was the first injury that put me on their shit list - they gave me all the worst jobs they could give in order to get me to leave.  It was the knee injury where they decided they would work to get rid of me. 

Long story short, in order to increase production, they cut safety.  I did what I was told and as a result of those production quotas, they moved the line before I got out of the way.  Blah blah blah.  First, they punished me for staying home when my knee swelled up double its usual size.  I eventually had surgery, which caused me to miss work.  I discovered that they pressured the doctor to return me to work since they would give me light duty.  That duty lasted less than four hours before they decided to put me back on the line.  When I protested, both the safety officer and the company nurse "cleared" me to work. 

Because of the limited recovery time and the nature of the injury itself, I was declared permanently partially disabled.  They kept me working because they had to, though they were annoyed they had to pay for the injury.  Then my Mom died, and despite having a bereavement policy, I was punished and ultimately fired for staying home on the day my Mom died.  Yup.  I don't regret being there for her and would do it again if I had to, but it's pretty pathetic they had to resort to that.

So, my advice to you, if you're going to work at Stoughton Trailers, do it for the least amount of time possible.  The job is hard, and their policies make it harder on the bodies of their workers.  They will work insane hours with forced overtime and then a week later, they will lay everyone off because they couldn't schedule work properly.  If by some chance, your body gives out, they will drop you, regardless of the sacrifices you made for the company.

Now, I want to be honest, I'm not on a crusade against this company.  I don't care about them one way or the other, not anymore.  However, when they use the news media to broadcast their hiring and then use the same media resources to squelch legitimate discussion about their work practices, I tend to get concerned.  The economy is bad, and many people who work there will go there because they've had little choice.  My advice then is to not trust them.  No matter what.  You will be a tool, to be discarded as a tool when necessary.

- Jim