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Factory Workers

March 3, 2013 | By Nikil Saval
When the first modern office buildings sprung up in America at the end of the 19th century, it was an unquestioned expectation that employees would show up for work there every day. Like the factory workers who came before them, office workers usually clocked in and out, and they sat at their desks - most arranged in highly regimented rows - from morning until early evening, under constant supervision. Even trips to the water cooler were often monitored. With the development of computers and more advanced telecommunications in the 1970s, some employees began to imagine a day when it might be possible to work from home, free from oversight and more in control of their work day. Today, working from home is becoming so common that the idea of making every employee come into the office five days a week seems almost tyrannical.
They may have bigger cars, larger apartments or new VCRs but, a year after winning a share of a $41-million jackpot, 19 of 21 factory workers are still working on an assembly line. "We're not poor, but we're not millionaires," said Kevin Fleming. The men, from 14 countries, had pooled their money and wound up with one of three winning tickets in the Aug. 21, 1985, New York state lottery drawing, which had a jackpot of $41 million to be paid out over 20 years.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina plans to introduce a resolution next week asking that officials consider restoring an industrial health program that critics say would benefit Latinos and others who toil in factories countywide, Molina's spokesman said Friday. Responding to a Times report on Latino factory workers, Molina "found it deplorable that government has turned its back on workers under the guise of budgetary constraints," spokesman Robert Alaniz said. Los Angeles County had an industrial health unit but dismantled it amid budget concerns more than 10 years ago--in apparent violation of state law, The Times found.
FMC Corp.'s farm-chemical business is humming. The result is that Allen Bailey worked all but four days between November and June--including weekends, including Christmas, including the first anniversary of his wedding to Sharon Bailey. Sixty-hour, seven-day workweeks are standard for the chemical technician. At least twice a month he works 16 hours straight.
While work-related fatalities throughout California and the United States have declined dramatically over the last century, death on the job has remained a fact of life. Nearly 10,000 workers were killed in 1991, according to the most recent figures available from the National Safety Council. Factory workers accounted for an estimated 800 of those deaths. In Los Angeles County in 1992, at least 10 people died in manufacturing-related accidents, including eight Latinos, coroner's records show.
July 9, 2006 | Chris Kraul, Times Staff Writer
In his classic 1936 film, "Modern Times," Charlie Chaplin has to work so fast tightening bolts in a steel factory that he finally goes crazy. In a memorable scene that has become a metaphor for labor exploitation, the Little Tramp is run through the factory's enormous gears. For President Hugo Chavez's socialist government, the film is more than just entertainment: It's become a teaching tool.
January 5, 2003 | Evelyn Iritani And Richard Boudreaux, Times Staff Writers
Driving along the gritty streets here, Kunio Marukawa used to cringe when a souped-up car blaring loud music pulled up next to him. Nowadays, the Japanese executive looks approvingly at those drivers and offers a silent prayer of thanks. "Those crazy guys are our best customers," said the San Diego-based vice president of Pioneer Corp.'s Pioneer Speaker Systems.
December 3, 2006 | P.J. Huffstutter, Times Staff Writer
After spending most of his working life on an assembly floor at Ford Motor Co., Harold Jackson wasn't expecting many offers as he trudged into a job fair at the union hall. Here he was, a 40-year-old factory worker in a state that has lost about 110,000 auto jobs over the last six years. But John Riddle, a recruiter for CSX Transportation Inc., pressed forward out of the crowd to shake his hand. "Ever thought about moving to the East Coast? Ever wanted to be a train conductor?"
January 12, 2012 | By Jerry Hirsch, Los Angeles Times
The U.S. auto industry plans to add thousands of jobs this year as sales continue to rebound and automakers look to produce more cars in the United States to sidestep currency woes overseas. The growth in domestic manufacturing is coming as U.S. auto sales are recovering from historic lows during the recession. "The yen, the euro, all the currencies that affect the manufacturers' balance sheets, except for the dollar, are in flux. So the only way to hedge is to build where you sell," said Rebecca Lindland, an analyst with IHS Automotive.
September 27, 2012 | Bloomberg News
Security teams wearing riot helmets and wielding plastic shields marched around a Foxconn Technology Group factory that had been the scene of a fight involving 2,000 workers. The campus used by 79,000 workers in Taiyuan in northern Shanxi province showed the damage caused by the Sunday clash among laborers that left more than 40 people hospitalized. Windows in a bathhouse, supermarket, arcade and parked cars were shattered. Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou has moved in recent years to improve conditions at his factories after a spate of suicides.
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