Worker education counters Sanford displacement

Friday, November 21, 2008

As Lewisburg's mayor advocates better education to insulate workers from plant closings, comments from some former Sanford employees tend to substantiate the point.

"The day is over when you can drop out of high school and get a factory job and stay there all your life," Mayor Bob Phillips said in response to the "emotional closing" of Sanford's pencil factory.

"A lot of teenagers got initiated into the work world" at the pencil factory that's been on Spring Place Road for decades, Phillips said.

Within a year, 268 Sanford employees and 87 temporary employment agency workers won't have jobs at Sanford's plant here, officials said last week. It's a result of Sanford's reorganization.

Former Sanford employees are working throughout Lewisburg now and have commented about their experience at the plant.

"I left because the job was boring," said Christy Russell who worked at the plant for about a year that ended about two years ago. The work was "day after day of placing pencils and erasers in bubble packs."

She "thought it would be like a summer job," and before leaving Sanford she found another job.

JoAn Tears worked for Sanford for 21 years, largely in production, but worked at a variety of tasks. She "lost the job" under circumstances she declined to detail, but commented, "Nobody understood what I went through until it started happening to them."

She now works for another factory.

"I didn't agree with the way I lost my job, but the Lord saw me through it and I really hate it for the people who are losing their jobs," Tears said.

"I have some good memories from there when it was Faber Casteel," Tears said.

She agrees that pencils are out of date and indicated that she was surprised that the pencil factory here stayed open as long as it did.

Manufacturing of pens was shifted to Shelbyville and pencil making was left here, she said.