Sabotage in a saw mill

An account of everyday sabotage in a saw mill by Crawdad, a mill worker.

Submitted by libcom on December 30, 2005

The Fort Bragg Redwood sawmill is owned by Georgia-Pacific, a large company with interests in building materials and chemicals. Workers used to call bomb threats into the company. They waited until 1:00 pm on Fridays, in spring, when it was balmy and glorious. They would call the dispatcher, the same person they called in sick to, and say "I put four charges of plastique in the powerhouse. It goes off at 4:00. Nobody works today!" and hang up. Then they'd get a cold-pack and a gram of hash and drive out to the river. The tactic quit working around July, when it wore out from overuse. The dispatcher was instructed not to tell anybody, and no one looked for the bombs anymore.

The bomb-threat callers only wanted the occasional afternoon off, and took advantage of the political struggle then taking place between ownership, woodsworkers and the first wave of reform minded hippies and political radicals, who made it a point not to get jobs in mills or timber.

Another favourite (but rarely successful) tactic is to drop metal and glass into the Hog, a machine which chops wood trimmings and waste into Hog fuel, or chips and dust to be burned for power generation. A metal detector and a full-time worker guard the Hog against such foreign objects, although the odd aluminum soda can and will get by, and everyone then enjoys a half-day or so of relaxation while millwrights attend to the damaged blades. The mill loses between $100 and $200 per minute while the Hog is broken. Anyone caught intentionally dropping foreign material onto the Hog-feed chain is subject to stern discipline including termination, so it is not done lightly. Equipment breakdowns are fairly common events, and I always enjoyed them to the fullest while bosses got all red-faced and stood around wishing they could fix it with a hammer.

I suppose sabotage also might include hiding between the loads of lumber with three or four buddies and copping a buzz. At least half the workers I know are regular marijuana users, and their motive is to reclaim their minds, or at least to render them useless to the company. It's also a way to relieve the crushing monotony. They've instituted pre-employment urinalysis since my day, and they work harder at propagandising the smoker against seeking peace through drugs, but let's be honest about this: getting a mill job is the quickest way to get on drugs. Speed is not quite as common as pot, but the effects are more profound and users are truly dedicated. And then there's alcohol.

Acts of sabotage are likely to be appreciated by some workers. Many seem to have no opinion. Others are so much in debt that they find ways to work even when their co-workers are sent home, and they are against sabotage.

This is an edited extract from Sabotage in the American Workplace by Martin Sprouse taken from

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