Manufacturing isn’t dead; it’s changing. Small and large shops open and close for more reasons than just market forces. Large conglomerates make decisions based on beliefs and bias I can’t fathom. A small shop where the owner works next to you can pay a fair wage and give a worker a feeling of self-worth. But in a large company, which is only part of a larger group, which is part of a conglomerate bloc, which is in part supported by the European Union, well, you feel overwhelmed with insignificance. But my fellow workers at Winchester’s needed and cared for each other. That made walking into the factory more than bearable.

The bosses said the union must cooperate and be more productive. So we gave them what they wanted, we produced more and faster. As we progressed deeper in this process, called a “high performance work order,” we began to cross over into what they said was their business and they told us to back off. We continued to try to do what we thought was best, thinking we were saving our jobs.

You might think the people who maintained the machines would be involved in the discussions on how to improve production. I was told by management that we have more important things to do. We who involved ourselves in the union insisted we could help. We saw problems in procedures and daily practice which we brought forward. I saw for myself those in management who understood and appeared to support our input. But for the most part I was in awe of the resistance and ignorance of the first tier of management. The bosses on the floor all reacted with angry statements like “It always worked that way before.” But they themselves couldn’t make a part or even recognize a good part from scrap. Truth, knowledge and facts were ignored.

Management opinion was they had enough dealing with us inferior, ignorant and lazy people. Bosses went back to the role they were most comfortable with, pushers of people and paperwork. With little hope left the union workers went back to the old order, hoping the agreements made in the past would keep the factory open. That didn’t happen.

We haven’t given up fighting for what the contract called for. We haven’t lost hope to get what the neighborhood deserves and the workers that worked all those years doing the best they could making products that they were proud of.

— D. Roy, a worker in Connecticut