27 September 2007

Efficiency Eavesdropping

About 20 feet from the worktable where I break blades and build sets is a little table next to a wall covered with charts and lists about productivity and efficiency. That table is where the supervisors (Paul and Joe), foremen (Melvin and Mike), and a girl I don't know much about (I call her "Miss Priss" in my head because she looks very stuck-up) have their daily meeting with Luc. Occasionally smaller meetings/conversations go on there, and if most of the machines are off and I'm at the worktable, I can sort of hear what's being said.

Yesterday Luc and Joe spent fifteen minutes talking about the division of labor in the shop, and how best to apply the skills of our current welders/assemblers and the one(s) starting in the next few weeks. I got the impression that Joe was trying to get Luc to approve hiring three or four more people so each person could focus on one task instead of, for example, the five tasks I do. I also got the impression that Luc was hesitant to agree, doing mental math to see whether the income from increased productivity would balance out the wages of three or four more employees.

Luc is in a difficult position. He's seen as the enemy, both because his English isn't flawless and because his job is to rock the boat. The supervisors are trying to work with him, but I can tell that they get frustrated when he doesn't agree with them. Paul and Joe have been at this job for a long time, they know each stop on our little assembly line, they can do our jobs, they know what each employee's skills are, and... Luc doesn't. He looks at numbers. He makes decisions for the company based on those numbers. It remains to be seen whether his decisions turn out to be good ones.

Coming Next: The Chopping Block

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