Submitted to the The Institute of Northern Ontario Research and Development (INORD) Working Paper Series, June 30, 2000
Jennifer Keck, Ph.D. Associate Professor – School of Social Work
Mary Powell, Ph.D. Associate Professor – Department of Political Science
Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario
Getting Started: ‘You got dirty and tired but you showered… and the pay was good’
Like their male co-workers the women began as process labourers. The work involved shoveling, sweeping, hosing down dirty areas and in some cases painting and unloading supplies. The women responded to the first day with more than the usual apprehension.
“You have no idea what to expect… when we first walked in we saw these flotation cells and they’re all bubbling and its seems like it’s really hot, it was very scary… walking over the grating and looking down three floors…I had never seen this kind of machinery in my life.”
It took awhile to get used to the heavy machinery and the noise, dirt and smell of an industrial work environment.
“In the mill it was really dirty, from the time you walked in you were dirty. Like I got dirty just looking at it. There was a smell of lime, varsol and sometimes when the gas was coming in you’d have to sit in the lunch room. Lots of noise. It’s like nothing in your experience… it’s not like walking into an office cause everybody knows what an office looks like.”