By a Transcontinental Packaging Worker
Transcontinental Packaging (TCP) has a manufacturing plant in Griffin, Georgia, where I work. Plastic rolls are produced at the plant and printed with various beverage logos such as Coca Cola, Sprite, Sunny D, Yoo Hoo!, and so on. The owners of the plant only care about their profit, not workers, and fail to maintain machinery or enforce safety measures, causing serious injuries to workers.
On Wednesday, October 13, a press operator had his jaw broken and his face slashed when a press exploded and a metal plate shot out towards his head. Myself and a few other workers were the first to see him laying on a platform with blood flowing from his head and teeth stuck in his beard. Paramedics were called and he was taken to Spalding regional hospital before being taken somewhere in Atlanta for further attention. The shift lead informed us that glue that was holding certain parts in the machine together didn’t hold up and lead to the explosion of material. He also told us that the injured worker’s jaw was broken and that he couldn’t remember what happened when he regained consciousness.
One co-worker had to get seven stitches in his thumb after it was jammed through a cardboard core for plastic rolls. This accident was completely avoidable: management placed a sign on the printing press that shows that you’re not supposed to put your thumb on the release button, but to instead use an acrylic finger, i.e. a small plastic rod. However, management did not supply acrylic fingers, allowing a new employee to be hurt severely within his first week.
When speaking to a worker who has been there for 25 years, he complained that he had ‘hospitalization’ insurance rather than health insurance. Workers have to cover the first couple thousand dollars on any medical procedure before their insurance will cover anything, highlighting the failures of the company’s benefits package.
This same man informed me that a former employee had actually died during the COVID-19 outbreak while he worked at TCP, and that the plant management tried to cover it up, stating that he had died because of underlying heart conditions. The man did have heart conditions, but ultimately COVID was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The company is based in Canada, and representatives came down to the Griffin plant for condolences. These reps plainly stated that the employee had died from COVID and completely contradicted what local management was trying to put out.
During my first week, I was assigned to clean the drums in the back of the presses that become cluttered with ink. We use acetone because its one of the best things for scrubbing the ink off the drum. A coworker told me beforehand that multiple people throw up as a result of inhaling the acetone while they’re cleaning, and that I was likely to get high and do the same. After about 20 minutes of cleaning, I needed to come down from the back of the press because the Acetone got to my head and I had to take a seat. I’m not a doctor but I think its safe to say this stuff isn’t good for your health.
One co-worker said that there used to be an automatic cleaning mechanism installed on the back of the press before, but that it was taken out because it took too long to clean the drum. It is yet another instance of the company putting profit and production over the health and safety of the workers.
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