Ansco - GAF
Mr. Michael O'Hara, who is of Irish descent, has an entire family history closely intertwined with ANSCO in Binghamton. His father, Arthur Dunbar O'Hara, was the first chemist to work for ANSCO, and other members of his family worked at ANSCO in different positions (such as his grandfather, father-in-law, and mother-in-law). In 1967, Michael began his career at ANSCO as a chemical packer; he spent one month in training for this job. The workday shifts were from 7am - 3pm, and from 3pm - 11pm. Each shift had 15 workers. As a "batchmaker", he worked mostly with preparing liquids and powders, which were packaged separately into containers ("chemical packers"), to be shipped to consumers - both for commercial and personal use. Because of the potential danger in handling the materials, Mr. O'Hara had to wear a protective facemask while on duty. He did not enjoy the job very much but stuck with it for 6 months when, at the verge of wanting to quit ANSCO, he put in a bid to switch jobs - to the Energies division. He found this division much more agreeable and enjoyed it enough to stay for 31 years. His first job at the Energies division was as a "pump man", which was by his account, the "lowest category" position within the division. This job entailed taking readings of pumps and making sure they were running properly. He worked on a "swing shift" schedule, which were 8 hr shifts from 3pm-11pm, and from 11pm-7am, 365 days/yr with rotating days off. Because it was a demanding job, he often had to work 20 hours a day for 3 shifts in 8 hour shifts. It would regularly effect his sleeping as well as eating hours - machines had to be fixed before anything else could be done. Mr. O'Hara worked as a pump man for 10 years before being promoted to the job of utility operator, where he would work and regulate the various machineries. Mr. O'Hara spent 6 years at this level before being promoted to the rank of operating engineer. He spent 3- 6 months in training for this position. The tasks associated with this job consisted of checking on different machines to see if they were functioning properly (this meant needing to check temperature and humidity regulators necessary for the production of film). Mr. O'Hara stated that his favorite job at ANSCO was as an engineer, because it was "away from production" and it gave him the opportunity for more outdoors work - he stayed there for 13 years. Much like his position at Energies, it involved repairing broken machines. During this job, he entered into a union - International Operating Local 422, which had 50 employee members in Binghamton. Mr. O'Hara noted that every job at Ansco was unionized.
He related the hazards of working in an age where workplace hazards were unknown: factories would often be "coming apart in pieces" with layers of ceiling and wall crumbling from old age and from the moisture of their environments. When this happened, they would take a white, dry powder and applied it moistened onto the holes to seal them. Later this powder, asbestos, was found to be carcinogenic. It was not until International Paper bought the plant, that he was given the proper training about this material and the hazards that go along with it.