Voices of the mill: Joe Reed, 51, of Everett

In this series, we’re telling the stories of what the Kimberly-Clark mill closure means for workers and for Everett, which has been defined by mills for more than a century.

Right out of high school, Joe Reed didn’t want to go college so his father told him to get a job.

Even though Reed didn’t want to do shift work like his father, he found himself putting an application into the same place his father had worked for years: Scott Paper Co.

Eventually he worked his way up to machine tender, a high-prestige job that put him at the helm of a gigantic machine that turned pulp into paper.

He’s spent most of his time at machine No. 4, which is four-stories tall and produces napkins.

He’s still working at the mill loading trailers, even though the machine he ran has been shut down. He’s watched workers dismantle it and bring it out of the mill piece by piece. He’s been told it is on its way to Arlington for storage and eventually it will be shipped to China.

“A lot of people avoid walking through the paper mill,” he said. “It’s just depressing to walk through and see it being taking apart.”

His wife, Amy, worked at the mill for a decade, too. Both of their families have strong ties to Everett’s mills. The smells and sounds of industry were the backdrops of their childhoods.

She walked the picket lines with her father. She went to union meetings and company picnics. The paper mill was engraved in their lives. Everyone they knew worked at the mill.

When her father first moved to the area, he had a choice between Boeing and the mills and he chose mill work, which seemed more secure. As he put it, airplanes were a luxury and toilet paper was not.

“I’m really glad he’s not here to see this,” Amy Reed said of the closure.

They may have to go out of state to find work.

Starting fresh at Boeing won’t pay as well and Joe Reed wouldn’t have any seniority. They’d rather not leave the Northwest, but what choice do they have?

More in Local News

Longboarders from near and far hit the trail in Arlington

The Centennial Sk8 Festival was serious competition for some and just for fun for others.

Signs show the rates for using the express toll lanes for traffic headed southbound on Interstate 405, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in Bothell, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee announced plans Tuesday to try to decrease congestion on I-405 in answer to commuter complaints that the new express lane tolling system is making traffic worse. The governor said he would not be shutting down the tolling system as some people have called for. But the state transportation department is making plans to add new northbound general purpose lanes to ease some of the congestion and also plan to make it easier to move into and out of the express lanes. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
After a 2-year trial, are I-405’s toll lanes here to stay?

Lawmakers will decide whether to keep them or end the experiment and try something else.

Weary drivers using toll lanes say they have little choice

Congestion continues to be a tedious reality for commuters on I-405, which is as clogged as ever.

Council passes six-month moratorium on safe injection sites

Proposal by County Councilman Nate Nehring passed unanimously.

Terrace woman held following collision in Everett

The three occupants in vehicle were transported to a local hospital in serious condition.

Information sought on drive-by shooting in Everett

Debris from an apparent crash, evidence of gunfire found in the 2800 block of California Street.

Crews recover body of man who fell over Wallace Falls

The area where the man fell is called Sky Valley Lookout, 2.4 miles from the parking lot.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

This week’s Herald Super Kid is Nathan Nicholson of Snohomish High School. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
‘The future is biotech,’ but for now he’s busy with everything

Snohomish senior Nathan Nicholson is a student leader and media master.

Most Read