By Debra Smith Herald Writer
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.
Mike Hazen came home from work in 1992 to find a television news crew sitting in his driveway. He was working at a Weyerhaeuser mill in Everett and the mill had just announced it was closing.
Reporters wanted his reaction on what it meant for him and his family.
At first, it was devastating. But he found work at Scott Paper Co., and was happy there for a few years — until Kimberly-Clark took over. Concerned about the future of the mill, he took a job in King County but eventually came back to the mill.
He worked as a mechanic in the pulp mill. If machinery broke in that mill, it was his job to fix it. That’s a tall order with some machinery dating back to the 1930s. It was grubby, hard work.
Hazen enjoyed the independence and the problem solving. About the only thing he didn’t care for were the many work meetings.
The closure announcement came as a surprise.
“Crap,” he remembers thinking, “Here it goes again.”
With his mechanic skills, he quickly found work at Boeing. Now it’s his kids he worries about. Their skills don’t convert as easily to a high-paying job at Boeing. His son A.J. Hazen was supporting his wife and new baby with a job at the same mill running a machine. His step-son worked at the mill, too.
“How are you going to buy anything if you ain’t making nothing?” he said. “Nobody has any disposable income.”
The family used to be loyal, only buying products that came from Kimberly-Clark. Not anymore.
“You want to leave — see ya,” he said.