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.
Every day when Scott Kummer arrived for work at Kimberly-Clark, he’d wait in his car for his best friend, a man he’d known since sixth grade.
Then, they’d walk together into the plant to start their shifts.
“It felt like the American dream,” he said. “I was making good money and working with good people.”
That came to end late last year when Kummer was one of hundreds of people who lost their jobs at the mill.
At Kimberly-Clark, Kummer worked as a millwright, fixing equipment in the finishing area of the mill.
“Every day it was different,” he said. “You had to use your knowledge and expertise.”
Both of his grandparents worked on the Everett waterfront in the 1940s and ’50s: his grandfather at a pulp mill and his grandmother at a fish company. His grandmother filleted fish standing in ice cold water so Kummer’s mother could have dance lessons as a child.
Everyone Kummer knew as a child worked at a mill. His memories of Everett are integrally entwined with the industry along its waterfront.
Kummer didn’t find work at a mill himself until after serving in the military. He was in the South, making $5 an hour when he had a conversation with a friend working in Everett making twice as much.
That was enough for him to come back to the Northwest and get a job at what was then Scott Paper Co. Later, Kimberly-Clark paid for him to get training as a millwright.
While he felt anger, concern and fear when the closure happened, he’s thankful for what the company did give him. Those skills helped him get a position at Boeing’s Auburn plant as a mechanic.
He’s driving 77 miles each way and spending $50 a day on gas. He’s just thankful to have the work.