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.
For five years, Vicki Barnett and Trixie Miles shared a job in the storeroom on the same shift at Kimberly-Clark, but their connections to the mill run far deeper — back to the company that hired them, Scott Paper.
Both women raised families, bought homes and built lives working for what they remember as a more “family-oriented” company.
For Barnett, Scott’s truly was a family affair.
Her father and her mother, a brother, an uncle and cousins all worked for Scott Paper at one time. Her mother started working at the mill when Barnett was in grade school, and her mother was still there when Barnett hired on as summer help, planning to work just long enough to buy a car.
Barnett ended up staying 38 years.
“I can honestly say, had I not worked there, I probably wouldn’t be as fortunate as I am today,” she said.
Both women met their husbands working at the mill. Barnett and her husband, Les Barnett, even worked as partners on the same machine together for seven years. “24-7 we were together.”
For Miles, who retired last May after 35 years at the mill, getting her job at Scott Paper was a huge step. Her mother raised five kids, and Miles was the first in her family to get a great-paying job with benefits.
“I was the first one in my family to get a really, what you’d consider, a really good life-saving job,” she said. “So I felt very fortunate.”
The job was not easy to get either. Before going in to apply, Miles heard that you had to be at least 5-foot-2 to get the job. Miles stood an inch short.
So she stuffed insoles into her socks before going to the interview. It worked — she was hired.
Both women worry about the future — not so much for themselves — but for the next generation. Decent-paying jobs are more important than ever, Barnett said.
“I don’t think putting a park and recreation or a mall (at the Kimberly-Clark site) is going to help families.”