By Steve Powell
MARYSVILLE — Doug Hodgson’s last day at Boeing was Friday, but he’s better prepared than many of his co-workers.
Because he took advantage of what Boeing had to offer.
By using the company’s Quality Through Training Program, he hopes to be working again in just a few weeks — not at Boeing, but as a deck hand.
"Not enough of our people have taken advantage of it," he said of the training program.
Hodgson will start his retraining Jan. 7 at a marine technology school in Seattle. After the three-week course, he hopes to pass a Coast Guard test and be certified as an able-bodied seaman so he can work on the docks, and, he hopes, someday on a tugboat.
Hodgson, 46, who has a wife and three children, loves the water. He worked for six years for Boeing, but for 20 years he was a commercial fisherman.
"I never figured to retire at Boeing," he said. "I just thought I’d jump on the bandwagon while I could."
So, he sees this as an opportunity to get back to doing something he loves.
"I was brought up on the water," he said. "The worst day fishing is better than any day at work."
Hodgson said the counselor at the training program was a big help. He was connected to a job that he will like, and one where there is a need. But he was fortunate to get in early.
"Now there are appointments until the end of the month for those who waited so long," Hodgson said.
He also was looking ahead months ago when he started taking computer classes through the same training program. He took about three courses over four months.
"I wish I would have started using it sooner," he said. "I was illiterate at computers."
It sure wasn’t easy for the 1973 Mariner High School graduate.
"It was a drag after work to go do that," he said, adding he wasn’t serious about education in high school. "We’d always take off for the beach in the car.
"I thought I was going to fail for sure," he said of the computer classes. "Change can be scary."
A precinct caucus officer in Marysville and now former interiors mechanic at Boeing, Hodgson said he doesn’t like that some people are blaming the machinists union during these hard times.
"I understand people are upset," he said. "I feel sorry for myself and everyone else.
"But I can’t see blaming the union. We’ve reaped the benefits. It’s been a good ride for anyone who works there."
For example, he displayed a card on one job classification that paid about $8.50 an hour at most companies, but more than $24 an hour at Boeing. He told how the union worked to extend unemployment benefits. They have great benefits — only recently have they had to shell out a co-pay for medical services, he said.
"Without it, we’d have coal miners’ wages," Hodgson said of the union.
However, he did say he thinks Boeing should treat its employees better.
"They should be more considerate. These are the same people who made Boeing produce record sales," he said.