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.
Ronni Sheflo started work at the Scott Paper Co. in 1973, just as women were starting to get jobs on the factory floor.
One job women didn’t do at that time was yard crew — the jobs in which workers took care of the grounds. When the then 18-year-old Sheflo saw her boyfriend on the crew, she decided that was the job she wanted.
He told her, “Women don’t work over there.” She told him, “Just wait.”
When the announced closure of the mill came in December, Sheflo was the head of the yard crew. She’s worked a lot of jobs in between at Scott, which later became Kimberly-Clark.
She started with the jobs women were more typically allowed to work: as a hand packer and roll inspector.
By sheer persistence, she managed to try working as a mechanics helper, in the dry room at the pulp mill, in the pulp digester area, in the storeroom and in chip handling.
One job had her replacing filters all over the mill. That eventually led to a job on the yard crew, the job she had wanted from the beginning.
She always enjoyed maintenance because of the variety. She enjoyed the challenge of coming up with a solution to a unique problem.
Sheflo is one of those people who loves to work. She hadn’t planned on retiring for at least another decade.
“I know it’s going to end,” she said. “I’m preparing myself.”
Just what she’ll do isn’t yet clear. She’s one of only two people selected to work after all the rest of the regular employees are severed in mid-April. She’ll work with contractors taking out computers and phones.
She’s moved past the anger and disappointment of the closure.
“I’ve think I’ve come to a happy place,” she said. “I’ve accepted it and I’m ready for something else.”