E.R. Bills calls himself a “blue-collar guy”, a part-timefreelance writer and a full-time construction labourer, with past experienceworking at the Lockheed Martin plant in
Thanks to an incendiary opinion column yesterday in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram,calling out slack working habits at the Lockheed factory, Bills may also addwhistleblower and community lightning rod to his list.
It’s not every day you see a newspaper and a writer taking oneof the town’s largest employers to task in such critical terms. For example, Billswrites in the column headlined “Slacking on the taxpayer’s dime“:
If you walk into Lockheed Martin’s
plant at any time on any givenworkday, you’ll find an inordinate number of employees doing anything exceptwork. You’ll see people asleep in fuselages; taking repeated, extended coffeebreaks; discussing the sports page; playing dominoes; and watching the clock.Anything to pass the time and make the day. Fort Worth
It’s the ultimate gravy train, and you and I foot the bill.
Things have been that way out there for years, even backwhen the place was called General Dynamics. For the last few decades, only anembarrassing cross-section of the folks who work out there actually perform anhonest day’s labor and, in Lockheed Martin’s case, this probably speaks to whyits infamous Marine One helicopter and F-35 joint strike fighter are behindschedule and over budget.
I called Bills yesterday to find out how the community hasreacted to such criticisms.
Bills says he’s not “terribly bashful about saying things”. Hesays the working habits at “places like Bell Helicopter and LockheedMartin” have been the same and well-known in the community for many years. The most annoying part about it, for him, is that theworkers are “mostly conservative Republicans … and it’s just very hypocriticalto me”.
“I am getting a lot of bad feedback. I didn’t know the unionis coming up for contract negotiations in two weeks. The editor has said watchyour back because they are p—–,” Bills said.
Bills freely admits it’s been several years since he’swalked inside the
“When I was out there it was a joke. You have to take twobreaks. It’s hard to get anything done. My experience was I saw working up highin the plant and looking out in the plant … people are asleep in fuselages. And,you know what, they don’t even deny it. I’ve gotten notes today from employees,and they just asked, ‘Did you ask him if it was his break time’? They know. Andsame thing with the dominos. They’ll just tell you, ‘Sometimes we have to waiton material.’ Sometimes there is that. And there are hard working people outthere. But there’s a lot of goofing off.
“It’s a legitimate gripe as a taxpayer.”