Two of my photographs from On the Wing Line are in the exhibit Notions of Home at Photographic Center Northwest this fall.
The Boeing factory is home for a large part of my life, more than I’d like. Those I work with are my extended family. We work on the factory floor building wings at an incredibly fast rate of 47 airplanes a month. Perhaps because we’ve worked the swing shift for so long, it has intensified our sense of it being a home away from home. Instead of dinners with our kids or spouses, we spend them with each other.
We are together with each other more than our immediate families. We care for each other. We see each other through cancer treatment. We talk about difficulties in marriage together. There are births and funerals. We laugh and get irritated with each other, like any other family.
There’s a certain comfort I feel when I’m there that I don’t feel elsewhere. When I clock in, I feel the sense of coming home. I’m among people who care about me. It doesn’t mean I love my job. The pace is demanding and the pounding, drilling and blasting of horns is deafeningly loud. Like most blue collar jobs, our wages and working conditions are deteriorating, but it’s still possible to make a decent union wage. They are not what they used to be and we wonder if they ever will be again.
Many of us are very far from our birth homes. We come from all over the world and have been thrown together. This series is an exploration of my extended family who work on the Wing Line.