Shelton, WA (4-20-15) — Olympic Panel Products has sent a letter to all of its employees about several incidents of attempted or actual sabotage of its facilities in downtown Shelton after its reported sale to Swanson (OPP to be Cannibalized), a plywood manufacturer in Springfield, OR whose facilities were lost to fire last year. Copies of the letter threatening closure if the sabotage can’t/won’t be stopped were forwarded to Bill Corbin, chairman of the board of New Wood Resources LLC, and its CEO, Kurt Liebich.
The letter to employees and stake holders relates several instances of malevolence including 2 separate occasions of steel bolts being pressed into the plywood panels. A 3rd bolt was discovered before it could be pressed into a panel. The company pointedly described how such a hazard could destroy expensive routing or saw blade tools as well as the injuries/death to workers that could be suffered from the flying shrapnel. OPP didn’t mention the obvious reduction of confidence in its products that already could give potential customers pause.
A flooding of the pit beneath one of the presses damaged equipment and caused loss of production. A mounting bracket was pressed between two platens (the large precision steel surfaces required to produce smooth level sheets of plywood) incurring a $25,000 loss to OPP for repairs. Another Press platen was found bent at the beginning of the day shift after it had not been used during the previous graveyard shift.
Someone removed propane tanks from a forklift on site, deliberately spilling the contents inside the repair shop. The danger to the health and safety of workers as well as the existence of the plant was self evident. OPP management was made aware of two large propane tanks having their valves opened to bleed the explosive fuel into the maintenance shop, as were the local police, the ATF, the fire department and likely the FBI on at least two occasions during the week of 4-6-15.
OPP stated it sought to ‘mitigate’ the anticipated “riffs” by continuing its operation for the next 12-18 months, but that game plan is now very much in doubt. The question of what insurance underwriter would want to be left holding the bag in the face of such a pronounced ‘moral hazard’ begs to be answered. OPP may want to continue operating until its lease has expired, but is it willing to continue to sit at the poker table risking all of its chips to a malevolent nameless nemisis when it could cash them in immediately.
OPP has already terminated 25 workers. Any employees found to be using cell phones or a camera inside the plant are told they’ll be terminated immediately. Its threat to summarily close down the facilities cannot be taken lightly and the letter may simply have served as a pretext for doing so. The company’s suggested remedial action it intends to take include the following:
Regular shift meetings with employees will be held to discuss safety concerns and to review ‘incidents’.
The police have been notified and OPP is cooperating with authorities in their investigation of the sabotage.
Video surveillance cameras will be installed.
Increased onsite ‘security’ patrols will be dispatched.
Propane tanks will be removed from the inside of buildings and the shop.
An anonymous ‘hot-line’ will be set up for employees to report any illegal/suspicious activities. OPP is requesting employees use the hot-line to do so, and promises any discovered to have avoided reporting the same will be terminated and prosecuted, if possible.
OPP openly announced in its letter to ‘constituents’ that should the above measures fail, if the plant can’t “be operated safely”, it will cease operations altogether. Employees will be pounding the bricks sooner than later. Meetings with local uniformed police and the president of OPP have already been held. The company states it hopes these steps will lead to the arrest of the saboteurs or in some way STOP the sabotage.
The letter, signed by OPP president John Pierce (360-432-5003) invites workers to call or visit his office with an open door policy to discuss/report concerns. (Apparently, the door won’t be ‘opened’ until Wednesday as the receptionist claimed he wasn’t in his office Monday afternoon and wouldn’t be until then.)
A call to the local Woodworkers Union (360-426-5541) found nobody there to answer questions regarding their members’ safety or job prospects.
The ultimate question is now: Will OPP remain sitting at the poker table worrying about a joker in the deck, or will it takes its winnings and quit while it’s ahead? Who is OPP’s underwriter? Have they been notified of the spate of incidents for which the insurer might have to write a check? Workers there are advised not to look back–something might be gaining on them.
And then there’s the little matter of a mountain of wood ash on location leaching its dioxin into Shelton’s harbor and Oakland Bay…the most dioxin saturated waters/sediment in the Puget Sound…but nobody’s talking about that and OPP hopes the EPA won’t notice. It certainly would create a problem for any future tenant thinking of leasing the site after OPP clears out.