While all three schedules are widely used, the DuPont schedule is the newest model for shift work, having gained momentum in the last 15 years.
The Johnsonburg Mill converted from Southern Swing to DuPont 15 years ago. For colleagues there, the change has meant fewer, though longer, working days that add up to more time off than a Southern Swing schedule. With the DuPont schedule, a typical shift is 12 hours, which equates to a 42-hour workweek. However, DuPont gives employees seven consecutive days off each month, plus another seven days in off time throughout the four-week cycle.
“One advantage of the 12-hour-shift schedule is that it allows for more days off throughout the year,” says Johnsonburg Mill Manager Greg Linscott. “The tradeoff is that the work days are longer. But many employees enjoy the additional days off.”
“I like being off during the week,” says Don Franco, Johnsonburg Mill control room operations crew leader. He has worked the DuPont shift for the last 15 years. “It was especially nice when my kids were young. I could go to more events, and we’d take vacations during the week.”
Tammy Winker, a United Steelworkers safety advocate at the Nekoosa Mill, has been working Southern Swing since she joined the mill about 28 years ago. She says while it can be tiring and hard for your body to adjust between rotations, the combination of the extra time off and working nights helped her complete her emergency medical services training.
“It allows you to plan ahead,” says Dan Goodness, a Nekoosa Mill paper machine tender. “Because it’s a standard schedule, you know exactly when your time off is coming, and you can plan a year in advance.” The tradeoff, he notes, is that sometimes the schedule requires you to work on holidays or miss certain events that might happen during the evenings or on weekends.
Shift work presents a wide range of pros and cons. But as long as manufacturing operates 24 hours a day, there will be a need for around-the-clock work shifts. Through cooperation between employees and leadership, as well as adjustments as needed over time, shift work schedules can benefit both our company and our workforce.