Teresa Phoenix-Williams works at Lucent Technologies in Allentown, Pennsylvania, encoding and inspecting computer chips. She worked as a computer chip bonder at this same plant 15 years ago when AT&T owned it, but she was laid off, along with several hundred others, in 1984.
When Teresa received an offer in January 1999 to come back to the plant, which Lucent now owned, she accepted, even though the job wasn't exactly the kind of job she was looking for.
Teresa sees her job on the night shift as a stepping stone to other positions within the company. Her present goal is to land a job in a management position or in the human resources department.
An on-site training and learning center allows Teresa to pursue her educational goal of getting her MBA, even while working nights and caring for her four children. The Enhanced Training Opportunities Program (ETOP), sponsored by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Lucent, provides classes and is staffed throughout the day and night to accommodate all the workers' schedules.
Here's what Teresa told Livelyhood about how her company helps her get ahead on the night shift:
Teresa: In the past I've worked in management. I was a supervisor, and doing that type of work, you touch all areas, like marketing, public relations, legal, and working directly with the customer. You touch all types of areas versus right now. I miss that. I miss that interaction and I hope to get it back again.
My goal basically is to be able to take advantage of the growth within the company. Within this valley alone we're going to be adding on another facility.
How does the on-site educational center operate?
Teresa: As far as travel time, I don't have to physically go out to the college; I just come here to the job. It's equipped with classrooms and all the latest equipment that the colleges would utilize. The classes offered here are available to all employees, regardless of the shift that you are on.
What is it about taking classes that you like?
Teresa: When I go to class, that's for me. It's not only just to improve or to enhance my position at Lucent, it's also personal. It gives me that balance that I need.
I like the fact that it is continuous learning. I like the environment. For me, it's not so much going to class to learn, it's also socialization and being able to mix with other people. Inside our class we have the president of one of our local unions, we have an electrician, we have trainers, so it's a nice mix of people that I would not be able to mix with on the third shift.
In addition to the ETOP center, Lucent provides other important services to night shift workers.
To find out more about workplace training programs in your industry or work setting, contact the Association of Joint Labor-Management Education Programs.
Serving over 800,000 union workers, labor and businesses team up to strengthen and promote labor management educational programs and to fortify the commitment of companies, unions, and workers to the philosophy and practice of lifelong learning.