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History of the Forest Products Laboratory

Interview #992: Lulling, Robert M. (June, 2009)

View all of First Interview Session (October 15, 2008), disc 1

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01:33:56 - 01:39:44 Forest Products Laboratory, Directors

Forest Products Laboratory, directors; Fleischer, Herbert O., performance awards, laboratory technicians; Soper, V.R., retirement, retirement---decision making, promotions

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01:33:56

RL

I went through all kinds of directors from the Lab, I can't even remember all their names, at least six or seven directors. Fleischer was perhaps the director that I was closest to. He worked down in what we call the veneer mill in the early days and we used to go down there to get veneer to help them out sometimes and shift around. He became the director back in the '70s.

In 1974 I was given a small cash award for performing duties beyond my grade that I was, my grade level. I was at the end of my grade, that would be the tenth step, and they had a rule here that you couldn't go beyond a GS-9, a technician couldn't. Well I was a GS-9 at the end of the grade so I made the same money as a GS-10 or in the professional. I always received a very satisfactory grade evaluation and sometimes I was---or several times I was---told that some of my peers received promotions because they were [older] and closer to retirement so they were favored and that kind of hurt my feelings too because I know two of the guys didn't always receive good grades.

AP

Did that change?

RL

I don't know. It was that way when I retired, that's one of the reasons I retired. Soper, Vern Soper also worked with adhesives and he and I retired at the same time. He was a little older than I was but he was our first-aid man and we provided first-aid to the Lab and to our visitors. He had several occasions where he was called upon to take care of a heart attack for somebody visiting the Lab, we had guys that cut their fingers in the sawing and things like that. If you didn't feel good you could always go and get an aspirin from Vern Soper. He and I were pretty close. But the Lab was not too quick to give promotions. I think in maybe one or two instances that I can recall where a person was promoted a year apart when most of us had to wait until we were up the end of our grade before we got promotions. But I started out in the low rung and I ended up to a point where I couldn't help myself any more. We went to the computer, Soper and I did, and plugged in some numbers and come out with the fact that if we continued to work beyond the grade 10, not grade 10 but the step 10, we would be working for approximately a dollar and a quarter an hour.

AP

Oh wow.

RL

We could go outside and earn more than that. There were some guys, Ed Mraz was one who was in the paint department, he stayed and he got---at that time the Lab had a personnel audit and as a result of that personnel audit, a lot of us received a higher grade because the Lab was giving us what we earned. And Ed Mraz got a ten I know. I didn't get a ten because I was planning on retiring and they knew it. So it's alright anyhow. But Ed only made a buck a quarter an hour. He volunteered his services when he reached the ten, he decided, then of course that was whatever his wage was it was one step above that, so he actually worked as a volunteer for about a year and then he decided to complete his time here. But I received this award and the thing that I remember, Herb Fleischer apologized to me in front of the people. He would say he was sorry he could not give me a larger cash award because the appropriations didn't permit it. Because you can see how close the Lab was to you know paying off their bills and trying to give bonuses to or awards to their workers. It was not a nice place from that standpoint.

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