Just pay the people

January 25, 2008
By: Dan Davis

Nuthin" like a shot upside the head to make you see the light.

In this blog and in the Editor"s Corner of The FABRICATOR [Saving manufacturing one sweep at a time, p. 8, January 2008], I"ve written how a clean work environment might contribute in a small way to changing a youngster"s mindset about manufacturing. It doesn"t have to be dark and dirty, and maybe that might be enough to encourage someone to consider a career in the fabricating trades.

Well, some fabricators thought it didn"t make sense to trivialize the future of fabricating in the U.S. by talking
about cleaning up the steel trades. I got a phone call, and more than a few e-mails and letters. My favorite remark was this one from a letter written by Jud Hirschfeld, Pagedale, Mo.:

Do you really believe that young people are so brain dead that they would consider working in our trade simply because you put up some new lights and painted the floor white? You are an educated man, Mr. Davis, so I will extend
you the courtesy of being blunt. You are out of your mind.

My wife could have told him that. But he"s correct when you digest the rest of his points. Simply put, he believes that those in the trades should be paid better, offered better benefits, and be rewarded for experience on the job.

His letter especially rang true after reading this story about Hamill
Manufacturing in Trafford, Pa.
. The company president said he would hire 10 machinists right now for his metalworking shop if he could, but later in the story we learn that the starting wage for a general machinist are $9
per hour. That"s $18,000 the first year, but after Uncle Sam takes his share, it"s only about $14,000. Wages do rise
to $14.50 an hour after training and up to $25 to $29 for senior machinists, but the initial wage offering isn"t exactly overwhelming.

The commentary on paying metal fabricating talent what they are truly worth especially rings true in light of the rising cost of living. Gas costs more, and commutes aren"t getting shorter. Food prices are going up. Health care premiums are skyrocketing, and many people are surviving on cost-of-living raises, if they get them at all.

Working in the steel trades is a hard job. There"s no getting around that. Let"s hope that metal fabricating workers find job situations that meet their needs for themselves and their families.

Dan Davis

Dan Davis

FMA Communications Inc.
2135 Point Blvd
Elgin, IL 60123
Phone: 815-227-8281