A little about my work history; in 1986 I went to work for S&T Fabrication (they were in Woodville Texas at the time), in 1987 I went to work for Ohmstede at their Sulphur Louisiana shop. I worked at Ohmstede from 1987 to 1991.
Between 1991 – 1996 I bounced around between the various welding shops in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana.
In 1996 I landed a job at Allied Fabrication in Rose City Texas. Allied was one of the better companies I worked for.
The other companies that will remain nameless can kiss my ass. The sorry ass companies that exploit their employees, pay terrible and provide no benefits will not be mentioned by name.
Its not that I regret working in the welding field, I regret allowing myself to be exploited. Why should someone have to work 60, 70, 80 hours a week to be able to live?
While I was working at Ohmstede my supervisor (Bill Scott) told me that it was either feast or famine. Either you worked the overtime and had a good paycheck, or you worked 40 hours a week and starved.
In other words, sacrifice time with your family on the alter of money.
That is a heck of a choice, work overtime to make sure your family can pay the bills, or not work the overtime and barely get by.
If I could go back to 1986, I doubt I would every go into the welding field. The pay sucks and the the benefits suck. Why should I sacrifice my hearing and my lungs so a company can throw its employees some scraps?
One company I worked at in southwest Louisiana did not provide any kind of benefits, nor did the employees get a cost of living raise. After the 90 day probation period the employee received a 25 cent an hour raise. After that first 25 cent raise, no other pay raises were given. Why should employees have to suffer that kind of poverty level wages? We are not talking about stocking shelves at a grocery store. We are talking about skilled fitters and welders.
And welding companies wonder why they have problems finding skilled workers? Look no further then the pay and the benefits.
Why should young people go to work at a welding shop and make barely above poverty wages, when they can go into computers and make 3 times the money?
I have yet to see an ASME certified pressure vessel or heat exchanger shop that pays like working with computers does.
Why should I make $57k a year, when I can apply myself and make $99k a year?
But yet ASME certified welding shops in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana complain they can not find skilled workers?
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