I got a wild hair and decided to do a google search heat exchanger fitters. I was wondering what kind of job openings were out there, benefits and what the salary was.
One of the first results is a good example of why I left the welding field. The job opening was through a temporary agency, which was advertised as a temp to permanent position.
Why do companies use a temp agency? Most of the times its because the company has problems retaining employees. To cut down on the drug test and paper work, the company goes through a temp agency. The temp agency does the interviewing, drug test, screening, then sends the person to the welding shop.
No salary and no benefits were listed in the job opening.
Why should people stay in a field where the companies have problems retaining employees, and employees are not offered benefits?
If this was a good job, people would be lining up at the door.
Fab shops offer terrible benefits, lousy pay, and then they complain when they can not find skilled workers.
Why are kids going to college and leaving the manual labor jobs behind? Because kids can make 2 and 3 times working in computer then they can make welding.
Back in the late 1980s and into the 1990s weldshop foremans were worried about the number of young people going into welding. Instead of offering improved benefits, just hire employees through a temp agency.
Why did I leave the welding field? Because the pay, benefits and working conditions suck.
What happens when an entire industry exploits its workers? Leave and find another job? Then have to wait months for their health insurance to kick in, lose whatever vacation time they have,,, and for what, to be exploited again? What are the welders, fitters and helpers supposed to do about it? When an entire industry exploits its workers, there is not much that can be done.
I feel that most of the welding (fabrication) shops in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana exploit their employees. Not all of the welding shops exploit their employes, but a lot of them do.
From 1986 – 1999 I worked in various fabrication shops in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana. In 2003 I went back into the welding field, in January 2004 I left the welding field again, and hopefully will never go back.
During this article I am going to re-frame from listing company names. I fear that if I list a company name, I might get sued because the company is butt hurt that a former employee is speaking out. A lot of the welding companies tell their employees, “if you do not like it, leave.” In the 1980s and 1990s I did not have a way to speak out, but now I do. I feel that I have been out of the field long enough that I can finally speak out.
Why did I wait so long before posting this article? Maybe because I have taken a long time to come to grips with my life in the fabrication shops.
This article is based on my personal experiences in welding shops from 1986 – 1999, and in 2003 – 2004.