Why I Left The Welding Field

My name is Kevin Felts and I have 15 years experience in the welding field.  In June 1986 I took a job in a welding shop.

From 1986 – 1999 I worked in various welding shops between southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana.

Around August 1999 I was laid off from a welding shop.  When I was laid off from that welding shop, I decided to go into the computer field.

Between 2003 – 2004 I went back into the welding field for 12 months.

This past weekend my wife and I were passing through the Beaumont Texas area.  While we were around Beaumont, I showed her some of the welding shops I used to work at.

Seeing those welding shops brought back bad memories.  I realized that all of the shops we looked at had common traits.  Some of those common traits were poorly trained supervisors and poor quality pay.

Company A

One welding shop I worked at in in the Beaumont Texas area, my supervisor (lets call him dumbass) and I had worked together at another welding shop a few years earlier.  At this other shop, my wifes grandfather was the foreman.  When work got low, the workforce had to be reduced, so a few people were laid off. Dumbass happened to be one of the people laid off.  This was in 1987.

In 1993 I went to work for a company, and dumbass just happened to be my new supervisor.  Once dumbass remembered who I was, he let it be known that it was payback time.  He was going to find “some” reason to fire me.

Layoffs happen, that is just the way things work.  Dumbass was taking this as a personal issue, which did not make for a very pleasant work atmosphere.

Instead of dealing with dumbass, his rude remarks and his nitpicking, I decided to leave.  There is no need in working in hostile work environment.

Company B

The supervisor at this place was worse then dumbass, this guy was a complete a-hole.  His idea of being a supervisor was yelling at the employees, degrading them, verbal insults, verbal attacks,,, then threaten to fire the employee if they objected to his behavior.

Company B had to be to most hostile work environment I have ever been in.  I have been working since 1984, which was when I went to work for Market Basket in Bridge City Texas.  In my 28 years in the workforce, company B had one of the worst supervisors I have ever seen.  The supervisor had some serious anger and control issues.  Every day at the company was a living hell.

One incident stands out in my memory, it was probably one of the lowest points of my working career.  I had a question about a job, so I took the blueprint to the supervisor from hell, asked him about something on the print.  What does he do?  He grabs the print from my hand and starts to walk away.  I lost it.  I got in the guys face and started screaming at him.  From there the situation from from bad to worse, as the supervisor and I almost got into a fist fight.

But what do you expect?  The a-hole pushed, and pushed, and pushed, verbally, emotionally,,, until every employees was walking on pins and needles.  I had enough, there is no excuse for people having to work in such a hostile environment.

After a couple of weeks of hell, I got my tools and left.

Company C

Something the supervisor at Company C told me has stuck in my head for over 2 decades, “if you pay an employee well, they will not be hungry and will not want to work overtime.”

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In other words, if you keep an employee at poverty level, that employee will be willing to work all the overtime they are offered so they can get a little extra money.

This opinion seemed to run true of just about every welding shop I ever worked at (not all welding shops, just a bunch of them).  Pay the employee barely enough to pay their bills.  That way the employee will beg for overtime.  That is nothing more then voluntary servitude.

Stockholm Syndrome

Over the years I have came to realize that a lot of people who work in the welding field suffer from Stockholm Syndrome.

Wikipedia defines Stockholm Syndrome as:

Stockholm syndrome, or capture-bonding, is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness

People who work in the welding shops will make excuses for the low pay, poor benefits, mandatory overtime, excessive overtime, lack of flexible work hours,,,, things that someone would expect in the 21st century.

I used to make excuses for the low pay in the fab shops around southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana. New employees would complain about the low pay. I would tell them that is because we have benefits, such as health insurance and paid holidays.

Over the years I came to accept that my excuses were just that, excuses. There is no excuse for an industry to abuse and exploit the workers. And that is why I left the welding field.