What’s it really like in the USA?
Reading many of the threads as a foreigner I can easily get the impression that the USA machine shops are filled with underpaid, dissatisfied machinists and shop owners that are either greedy or regard their employees as merchandise.
Of course this isn’t the case and I’m just as sure that the majority are content and valued and the employers fair.
I once suggested that good companies be praised but that was turned down as it could be used to give companies free PR. Without naming company names how about the silent (majority? ) coming out and telling us the good (and bad) things they’ve heard. It certainly doesn’t have to be your own place of work, or your own shop, but during conversations with friends and acquaintances things must surely come forward making you think, “That sounds good” or “Can it really be as bad as that?”
What could also be interesting is if other nationalities joined in as I must admit from what I read there is no difference between the USA and Canada. It does sound very different from Europe, not that we don’t have exceptional companies as well as a few bad apples.
Is there a big difference between how small, medium sized and large shop or companies carry on daily routine re employees or pay?
A place I used to work didnt have a particularly high hourly rate. A guy with a couple years CNC machining experience working as an operator might make $14/hr. That said the environment was good, monthly safety meetings, organized workflow, company events every now and then, etc. Also a substantial amount of benefits were available including health insurance, legal insurance, discounts on memberships to places, retirement, etc.
Our shop has three other guys out on the floor. They make a little over $14.00 hr. $10/ wk is what health insurance costs the guys, and we offer retirement. I guess you might be able to guage happiness if the they are whistling a tune. Which everyone does. Aside from the pay being a little stagnent, we are pretty happy.
This is intended as comments to posts 2 & 3
This lets me think that a high wage isn't the main reason for people being happy or unhappy. Of course a person has to make enough to have a good life but what if the wage was higher and the benefits non existant? A shop offering benefits will be able to get good deals cheaper than if done by the individual employees. In the USA it must be tempting for some after a period of no illness or problems to decide to save insurance or whatever for a few months. That's a nasty time for something unexpected to crop up.
These post are also what I think is the real America. It's probably universal that complaining is easier than praising Good things and memories tend to get taken for granted.
Here in my neck of the woods, (Northern Canada), our company's primary function is the maintenance and repair of pumps for the Mining Industry.
Typical wages are about $18.00\hr for the 'Shop Rat', entry level machinests\mill wrights $22 to $25\hr, and the really, really good guys $27 to $40\hr. plus there is profit sharing.
As to benifets, we have Workers Compensation for injuries, free health care, unemployment insurance and the labor board.....soooo all good here.
Now that I'm an ex-pat nobody tells me these things. But I'm guessing that if you own your means of production all is groovy. Ownership society and all that.
I left the states when it became clear that shop ownership was a multigenerational proposition, and insurance companies suck!
I can't imagine how a talented machine operator would ever get a start. Back in my Dad's day, the big Co's would look the other way when tooling went absent from the crib, with the understanding that a job shop was under development.
I'm pretty sure that is history.
I'm sure at some point I'll be able to pitch in with remarks and observations but so far, from the still few posts (early days yet ) then things are much closer to being what I thought they'd be like rather than the more negative vibes in most "how are things going?" type threads.
I do have one question. The $15 an hour mentioned. Is that before or after tax? Here (Denmark) all "blue collar" workers are paid every fortnight and "white collar" monthly. Wages here are as good as never in cash but are bank transfers to each individual's bank account. This helps our IRS keep tabs on earnings Tax is deducted before wages are tranferred to the bank account. For a machinist here $15 + an hour would be about what is paid out after taxes have been deducted. Taxes go to paying for our "free" stuff. Education, doctors, hospitals etc. etc. Things like day care and kintergarten are state subsidised so the actual cost to parents is only about half of the real price.
In the US $/hr quote are almost always before taxes and before social security and medicare.
What the hell are you talking about! Where are you getting your statistics from?
Back to the OP yes there is a difference in pay and routine in the vast majority of cases. Seems to be a natural effect in a competitive free market economy though. The biggest differences are between the small and large. Medium can pay more large can pay most when competing for top veterans and talent. Small shop can get away with less routines. While, medium to large shops don't happen without establishing routines. Lets see at bottom we have the garage were you can pretty much drink and cut everyday, and at the top of the chain you may be required to file a report for wiping you ass.
As far as grit, well thats because the majority of the people running the industry here are a bunch of frick'n cowboys or grew up on cowboy movies. Or maybe it's because manufacturing is like a lotus flower that grows in the mud yet blossoms a beautiful flower, or never frick'n blossoms at all.
Here in Arizona the average wage in pima county where I live is 10 dollars an hour no benefits no holidays part time. If you are really good you might get 15 an hour but that would be working for a large company.
I left a place a few weeks ago that absolutely treated thier empolyees and customers like dirt. I quit and went to a place that was started by a man behind his house.
He left home at 16 with allmost nothing, got a mill and made parts untill he couldnt stand up anymore then laid down on his cot by the mill and slept for a few hours, woke up and did it again. He is in his 80's now and is worth around 120 million. His now has two large shops in two different cities that employ well over 200 and still makes the time every Thursday to bring everyones check and shake their hand.
I have to say I'm extremely happy to be working for a man like that and I plan to make him as rich as I can.
I was maxxed out.
I have worked as a cnc machinist for 13 years for various companies and was making top pay for the midwest $25/Hr. I was tired of "caring too much" and doing the boss's job. I looked around me and seen older machinist making less than I was. I was tired of getting upset at things I had no control over, So I started my own shop. After everything is paid for I make about the same, but I get to call the shots now!
I'm gonna bet you get paid less per hour 'after everything is paid' because you spend way more hours making the same money now than when you were an employee....
Originally Posted by proturn
Gordon, set aside some time, set up your streaming video, and watch a few of our "reality shows"
That's what life is REALLY like here.
I especially recommend "hardcore Pawn" and any of the car REPO shows.
For a somewhat? more realistic look, check out Craigslist in various cities and click on skilled trades or mfg. jobs.
I'm thinking there is going to be a wide range of good and bad, with some wanting great and diverse skills for $12/hr.
I worked as a TIG welder a few years back in a stamping plant. Had (still have) my own business but things were slow and they let me come and go as I pleased. That was for $17/hr.
Guys in tool and die maxed out at $25/hr I think, with benefits (don't know the details there.)
Everyone seemed fairly content, the range for tool and die there was maybe $16-25, welders were $12-17.
IMO, benefits are a huge deal. Without benefits you'll be paying $10k to $15k per year for any decent private health insurance, so when you hear low hourly wages and no benefits, that's barely a living unless you sleep under a bridge and walk to work. This last month the country added something like 18,000 jobs, which is essentially zero growth. Whether pessimistic or optimistic, people are nervous if not downright scared.
Nebraska, doing manufacturing usually $8 to $15 with crappy benefits if you had a two year degree and five years of experience you might get the $15. It was not enough to support a family. Ended up with several side jobs to cover everything.
Arizona In Tucson, I was offered less then $12, but all the over-time I could handle........Mining pays so much better if you can tolerate the BS and the benefits are very good. Doing "I needed it yesterday" and schooling engineers on why the 70 year old equipment only works a certain way and the wheel doesn't need to be redesigned ......from $18 to $38 if you can get passed all the BS they throw in your way. The equipment has payed for itself and they are finally getting to the 21st century...upgrades new equipment...
A large factor which seems to be overlooked in this discussion, is the cost of living in a specific locale. That can vary quite a bit, and affects the disposable income.
And adding to that........to base a decision on what this particular community in Practical Machinist consider the "way" things are in manufacturing in the USA is like taking a drop from the ocean, testing it for purity and basing your decision solely on those results.
Originally Posted by rj newbould
We in this forum are such a miniscule group when compared to the overall American manufacturing industry, from owners right on down to the guy emptying the trash at night, that it boggles my mind that anyone could draw any kind of definitive conclusion solely from responses received in this thread.
I have been in business successfully for over 15 years now. I was born and raised in the USA and have lived in the same region my entire life, and I can guarantee you that I have not the slightest clue as to what "American" manufacturing truly is all about.
All I can really do is speculate and offer my own experiences as to what I consider it to be from my little sheltered existence here in rural Massachusetts, which I'm quite certain would be archaic when compared to modern US facilities.
Perhaps if this group of frequent contributors in this forum had a few ceo's from major manufacturers in the US that could lend some insider viewpoints it would make for a somewhat more truly realistic discussion, but from what I gather (and based soley on my own opinion mind you) it appears the vast majority of contributors to this forum though a majority in here, are merely the tiniest tip of the iceberg when it comes to the driving force and make up of the American manufacturing industry.
"free health care"
No sir, you DO NOT have free health care, you are paying for it big time.