Sunday, May 13, 2018
This is Don. When he was in high school he decided to become a construction worker. Everyone told him he wouldn’t make much money, but he was passionate about building something from nothing, so he decided it was worth it for him. Building was his passion. He began working for a company called Northern Construction (NC) and the fit was perfect. NC gave him a contract which told him all of the perks of working for them. They would provide the supplies he needed to build houses: bulldozers, lumber, anything he needed. He might have to buy some drills and small tools, but not too much. He would only have to work on 3 projects at a time. After 4 years, if he worked hard he would be given an extended contract, and after 10 years longevity pay. If he took a special class he’d get a raise, and if he got certified another raise. They gave him a pay-scale telling him exactly how much he would be making until he retired. They also offered retirement benefits. He wouldn’t work all year, and when he wasn’t working he wouldn’t get paid, but they could stretch his checks over 12 months to help him budget each month. He wouldn’t be making much, but he would be making enough with all of these stipulations to raise a family and make a living.
After 4 years passed, NC informed Don that they got rid of extended contracts. He would not be receiving one. Also, they could no longer give him longevity pay, buy his supplies, or give him retirement benefits, and he would also now be building 10 houses at a time. (He would need to buy the supplies for that.) He had also just finished the classes and certification (which he paid for out of pocket), and NC told him unfortunately they got rid of additional pay for those too. His company had started giving money to another small, private crew who was given all of the benefits Don just lost, and who also had all of the supplies they needed. NC would be comparing Don’s work to theirs, and adjusting his pay accordingly.
Don was heart broken. Not only did he not have the supplies to build safe and sound houses, he had spent so much money on his education (which NC said they’d compensate him for), but he also didn’t have job security, raises that he was promised, or respect from his superiors. He was worked to the bone, but he continued to buy the supplies necessary to compete with the private company because he was being held accountable for the safety of these precious houses. Building was his passion.
People at NC started talking, and although it was a fireable offense to miss work to ask for what you were promised, the employees of NC decided it was worth the risk to make sure they had what they needed to build safe and sound houses.
Some people said the employees were selfish because they knew going in that they wouldn’t make much in construction, but it’s their passion, and they know that building quality, safe houses requires many things, and they only want what they were promised. Some employees were too nervous to take off from work, but enough workers did that there is a whole movement in NC to stand up for the houses. To stand up and say, “We aren’t the bad guys. We want to build houses that are ready for college. Houses that have everything they need to be successful. Who aren’t learning from old text books, from teachers who aren’t going into debt buying the supplies they need. Who have the pay-scale, benefits, and pay they were promised.” Oh sorry. I went off point there.
Anyway, Don isn’t a bad guy. He isn’t greedy. He knows that taking a day off (unpaid by the way) will inconvenience the many people waiting on quality houses to be built. But he also knows that the people want houses that are built using everything possible to make them safe and sound.
I hope this made sense. Also, Don’s a teacher in NC. I didn’t even mention testing, class size, TAs, and so much more that was too hard to fit into a construction metaphor. 🤷🏻♀️ Let’s give him the respect he deserves. He’s in this for the students. It’s his passion. It’s his life. It’s personal.