Originally Posted by NW-Bound
I wonder if the workers' feeling was because the perception that exempt or professional people make so much more than they do, which may not be true. Or in the case that the latter do make a lot more, that the higher pay was undeserved?
It was actually the other way around but they may have perceived it differently. It took an engineer about 5 years to be making as much as the average operator with the built in overtime. Unless moved into a management or marketing position, an engineer would never make more than about 15% over what the average operator made.
As the manager over about 120 of them I made about 50% over this average if you included my typical but not guaranteed annual bonus. I probably made less then an operator if you calculated out my hourly rate. My base pay (no bonus) was barely more than I would have been making if I had remained an engineer.
Operators and maintenace crafts made really good money for a job requiring only a high school degree. We did like to hire people that had gone through one of the local JC programs that taught the basic skill and terminology but we certainly hired many that hadn't. At 3 am during a freezing rain storm, they might be climbing the side of a distillation column. Me or an engineer might be in the control room but the operator was getting their hourly rate. For me, the term used was "it is all figured in."