Blue Collar Holiday Bonuses


Ronald Curell

Ron Curell

Today is a guest post written by Ronald J. Curell. Ron is retired, and is a carpenter, father, hardware worker, and grandfather. 

Everyone wants to make more money, that way they can live the dream. The dream of “the more you make the more you spend.” This is ever so true to the blue collar wage slave….

Two carpenters –we will call them Pete and Sam, were working on a hospital project a few years back. They were making a union wage of $12/hr.

Now as it happened, several non-union carpenters were also working on the same job.  They had a different part of the contract and were working for a different company.

The time of year was just a few days before Christmas and Pete made a remark about how they would most likely get a ham or turkey from the boss for the holidays. The non-union boys were working nearby and they were talking about the several hundred dollars they were about to receive from their boss as bonuses.  Between them, there would be almost $3000.

One non-union carpenter talked about how he would buy a new table saw, because the one they were using was almost wore out.  Another said he would buy a planer/jointer to help with the window and door trim.  The other two also planned to purchase some large tool for the job with the extra money.

Pete heard them talking and told Sam about it, “Did you hear that? Almost a grand each and all we are getting is a miserable bird.” He obsessed most of the afternoon about the specifics of the overheard exchange. It did not help when Sam poked him with, “quit and go to work for them.”

“I just might do that,” Pete said.

Sam came back with, “I think you should.”

Sputtering Pete said, “Maybe I will.”

And as Pete worked along the madder and madder he got. Just about quitting time that afternoon, Pete was at the breaking point.

The Holidays

Oh the holidays…

“I’m going to talk to them,” Pete said.

Sam again jumped in, “Oh they are hiring, I asked them and they have lots of work.”

“That settles it,” Pete said. “I’m quitting.”

Sam snickering said, “You want to borrow my phone to call the office.”

“Let me have the thing,” Pete said.

Handing the phone to him Sam added, “Just remember tomorrow you will be making $7/hr.”

Pete gritting his teeth and added, “Yeah but the holiday pay.”

Sam once again went on, “Yeah that would be nice, but think about this –if you make $7/hr, you will make $14,000/year. Add the $1,000 bonus and that is a whapping $15,000, and they want to use the monies to buy tools for the job, what tools have you bought lately?”

Pete kind of got a puppy dog look on his face while Sam added, “we make $12/hr, which adds up to $24,000/year. So what’s it going to be, ham or turkey?”


Blue Collar Holiday Bonuses — 21 Comments

  1. When you take out a credit, it states clearly how much you have to repay, with all the fees. I wish it was as simple with salaries. Your example is pretty obvious, but if you factor in retirement matching contribution, health plan, company car and other perks, it is hard to compare.
    Pauline recently posted..Little house in Guatemala, week 3My Profile

  2. I’ve learned it’s best to look at total compensation in any job. This means you have to take into account pay, bonuses, benefits, contributions to your benefits, matching retirement, and even time off. All these things together add up to a totally different number than your pay. Also, for salary earners, you have to look at total work. A job paying 20% more might seem like a no brainer, but if you’re expected to work 30% more hours, there’s definitely a trade-off.
    Money Beagle recently posted..Great Products Plus Great Customer Service Equals A Resounding SuccessMy Profile

      • My blue collar jobs have been pretty cut and dried, work an hour get paid an hour, not work not get paid……I have worked in the carpenter business for over 35 years…25 union and 10 not….union companies tend to give turkeys or hams non union cash….that said the last union contractor I worked for gave good cash bonuses…. I could compare my work apples to apples, both had hourly work for hourly pay, no paid holidays for either, a holiday was a non paid day in the middle of the week….non union no health care no retirement…union they took both out of our checks-so we paid them …that is why I can be retired today…

  3. You explain it so eloquently. Every time my wife moans about not making enough and wants to find a job for a few more bucks an hour. I explain that the job she is looking at has no benefits. If she were to add in the health insurance that we get at a 90% discount and 4% company match plus paid vacation she’d end up making less.
    That round dollar amount figure sure seems tempting until you figure out what you’re losing.
    Justin@thefrugalpath recently posted..Windfall: What Would You do With a Million Dollars?My Profile

    • I agree! It’s hard to get the money signs out of our eyes sometimes, but if we can and can think about things clearly, sometimes the big bonus isn’t worth it!

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