"Praise and Criticism for National Tradesmen Day," by Alpha Unit

Originally published September 20, 2012.
September 21 is National Tradesmen Day, a holiday most people have probably never heard of. It’s kind of new. It started last year and is set to be celebrated the third Friday in September every year. It’s not a government holiday. It was created by Irwin Tools, a subsidiary of Newell Rubbermaid.
National Tradesmen Day is set aside to honor the skilled tradesmen in the country who do all the manual labor that many of us can’t do for ourselves. People like auto mechanics, plumbers, roofers, carpenters, drywall installers, electricians, HVAC technicians, and welders. There’s a shortage of such skilled workers, and “skilled trades” is the number one category of the hardest jobs to fill in the country. Some blame the decline of vocational and technical education on the steady focus we’ve had on 4-year university education.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that over a third of skilled tradesmen are over 50. For every three tradesmen who retire, there’s only one person with the skills to do their kind of work. So a day set aside to recognize their talents and hard work sounds like something a lot of us could get behind.
But not all of us. Here’s a sample of comments left on a forum in which people weighed in on the first National Tradesmen Day:

“Too bad they sold out American workers.”
“I wonder how ‘Tradesmen Day’ is said in Mandarin.”
“Oh man I feel for all the laid off workers who are out of a job and have to watch their old company do this shit pathetic.”
“How about a ‘sellout day’ for companies like Irwin?”

In 2008 Irwin closed its plant in DeWitt, Nebraska. Vise-Grip locking pliers and other tools had been made there for 80 years. Employees were told that the parent company had to move production to China “to keep the Vise-Grip name competitive.” About 300 people lost their jobs at the plant that “anchored” DeWitt. One employee who had worked there for nearly 20 years told the media, “It’s a kick in the head.”
Irwin Tools has been successful, though, at marketing National Tradesmen Day, with media outlets and small businesses all on board. Irwin wants more students to consider careers in the skilled trades and is urging each of us to go out of our way to thank the skilled tradesmen we know and hire.
But in addition to the cynics, there are the doubters. One commenter on a forum posed the question: “Isn’t that what Labor Day is for?”

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23 thoughts on “"Praise and Criticism for National Tradesmen Day," by Alpha Unit”

  1. dems and repubs alike share the blame for sending jobs overseas. now idiot romney’s talking about dealing with the ”cheaters” in china blah, blah, blah. what a crock of shit from that hypocrite. everything you see around you is there because of the tradesmen. the shit is going to hit the fan i believe it’s too late to fix the job/economic problems.

  2. “There’s a shortage of such skilled workers, in fact, and “skilled trades” is the number one category of the hardest jobs to fill in the country. Some blame the decline of vocational and technical education on the steady focus we’ve had on 4-year university education.”
    The education system and media drill it into young people’s heads that they’ve gotta go to college. And working a trade or at a factory is somehow shameful. In fact, some trades actually pay quite well.
    I think outsourcing can be dealt with by imposing tariffs on imported goods.

  3. We all share in the blame by letting ourselves concentrate all the decision making in Washington instead of locally. This is not a politcial party issue. It’s our laziness in letting a few people run everything. We have no one to blame but ourselves.

    1. This is the symptom of what’s really wrong with the U..S.:
      Getting rid of all the good paying, blue-collar union jobs, replacing citizens with imported low wage/slave labor in the form of illegals, all while exporting all the manufacturing jobs overseas (to utilize Third World slave labor), while simultaneously telling all U.S. kids they need to go get college degrees to high-tech jobs, and at the same time importing lower-wage high tech workers from overseas. (Sorry for the run-on sentence!)
      Result: destruction of unions and the middle class, along with the respect that blue collar work used to command in the U.S.
      Thanks, Global Capitalism!

      1. Couldn’t have said it better myself, Mott.
        I give the American empire one to two decades more at the most. Either way, it’s only a matter of time before this country collapses.

    1. GSG- That article might have some truth to it, but then, it’s a financial news article that’s trying to put a happy face on the U.S.job market.
      It’s obviously not true that there are tons of high-paying blue-collar type jobs available now in the U.S. But- let’s pretend it is true- then why is there a problem? It’s because younger U.S. workers have been conditioned in the past 15 years + to not want to go into any “blue-collar” fields- to only go for white-collar “tech” jobs (i.e. using a computer in an office setting).
      Add to that, the fact that our imported slave labor (Mezzicans) are good at picking lettuce, maybe OK at the lower-skill trades, but sadly lacking when it comes to these “high-skill” blue-collar jobs your article touts.
      The real truth is, the only fields that are really hiring are shitty service jobs and health-care jobs like changing Grannie’s diapers. Welcome to the 21st Century economy!

      1. I didn’t believe it at first, but then I heard that a similar phenomenon was taking place in Canada, with people who had established degrees or even careers going back to school.
        I don’t know how many high school students are conditioned against trades, I suspect only in the upper middle class suburbs, where guidance counselors don’t actively discourage trade school, but probably don’t provide enough information to students who it wuld benefit. The problem is the amount of time spent in college, and they develop attitudes as a result. I don’t think eighteen year olds would be averse to doing temporary low level work, to be rewarded in the future.
        There aren’t many technical jobs in reach of women. Even secretaries are expected to hold diplomas from a four year college, and nursing will soon require masters degrees 🙁 I’d be happy to recruit the Psychology majors (who have amassed a mountain of debt) to work as care takers for aging boomers, with the option of climbing the hierarchy to more desirable positions within Gerontology.

        1. “So what? Women belong in the home.”
          Too predictable to be a mere coincidence. One might even think I set you up. 🙂
          I was most offended when Will said that women belong in the kitchen. I mean, you can turn us against our own children, in a way that feminism certainly never could, but don’t make me hate my favorite pasttime.

        2. Cooking of course. I am more passionate about abstract mathematics (a very male oriented field and with no practical use) but that’s more for stimulation than enjoyment.

  4. Remember when Dota said he wanted to set up quotas for American jews and send the remainder to work in vocational professions? I said that while liberal jews generally support improving conditions and benefits for laborers, they would kill their own children if they knew vocational trades were their only option. I’m not joking.

  5. A lot of factors contributing to the shortage of skilled workers and trades people, like the lack of vocational schools and universities. Another is most people think that there is lot of hard work in skilled jobs but less income so they tend to pursue another career. This is a good thing that the government issued National Tradesmen Day to change the views of people and to support the tradesmen around the world.

  6. Today, May Day, is International Workers Day. May Day has its origins in the struggle to establish an 8-hour workday in the US. We take an 8-hour workday as a given, but labor activists had one hell of a fight on their hands to get it for all workers.

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