We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I once knew a Lawyer. He was a friend and Bridge partner.
As he was leaving for work his wife ran out and screamed: "There's a leak under the sink".
He went in, cut off the water and called a plumber.
The plumber fixed the leak in under 15 minutes.
When he told the lawyer said that the charge would be $150 my friend said: "Hey, I'm a lawyer and I don't make $600 an hour".
The plumber said: "I know, I didn't make that much when I was a lawyer either".
That's what my friend told me. It may be just a joke.
I'm a pipefitter.
Cutting and threading pipe and screwing it together is just a very tiny part of the trade.
Five years is barely enough time to learn enough to be certified as a journeyman. A new journeyman still has a lot to learn.
The trade is far more complex and demanding than you can imagine.
designing the curves and bends, and then placing them correctly on the pipe is a highly specialised skill.
Doing it wrong can cause weak spots in the pipe, bad corners and curves where the material is weakened and/or the material flowing through it is going to slow down, causing problems.
And what the correct curve angles are and how to make them depends on the material and dimension of the pipe.
I graduated high school in 1961, and my dad, who was a union pipe fitter, offered to get me into the union. Union membership was more or less hereditary then. I chose to be an engineer. A good career, but I am not sure I ever made the income difference.
PS. There is more to pipe fitting than threading pipe. The work is physically demanding, and it is outdoor work in all weather.
Have you seen the cabs on modern farm equipment? A/C, bluetooth, etc... Some would put a Lexus to shame.
Now, I'm not about to say that farming isn't difficult and physically demanding, but very few farmers have to do their work 6 stories high in a non-airconditioned factory. It's not a competition, both know and use technical knowledge that you flippantly dismiss.
For some type unions, your assessment is true. I have no respect for "service" unions and think unions of government employees verge on being evil. However, trade unions are a little different. While there's ample opportunity for corruption, they do offer training and function as an employment agency. They also usually offer health insurance.
You fill out a job application! As for getting into the right local, did you know that the locals communicate with each other about job availability? It's amazing... you can be a member of Podunk Local 12 and get a job through Urban Local 47! Willingness to travel or relocate is good, but that's true even for college professors, right?
Now, my father, he had to borrow $7500, back in the 1950s, to bribe his way into the union. But there was no work where he lived. So he traveled to NY state to work, where he had to kick back 20% of his wages to the local there to get "a Syracuse book," allowing him to work in that local's area.
And, when he retired, the Pipefitters Union chiseled him out of any pension on the grounds that he had not worked long enough in a single local's jurisdiction. (He had to go where the jobs were.)
With respect to unions, especially the trades, the main problem is that we don't have many of them anymore. When I was growing up in the 50s, industrial and trade unions were common, and a unionized worker could earn enough to raise a family by himself. The unions also maintained the wages of non-union workers.
But the financiers/Ruling Class imposed free trade and open borders and destroyed the unions. They are immiserated the working class. Working class incomes have fallen for 40 years, and middle class incomes have stagnated. The Ruling Class captured all the economic growth of the last 40 years and clawed income away from the working class.
If you want to complain, complain about the criminal, treasonous Ruling Class that has wrecked this country. Complain about the neocons who have driven our foreign policy off a cliff, in the service of a foreign power. Don't complain about unions.