Tools, More or Less

In the IBEW, you are limited to certain hand tools that you may carry with you, and or supply yourself.  Large tools are supposed to be supplied by the employer.  This situation can cause a certain amount of differences.

Some Union locals are very lenient and others very demanding in their interpretation of the requirements.  If the employer doesn’t have the tool you need, you are stuck; sometimes to the point of not being able to do your job.  The whole situation bothered me very much because I had made some of my hand tools myself.

For instance, I had engineered and created some wire pulling guides so that I could pull wire by myself.  The Union would not have liked to discover those tools.  From their perspective, it was better for the employer to hire another man for a man-and-a-half job.

If you damaged, broke, or lost some of your employer’s tools, it put you in a bad standing with him.

There were times when I was working on the Expo grounds in Spokane in 1974 that I observed some workers become “dissatisfied” with the tool they were using.  (either from damage to the tool or the ignorance of the user)  The tool was tossed into the river and reported as “lost” to the employer.

On other occasions, when a man was drafted by the military, he would toss his tools into wet concrete because he figured he was never coming back.

Lastly, if you supplied a better grade tool for yourself (personal hand tools) there was a very good chance that it would “walk off the job.”  As a result, while I was in the union, my personal hand tools were cheap grade.  I couldn’t afford to keep buying expensive ones for other people.

Sometimes though I have met and worked with people that help you retain your tools.  One time when I was putting conduit in a block wall while it was being built, I dropped some tools down the center of the blocks.  They went all the way to the bottom of the wall.

I was trying to figure out what to do, and how to get my tools back when the block layer saw my dilemma.  He offered to retrieve my tools for me.  He located where they were and slid a block horizontally out of the wall.  We were able to reach down and get the tools.

He had the option of doing this because the mortar was not yet set.  When I had retrieved the tools he used fresh mortar and reset the block.  That’s the kind of cooperation that makes a job go well.

When I started AdenBecks, and hired men to work for me, I started up-grading my tools, as I wanted the men to be productive.

So far, so good.

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