Wages

Electrician wages have always varied according to where you are, and when you worked there.  Union wages were always more than non-Union.  Big city wages were always more than small community wages.

I started out with nothing.  Literally.  The first thing I ever did in the electrical trade was to set up a wind charger on the family farm.  (Blog post #1)  When I went to work for a family friend, helping him change farm houses from wind chargers to the REA (Blogs 2-4), I can’t even remember now what I was paid, but I’m sure it was less than a dollar an hour.

The only expense I had in those days was gasoline, and it was at $.21 per gallon.  I wasn’t paying much attention to wages at that time.  I was more interested in learning.

The first wages I can remember receiving was in Glasgow, Montana.  I was working for an electrical contractor that paid me the grand sum of $1.50 per hour.

One day a gentleman came around saying he represented the U.S. government.  He wanted to know how many had served in the military.  There were two of us employed on that job.  The other guy had served in the army, so he was given papers to fill out.  The papers were to record how long he had worked at whatever kind of work he was doing.  He was supposed to fill them out weekly.

I told the government man that the military had notified me that they didn’t want me and I didn’t argue with them.  (Maybe they had determined that I was too crazy, “but it kept me from going insane.”)

The government man gave me the papers anyway, saying it wouldn’t hurt to fill them out weekly and send them in.

The other guy faithfully filled out his papers weekly.  I worked with him for several years and he finally received a certificate from the government saying he was a journeyman electrician.

I never sent any paperwork in.  I was too independent and I thought it was a waste of time.  I got a certificate at the same time as the other fellow.  I was really surprised!

My wife tells me I save big boxes, in which to put little boxes, the certificate must be among my souvenirs somewhere.

As I wasn’t in the IBEW, my wages gradually went up.  By the time I left Montana in 1969 my wages had gotten up to just under $5.00 per hour.

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