Lion of the Blogosphere

Not so easy to become a plumber

There a certain chorus in the comments on this blog and other “alt-right” places advising that young people should become plumbers because it’s a lot better than getting a college degree.

This article at CBS New York is interesting:

Hundreds of young men are sleeping on the streets of Queens Sunday night for a shot at a job.

CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported they are waiting for an application to the Plumbers Union Apprenticeship Program. One thousand applications are handed out in order Monday morning. After tests and interviews, only a percentage are accepted to the five-year program.

“It’s a long shot, so hopefully I get it,” Anthony Hughes said.

It’s my impression that the open call for a thousand people to fill out the application is for show, and that the real way to get admitted is to know the right people.

* * *

It’s interesting that the article says “Hundreds of young men.” I would have expected it to say “hundreds of young people.” Is there not a single woman who wants the job? Isn’t it politically incorrect to imply that only men can become a plumber? Or is it because the SWPL who write the article has such contempt for the job, he assumes that women are smart enough not to want it?

* * *

Of course the reason why plumbers make such good salaries for blue-collar workers is because of barriers to entry like described in the article. If anyone who shows up could become a plumber, salaries would tank. There are already many times as many applicants as there are slots available, so it’s bad advice to advise even MORE people to try to become plumbers.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

July 18, 2016 at 2:50 pm

76 Responses

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  1. Of course the word “percentage” is so vague as to be useless.


    July 18, 2016 at 2:55 pm

  2. I’ve never understood the alt right’s mantra of the trades.

    (1) The reason wages go up in any area is scarcity. If more people do it, do I need to finish this sentence? Most of y’all understand supply and demand.

    (2) What about mechanization and off shoring? Hell, what about immigration? What, precisely, makes it safer than academic work?

    The great secret about Americans’ snobbery about the trades is that it doesn’t actually exist. People are taking a good hard look at the present state, studying the past and coming to the very rational conclusion that it’s a terrible decision.

    (3) It’s just their way of admitting that they can’t change the underlying causes. It’s like when they try to promote home schooling because they can’t/won’t fix the public schools for white people.

    They big up living in the sticks, rather than those awful cities, for families because they ain’t getting the good real estate back for American whites. Ever. And they just lurve them some trade school, because it’s a way of glossing over the fact that they lack the ability to fix the economy so that people can skip college, study liberal arts, bum around for a bit etc., and not have it be an economic death sentence.


    July 18, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    • Good – Now Yakov will stop his rant about the holly grail of trades.

      If trades were so great and accessible, one would encounter Jewish plumbers and HVAC technicians, with frum hats and kippas. You don’t!

      Furthermore, many trades pay the same amount as a middle class, white collar position, but with more sweat & tears. So yes, trades aren’t really all that great!


      July 18, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    • ” What about mechanization and off shoring?”

      How do you mechanize or outsource being a plumber or an electrician? A person has to come to your house.

      “what about immigration?”

      If the unions are smart they will limit the number of people with jobs in order to keep wages high. Sounds like what they’re doing in this article…

      “it’s a way of glossing over the fact that they lack the ability to fix the economy”

      Who do you think has that power? Why do you think everyone else who does not have that power should not say anything about the best strategy for an individual to pursue?


      July 18, 2016 at 6:27 pm

      • “If the unions are smart they will limit the number of people with jobs in order to keep wages high. Sounds like what they’re doing in this article…”

        Yeah, and that won’t change the massive amounts of immigration, GOPe morons whining about unions being bad for the blaaaaaaacks and it assumes anyone wants to enforce such laws.

        “Who do you think has that power? Why do you think everyone else who does not have that power should not say anything about the best strategy for an individual to pursue?”

        (1) They won’t admit that it’s one way for an *individual* to escape the rising tide. For a time. Until they get older, the employers decide they’re too expensive and starts doing what the computer industry is doing with the H1-B visas. Or until they figure out a way to automate it (and DON’T act like it could never happen.)

        (2) They always begin and end with the retarded “traaaaaaaades!” nonsense. When have you ever heard them go on a sustained tear about how to fix the economy, at least to the same extent they do when they harp on the trades?


        July 19, 2016 at 4:04 am

      • “that won’t change the massive amounts of immigration,”

        No, but it is not in their power to do that. The only thing they can do is limit the effect of immigration on their profession by creating barriers to entry, as they are doing.

        “Or until they figure out a way to automate it (and DON’T act like it could never happen.)”

        (eyeroll) A robot that can come to my house and install a toilet or recessed lighting is so far in the future I’m not even going to worry about it.

        “When have you ever heard them go on a sustained tear about how to fix the economy, at least to the same extent they do when they harp on the trades?”

        The alt right does not have the power to fix the economy, so there is little point in them talking about it. For them to talk about how best to prosper in the existing economy actually does have a point. For them to convince people that many college degrees fail the cost-benefit test is extremely useful, because it is true. Moreover, when enough people become convinced that the traditional “go to college then get a good job” model is broken, then it is more likely that a political movement to fix the economy will be created.


        July 19, 2016 at 9:40 am

      • @Tarl:

        So the Alt-Right is basically a bunch of losers fellating themselves for being so awesome, while admitting when pushed that they’re achieving…nothing?

        I always thought so, but it’s nice to see it confirmed. Thanks


        July 19, 2016 at 10:11 am

      • Can YOU fix the economy? No? I guess you’re a loser who is achieving nothing, then.

        The idea that only losers would discuss how to adapt to large problems that they can’t fix is spectacularly stupid.


        July 19, 2016 at 10:30 am

      • And where precisely does the Alt-Right talk about how to fix the economy? As opposed to pontificating on how to, maybe, possibly, escape it for a few years?

        For that matter, when does it admit that what they’re talking about is, at best, a stop gap?


        July 19, 2016 at 11:06 am

      • And where precisely does the Alt-Right talk about how to fix the economy?

        You tell me. You are the one who brought up the alt right, so you must know exactly what they think. I still don’t know why you think they are required to have a “plan” to “fix the economy” when they will never be in a position to fix the economy.

        Why does it generate so much stupid sputtering rage in you that the alt right talks about how to mitigate economic woes on a personal level? If you don’t agree with their ideas, don’t follow them. You have your own ideas, and I dare say those also amount to escaping economic problems as best you can in the short term.


        July 19, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    • Not to mention the fact that trade work will ultimately destroy your body. From toxic exposure to everything from asbestos (mesothelioma sounds fun!) to exotic chemicals found in industrial settings, to a limited shelf life at work from physical wear and tear (chronic back damage is common-welcome to the pain clinic!), the trades are not all they are cracked up to be. Not to mention the trauma of having to deal with prole co-workers…in the end trades are the meme solution to employment.


      July 18, 2016 at 10:30 pm

      • Mate, office workers don’t suffer from back ache, obesity, carpal tunnel, heart attacks? Come on, be rational. The Ancients have taught us that the answer is moderation, the golden mean. Read Aristotle, Epicurus, Rambam.

        Sometimes you don’t have a choice though.


        July 19, 2016 at 7:05 am

      • Office workers have expensive chairs from Herman Miller and Steelcase so they don’t get back problems. And only the prole office workers are obese, never the elite office workers.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        July 19, 2016 at 7:55 am

    • It wouldn’t bother me if my children took up trades instead of going to university. It would only bother me if they didn’t give their best at whatever they chose to do. Because one can be successful and well-respected in most fields if they provide a good or service that’s needed and they’re good at it. Several of my friends started out in trades, founded their own companies and are very successful. A couple of them aren’t even really trades, just boring, dirty and unpleasant jobs. But there’s plenty of money to be had providing goods and services that are boring, dirty and unpleasant. And while others are feeling smug looking down their noses, my friends are getting even richer. Not to mention, they’re in charge of their own lives.

      What’s your real objection to trades anyway? Do you object to someone doing plumbing, mechanical or electrical work? Do you find those occupations morally objectionable not unlike drug dealing and prostitution? Do you find them beneath you even though they provide valuable services that you need and enjoy but are incapable of providing for yourself? Or do you simply resent that someone who went to trade school and took an apprenticeship instead of going to university earns more money than you? I think your values and attitude leave a lot to be desired.


      July 19, 2016 at 2:31 pm

  3. Lion, stop being paranoid. The writer wrote young men because that’s what she saw. OK? And you sound very contemptuous of those of us who believe that the way to sanity is to get a trade instead of some shit useless liberal farts degree. There are other trades. You can be a welder, for example, although some welding jobs will be done by robots in the future, the majority of welding jobs will always be done by people – ie, men.

    If you had read the article the guys are already plumbers, they are angling for a promotion. But yes it is very difficult to get a license in NYC. So become a plumber somewhere else.

    This is another area where Big Capital is trying to destroy everything. Chase Bank has a program that encourages “non-traditional” work for women. In other words, they want to destroy the one part of the labor economy where working class men of all races can make a good living. I don’t think there are enough Hispanic lesbians for them to accomplish this but it’s still disgusting that a rich creep like Jamie Dimon is behind this.


    July 18, 2016 at 3:05 pm

  4. What do you think about this? I think you’d agree that the economy is rigged, but you probably don’t like the libertarian implications.


    July 18, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    • It completely ignores the actual societies that have less inequality in favor of just sputtering at regulations that he reckons contribute to it.


      July 18, 2016 at 5:01 pm

  5. New York is an outlier in the US economy. I’ve lived around electricians/plumbers most of my working life, and they do well for themselves. Sure, they live in flyover land, but a lot of people live in flyover land.
    In addition to this, most people who are working the trades aren’t screwing their lives up with crime, drugs, etc. Idle hands theory on criminality. A lot of people with fill-in-the-blank studies degrees won’t be half as productive as your average plumber.

    Half canadian

    July 18, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    • “most people who are working the trades aren’t screwing their lives up with crime, drugs, etc. ”

      Unfortunately I’ve heard that drugs have invaded even the skilled trades. Some of these guys are real rough, and drink a lot.

      @Jesse, It’s not an alt-right manta, it’s sensible. Having mastery over something, esp. something masculine, is very empowering to a man.


      July 18, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    • Many White youths would leave the midwest and the south, in a heartbeat, if they had the means to do so. In many ways, prole life (relatively comparing to places like NYC) is stifling and boring.


      July 18, 2016 at 5:31 pm

      • In many ways, prole life is stifling and boring.

        Non-proles think that. Proles don’t. You may say, they don’t know any better, but that hardly matters.

        Lots of ’em, if they have a boat and a pickup truck, and they can go hunting and fishing, and they’ve got a big screen TV to watch sports, they’re good.


        July 18, 2016 at 6:29 pm

      • Many young proles today are different from the previous groups. They have the internet and many would want to explore and travel based on what they see online, but they don’t have the means to be cosmopolitan.

        In many ways, the digital revolution has made young people understood their place in society, ie…social status.


        July 18, 2016 at 7:21 pm

      • Nobody cares about living in NYC. I’d rather line in the mountains somewhere. If I had 20 million dollars, I sure wouldn’t be living in NYC. Maybe I’d visit for a couple of weeks a year.

        If I had millions and wanted to live in a city, I’d live in San Francisco.

        Most people aren’t going to be going to the symphony or eating at all the expensive restaurants on low wages.

        if you are below average in wages, NYC isn’t a great place to live. I’m sure it’s good for Trump and his family, but not the guys who work in Mcdonald’s in Times Square.


        July 18, 2016 at 7:11 pm

      • Young people do care about living in NYC. There are practically no vacancies in Manhattan.

        Plenty of tweedle dweebs from greater America, shove an arm & a leg to live the Manhattan/SWPL Brooklyn life, either with their own effort, or with their parents’ money. SF is another place, and just as expensive, if not more.

        Much of America is a shoddy place. And quite a number of young proles know their predicament early on. They’re stuck in a rut in their one horse towns, while all the SWPLs romp and feast, with their privileges in these liberal centers.

        Welcome to a Neo-Feudal America!


        July 18, 2016 at 9:00 pm

      • “Young people do care about living in NYC”

        Sure SOME young people want to live there., There are a few who want to work on Madison Ave etc but most aren’t going to get those jobs. You need money to do things in NYC. If you can get those jobs,great, but most aren’t going to get them.

        Mot people aren’t going to be Don Draper.Most might get a clerk job at Macy’s and have to commute a long distance just to work there. They aren’t going to be living the high-life.


        July 18, 2016 at 9:59 pm

  6. Of course the reason why plumbers make such good salaries for blue-collar workers is because of barriers to entry like described in the article. If anyone who shows up could become a plumber, salaries would tank. There are already many times as many applicants as there are slots available, so it’s bad advice to advise even MORE people to try to become plumbers.

    You could substitute “medical doctor” for “plumber” in this analysis and get the same result. The Plumbers Union Apprenticeship Program artificially limits the number of training slots for plumbers just as the American Medical Association limits the number of training slots for medical doctors. Only the doofus computer programmers let their wages and opportunities disappear.

    In NYC and all the big cities, whenever recruitment opens up for good-paying blue-collar jobs (e.g. the trades, police, fire), they’re inundated w/ applicants, most of whom could do the job, but there’s a limited number of openings. There’s an oversupply of labor at this level.

    I’ve shared this story before – two high school friends graduated from my Massachusetts city’s vocational high school in the early ’80s. Their unionized father immediately got them into the MA apprentice sheet metal workers’ union. After their four-year apprenticeship, by the late ’80s, they were earning $100K per year or more, gold-plated benefits, and four weeks off per year (plus two to four more weeks off collecting unemployment benefits when there was no work). Both retired after thirty years in their late 40s on full union pensions and health benefits for life.

    On the other hand, in a state like FL, there are no organized unions for trades persons. My FL employer recently hired a Master electrician with twenty years of experience for $45K. He told me he needed the steady paycheck and benefits.

    E. Rekshun

    July 18, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    • “Their unionized father immediately got them into the MA apprentice sheet metal workers’ union. ”

      Exactly. You have to know someone. That’s the same way, of course, that investment banker fathers get elite master-of-the-universe jobs for their children.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      July 18, 2016 at 4:31 pm

      • You need to know someone in the media too. Look at how many children of media figures work in the media.

        Harry Carary’s son and grandson, Marty Brennaman’s son Thom. Jack Buck’s son Joe.

        Ted Koppel’s daughter, Curt Gowdy’s son. Mike Golic’s son is now on Espn.

        There were 2 brothers at ABC news for years. I can’t think of their name now.

        Tim Russert’s son.

        Mario Cuomo’s son. I am sure he got the job because of his name, although he Mario is not part of the media

        There are many more.

        They can hire who they want , but everybody else can’t discriminate.


        July 18, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    • Yes, and NYC has plenty of NAMs who are taking away jobs from lower tier Whites, who otherwise can’t get a white collar job that pays a living wage!


      July 18, 2016 at 5:47 pm

      • Yakov – can you please figure out a way to shut JS up?


        July 18, 2016 at 10:12 pm

      • He is a privileged and protected troll. He’s got connections. Nothing can be done about him. Lion uses home to bait us.


        July 19, 2016 at 8:19 am

      • At least someone on this blog has an interest in responding to your comments about Bukhara and Tajikistan. How many readers here actually have an interest in these places that you’ve mentioned? I will be visiting Central Asia very soon!


        July 21, 2016 at 12:39 pm

      • Glad to see other people wising up. Being an insufferable provocateur is fine. Being a boring insufferable provocateur is not.

        Panther of the Blogocube

        July 19, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    • I wouldn’t trust that union pension being around when they’re 70. They just aren’t reliable anymore.

      Half canadian

      July 18, 2016 at 9:23 pm

  7. Of course it’s not easy to become a plumber. If it were, it wouldn’t pay well. Econ 101.

    David Pinsen

    July 18, 2016 at 4:45 pm

  8. Lol! Man, union jobs are scarce, but non union jobs are plentiful. I don’t know why there isn’t an oversupply of plumbers, but there simply isn’t. Same for HVAC and electrical, and carpentry and masonry and welding. I’m talking about good workers here. They are hard to find. From my class of 30 maybe two had a potential to become excellent, maybe 3-4 to become decent. OK APEX is the bottom of a barrel, but still. I’m stopping my side gigs now because I’m so bussy with my job that I don’t have time for them, also I’m really earning enough that I don’t even need them and can make more trading stocks. Where is oversupply? There is none. Just chose the trade you like and enjoy and the money will come. This is the American way, incidentally. America respects work.


    July 18, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    • Half the time you’re bragging about how much money you make and the other half you’re talking about how you don’t have to pay taxes because if you did you would starve.


      July 18, 2016 at 6:56 pm

      • Jajajaja = the Spanish equivalent for LOL


        July 18, 2016 at 7:23 pm

      • Mate, you have to focus when you read. My comments are straight forward and should be easy to understand, but apparently you are having a difficult time at it. Lemme spell it out for you.

        1. I don’t brag, but I do talk about my and other people’s income in the field in order to balance the negative rap that the trades are getting and to encourage people to consider them as an alternative.

        2. I don’t beleive I’d ever used the word ‘starve’, but if I had, it was obviously in an abstract sense. Now what I’m telling the mates here is how things realy work. If people deal in cash, it’s not me who sets the rules. If you need $250,000 after tax to live normally in this city, it’s not me who sets the prices. If $80,000 on the books is very little today, it’s not me who is responsible.

        After you process this, there is an additional idea that I push for. The question is what to do? So Lion and JS advocate a parasitic value transference occupation to earn what you need to live normally. I advocate a normal, value creating, constructive real occupation. To cover the shortfall in income the guys in the trade, independent of anything I say or do, deal in cash and hide their revenues in various other ways. This is how this city lives. This is so obvious that I often don’t know why I even write about it, but apparently some folks just can’t comprehend. This is ridiculous. Does anyone think that if you pay a guy $150 to fix your sink he’ll ever declare it as income?

        Now, apparently all these things bear repeating because our Lion is quoting a NYT article as a proof that there is a surplus of skilled workers, which there is none. JS is still dissing trades and America, but he is hopless and will never learn.

        I’m not saying that anybody should do trades. I’m presenting a realistic picture so that people should be aware of this alternative. However, I’m forcefully saying no to be engaged in value transference is a very bad way to live. These people should be send to a Gulag and ‘reeducated’ through forced labour.


        July 18, 2016 at 8:09 pm

      • @Jakov: I appreciate your insights, please continue. On the other hand, the tradesmen I speak to here in my mid-sized FL city don’t seem to have nearly as much success as you. They claim that there is severe competition for work. Anecdotally, there seems to be tons of plumbers, electricians, painters around here. And like I described above, my new coworker took on the corporate in-house electrician’s job for $45K because he needed the steady paycheck and benefits. A plumber that lives near me wants to do the same thing.

        E. Rekshun

        July 19, 2016 at 5:08 am

      • 45K is a very good salary in small Florida city for someone without a college degree.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        July 19, 2016 at 7:42 am

      • The city has a lot if Hispanics, I imadine. People from poor countries are very handy because they had to do their own plumbing, electrical and construction. They are cheap and often good enough for uncomplicated jobs. Most wouldn’t be able to install radiant heating though.

        $45,000 may be good by the living standards of that place, but not realy good. I figure you need to be saving around $20,000 and you cannot do it on this ridiculous salary. What can you realy afford? Nothing. Now if your girl pulls in $45,000 also it’s better. But who’s gonna take care of the kids now? Robots? Not too good.


        July 19, 2016 at 8:37 am

    • Bingo…agree 100%. Good to hear from someone else who’s speaking from knowledge of the industry rather than abstract theorizing.
      I’m in the construction industry in a fairly prosperous blue-state area (not as a tradesman, although I have done plumbing and other trades in the past). It’s true that it’s tough to get into the skilled trade unions, but most of the work is non-union. The plumbers I see do zero marketing, ignore most customer phone calls, treat the customers like shit, show up and leave whenever they want, and charge a fortune…and people are begging them to do more work. There just aren’t enough plumbers.
      Part of this is certainly produced by the supply constraint caused by licensure regulations: apprenticeship hours, exams, etc. But that doesn’t fully explain the situation. I’ve talked to plumbers about it over beers, and they complain that young people just don’t want to go into the field. Partly that’s because they think it’s disgusting (although in my experience you don’t actually come into contact with shit very often). But it’s also because school administrators are pushing every warm body into college, and because young kids are so caught up in their gaming/online worlds that the trades seem somehow archaic to them.
      I would also caution people not to judge their own likely outcomes in a field by looking at the average incomes that people in that field earn. You need to control for the talent level you’ll be competing against. Because the trades are devalued in our society, the people in them tend not to be the most talented. There are a lot of average white-collar guys who would be doing a lot better in blue-collar fields, and some of the most successful tradesmen I know are intelligent guys who went to college and could easily be doing more SWPL-approved work.


      July 18, 2016 at 7:06 pm

      • “The plumbers I see do zero marketing, ignore most customer phone calls, treat the customers like shit, show up and leave whenever they want, and charge a fortune”

        Sounds like a scenario for a comedy. Would be much more funny than the new Ghostbusters.


        July 18, 2016 at 10:14 pm

      • A lot of plumbing work in NYC is dealing with ancient boilers, not toilets. Of course you’ll have to do that too.


        July 18, 2016 at 10:17 pm

  9. New York is different because of its density, greater supply of potential plumbers, city bureaucracy, unions and importance of connections, etc. In the suburbs and exurbs, decent plumbers are in greater demand.


    July 18, 2016 at 6:30 pm

  10. One thing which I envy about the trades is that guys working on jobs together have a kind of male camaraderie that is gone from most types of work.

    I’ve done physical work alongside other men and the brotherhood is great. It isn’t even necessary to talk a lot except about the task at hand — the bond comes from the work itself. You can feel motivated to work hard and feel great about yourself and the people around you, and there is a deep sense of belonging.

    In most office jobs, that kind of camaraderie went away a generation ago.


    July 18, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    • @Dan: One thing which I envy about the trades is that guys working on jobs together have a kind of male camaraderie that is gone from most types of work…In most office jobs, that kind of camaraderie went away a generation ago.

      Yes, good point; and I’ve thought this myself. Corporate white-collar jobs do not not have any camaraderie. I think it might be due, in part, to the crushing competition to climb the corporate ladder or to simply hold on to one’s job, and the fear of saying anything that could be considered offensive. And there are many hypersensitive women around. At my workplace, in the departments closest to me and with which I mostly interact, there are a majority of mostly unpleasant, sneaky, gossipy woman. There is zero camaraderie. Everyone dreads the rare group luncheon. Frankly, I think I dislike everyone I work with.

      E. Rekshun

      July 19, 2016 at 11:26 am

  11. This is true for all trade. There are simply not enough jobs, even for people with high IQs.


    July 18, 2016 at 7:34 pm

  12. NYC is not an apt place to draw conclusions from.

    If these people were willing to live in a more reasonable city/metro area they would do great.

    Fuck NYC


    July 18, 2016 at 7:48 pm

  13. The only way to join without the Plumbers Union apprenticeship is to find a master plumber who is going to take you under their arms and mentor you.

    Unsurprisingly most master plumbers only do this for sons, nephews, and sons of close friends. Apprentices have to have over 7 years experience and then pass a written exam.

    This is a longer commitment than college and its harder than college. The idea that Americans too stupid to finish a college degree can work in trades is not true. Chances are if you are too stupid to get a college degree you probably are too stupid to pass the steps to become a master plumber.

    BTW: in NYC there are a lot of Jewish plumbers.


    July 18, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    • No one needs to have a master plumber license. All you need is to give a cut to a master plumber for a permission to use his. People work like this their whole lives. Same for electricians.


      July 18, 2016 at 8:24 pm

      • Yeah I agree that’s a common practice. But again who is making out well here? Master plumber taking cuts or the guy giving a cut just to work?


        July 19, 2016 at 11:28 am

      • Not much of a cut 10%. Not a big deal.


        July 19, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    • There is no problem to find a plumbing job. Stop it already! There are plenty of plumbers who need workers. The Russian papers are full of ads. My plumber friends take guys of the street and teach them the trade because they need workers. You guys have no clue, I mean realy no clue. I don’t even know what to call you. I was working with an Italian plumber on a job. We were both totally nuts. So after a few days he was offering me to come work with him and forget about HVAC because he can’t find anyone like himself. I loved the guy, but wouldn’t leave HVAC. Stop it already there us tons of work!

      ‘Vigilante Plumbing’ in Brooklyn has a bunch of trucks. You think his kids and nephews are driving them? My freind got a job with him straight out of school. One thing I can tell you for sure mates: trades are not for whiners.

      Anyway gotta run to gym. Gonna work on four key exercises now: chin ups, dips, front squat and deadlift. These are good for my trade.


      July 18, 2016 at 8:36 pm

      • how many consecutive chin ups can you do?

        Otis the Sweaty

        July 19, 2016 at 12:48 am

      • 11, I wanna work myself up to 20.


        July 19, 2016 at 11:13 am

      • @Otis: how many consecutive chin ups can you do?

        I maxed out at 20 strict, palm-forward chin-ups when I was in my late 20s. Now, at 50+ y/o, I max out at 15. I used to max out at 70 strict push-ups, but now it’s 50. I can still run a sub 19 minute 5K!

        E. Rekshun

        July 19, 2016 at 11:32 am

      • Excuse me? Why aren’t the kids on line for that union apprentice program just joining a plumbing company and getting their license that way??

        Its because the the average plumber hires lots of people and makes them do plumbing work. BUT he only takes on a select few to as official entrants to apprenticeship.

        The plumber is doing a 100 jobs at once, his apprentices supervise the workers. And then his workers who will never qualify for a license actually drive the trucks and do the hard work of putting pipes together.


        July 19, 2016 at 11:33 am

      • Jimi — In other words, only the best pass muster and go on to be plumbers. Sounds merit-based even if the number of plumbers is restricted.


        July 19, 2016 at 10:17 pm

  14. I live in rural upstate NY, where there is little to no union presence in plumbing (or regulation, for that matter). Every hillbilly and his brother can, and does, plumb by slapping his name on the door of an old van, with the result being that plumbing is worth little. The only reason these city plumbers do well is because of these union protectionist barriers to entry reminiscent of the Medieval guilds. I can just imagine the stench of cheap guido cologne at that queue to win the union lottery.


    July 18, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    • To make money you have to work for people who can afford to pay. Just finished an awesome install: 11 indoor units with 2 outdoor. Equipment and materials ran around $15,000, the job itself $45,000. Who can afford THIS in rural NY? First thing you have to do is to size up if the customer can afford the job. If you think he can’t, just kill him with the price and get out. You ain’t gonna make a living wasting your time on losers.


      July 18, 2016 at 10:44 pm

  15. One advantage of a trade is that if things are terrible in one place your can move to another.. For example:


    July 18, 2016 at 11:26 pm

  16. Thanks to my side job at the Major Home Improvement Retailer I’ve heard some stories about just how hard it can be to break into the construction unions. While knowing someone is essential, it isn’t enough. And even being in most unions is no guaranteed path to fortune. There are a LOT of tradesmen out there scuffling around for work, regardless of economic times.



    July 18, 2016 at 11:39 pm

  17. Hugging toilets all day? Ugh.


    July 18, 2016 at 11:42 pm

    • Why is this any worse then being a gynecologist or a shrink. Plumbers do it only occasionally anyway, but shrinks have to listen to nuts all day. I think this is why most shrinks are unhinged themselves: the nuts eventualy make them nutty.


      July 19, 2016 at 7:19 am

    • As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, clogged toilets make up a very small percentage of plumbing work.


      July 19, 2016 at 11:25 am

  18. >>If anyone who shows up could become a plumber, salaries would tank.

    Anybody can be a plumber in New York, you just can’t be a union plumber. So many of the union trades have been underpriced by non-union labor that it isn’t even worth being in the union anymore. I have a friend who was in the New York carpenter’s union. When he started in the late 70s he was employed 50 weeks per year. By the 2000s, when he quit, he was lucky to be working 3 months per year. He told me that as of the early 2000s there were only 4 contractors in NYC still using union carpenters, vs over 30 when he started in the 1970s. Other trades whose leverage has been seriously eroded by non-union labor are: masons, electricians, wall boarders, laborers, concrete workers. The only trades worth working union in New York are ironworkers, elevator repair, heavy equipment and sand hogs (tunnel builders). Ironworkers pull the same stunt as the plumbers. Every 3 years they pass out applications and the applicants are camped out for days outside their union office in Long Island City. I hear you can get into the sand hogs by just showing up at the union office and “shaping up”. You may wait weeks before you get your first 2-3 day assignment, but if you stick at it (several months) you will eventually get a long-term assignment and essentially be in the union. It will also help if you have an Irish name.


    July 18, 2016 at 11:44 pm

    • WRONG: you are not allowed to do plumbing work as defined in NYC Building Code unless you are a licensed “Master Plumber.” Obviously anyone can do plumbing illegally to avoid getting caught but these aren’t guys making six figures a year.


      July 19, 2016 at 11:26 am

    • The only unions with any real power any more may be the local police and fire unions.

      E. Rekshun

      July 19, 2016 at 11:39 am

  19. A good ASE certified auto mechanic, working for a reputable dealer, can make $100K. An old acquaintance regularly made $85K twenty years ago working for a large dealership in Kansas City.

    E. Rekshun

    July 19, 2016 at 11:37 am

    • Auto techs can be pretty much exempt from labor competition, especially if they’re the trouble shooters and diagnostic whiz. Hardly anyone has the brains to understand modern cars and all the electrical systems. It’s especially hard when you have to deal with 15 different makes, made over a 15 year period of time. Just too damn much too know and remember, let alone have the special tools you need to actually fix it. Service manuals for one car in the mid 70’s where 1 inch thick and you had to read at a freshman college level to understand them. Now, it’s about 10 inches thick and probably post grad reading level. Not many are going to be able to swing that.

      So you’re not going to have some Juan Gomez sneak across the border and learn enough to take your job like a plumber. 40 years ago, when I started wrenching, we had a saying about plumbers knowing 2 things; shit runs down hill and payday’s on Friday. Nothing much has changed.


      July 19, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    • Check out Vigilante Plumbing on They have a help wanted add offering from $70,000 to $120,000.


      July 19, 2016 at 8:59 pm

  20. @Jakov: Who is paying the workers comp, unemployment insurance, and FICA for the plumbers that get hired by a legitimate plumbing firm like Vigilante? Do the plumbers working for Vigilante get health insurance and paid sick & vacation time?

    I suspect that the plumbers and other trades people working solo on their own don’t pay workers comp, unemployment or FICA, right? And don’t declare their earnings as income, right? So, with a low enough taxable income, they would qualify for a heavily-subsidized obamacare health plan, food stamps, and other government aid.

    E. Rekshun

    July 20, 2016 at 5:35 am

    • Vigilante is a 100% legit company it has 401k, vacation, everything is on the books. Nobody gets paid cash. Checks only. Good place.

      Everyone, except solo guys that do the most basic stuff, has all the necessary insurance and pays workers comp. There is no way to work without it because exposure is too great. All you need is one accident to lose everything you’d worked for. They do pay a small portion of the salary as a check so the workers can qualify for various programs, there is no such thing as cash only. As companies grow, they have to increase the check portion because they simply don’t have cash. My company stopped giving cash years ago. Once you move into large residential or commercial work you don’t have a choice. Some never do it for this reason. Stay small with 4-6 guys and you are golden, go bigger and it’s brutal, go bigger still and starts getting good again. This is how it is: poor and rich is good, it the middle that has to tough it out.


      July 20, 2016 at 7:41 am

      • Good answer. Thanks.

        E. Rekshun

        July 20, 2016 at 11:32 am

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