The Freedom of the Blue Collar Worker

James Walpole/ May 10, 2020

Tradesmen, contractors, and blue collar workers hold the jobs no one seems to want. They get paid less generally than some office desk jockeys, and they may never be rich enough to own yachts or mansions.

But they are free in a way few corporate employees are.

Excepting the more unionized trades, these men and women can generally go where they want to go and work for whom they want to work. They can work for themselves, and they can work together. And if they lose a job, they can generally find substitute work more easily than the ladder-conscious, highly specialized corporate employee.

They don’t have to follow the speech codes or dress codes of the modern HR department. They don’t have to pretend to be “company men.” They can smoke, let a few cusswords fly, and wear overalls and boots without worrying about being “professional” or “socially conscious” or “woke.” Their work exists outside of the realm in which “acceptable opinions” are necessary because their work involves changing things rather than changing people.

They don’t have to sit at desks. They get to see the sunlight. And they get to play with some of the greatest tools and machines invented by man – rather than staring at backlit computer screens all day.

There are many factors to consider in choosing a career, but freedom should certainly be one of them – and anyone choosing a career should consider the special kind of freedom which tradesman hold over their corporate counterparts.

Photo by Vance Osterhout on Unsplash

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

1 Comment

  1. Hmmm

    “Blue Collar” workers who are not protected by some form of collective bargaining (Unions) or contracts are literally at the mercy of the employers be it the local small business in town or the giant Multi-national corporation in the city. “Blue Collar” workers not under a collective bargaining agreement seldom have any sort of formalized employee contract. As a result they often are denied basic benefits like health Insurance, vacation and sick pay or retirement plans. And those that do have any of these benefits are often exploited by for profit schemes that benefit the employer more than the employees. It should be noted that the majority of States grant companies broad authority to hire and fire at will absent an employment contract of some sort.

    For the record: I am college educated. I am an honorably discharged veteran of the US Army. I have held non-Union blue collar jobs as well as salaried mid-level management positions. And a few years ago I became a retired Teamster.

    I did read your bio James. It sounds from your bio that you somehow got an inside track in a hot start-up that 5 years later went public and you cashed out after the IPO. Of course, I may be completely out in left field here and you were actually on the Janitorial Staff. So, I am still not clear what real world blue collar life experiences, if any, you used in coming to your conclusions. Using only my own experiences as a guide, I have come to an entirely different conclusion about the virtues (or lack there of) of “Blue collar” jobs. Perhaps this is in part because my definition of “freedom” in general and real world “freedom” in the work place in this context appears to differ substantially from yours. Which is not to say your conclusions, regardless of your job experience, are less valid than mine, merely different.

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