View Full Version : taboo:wages

pete collins
07-31-2007, 11:26 PM
not sure if this is right forum...but it is most looked at.
a long standing taboo is not to ask and not to tell co-workers what each makes. this has always bugged me. it is not always the best worker that makes more money...it is the one that asks for more. but how much do you ask for if you dont know what others are making. i might ask for raise and get knocked down because i already make more...or get a raise of a dollar and feel good but still other less experienced workers still make more..seems unfair. that being said i was wondering what others here make and their skill level.
i make $22/hr and have 20 yrs experience and live in Kansas City Missouri.I work for a very high end contractor.i a trim/finish carpenter but know almost all phases of construction.not to handy with the HVAC. I also build cabinets,built ins, mantles and stairs(curved as well). most hi end work comes my way with my company if i am available.
hope to get some replys since we are not co-workers but brothers in trade,maybe this can help everyone.

Kendall Landry
07-31-2007, 11:44 PM
You and my brother have the same experience and job duties. And same high end contractor. He is in New Orleans and makes 25 an hour. Ask for a raise.

Jamie Baalmann
07-31-2007, 11:48 PM
When is the last time you got a raise that is an important point that you didnt mention. If nothing else you should get a cost of living pay increase EVERY year.

Rafael Carias
08-01-2007, 12:02 AM
Some one with your skill level makes about $28 an hour in my neck of the woods.

If you're not happy with you current salary or you cant get more out of the employers that give work then you should consider going solo.

Chuck Lenz
08-01-2007, 12:08 AM
Their are alot of variables when asking a question like this nation wide. First it depends on what part of the country your in which I know you stated, then theres how efficient are you and how good of work you do. Don't get me wrong I'm not questioning you or your work at all. I just think it would be a more fair question in your area. You must know of other trim carpenters in your area that work for someone else and have heard how good they are. Those are the people I would seek out for a fair idea of what the market in your area is. Unless you plan to move.

Pat Germain
08-01-2007, 12:12 AM
Do you receive any other type of compensation? For example, does your employer pay a percentage of any health insurance, life insurance, or contribute to a 401k or something similar?

If the answer is yes to any of the above, it may not be fair to compare your hourly rate to someone who receives no benefits. If the answer is no to each question, you probably deserve a raise.

glenn bradley
08-01-2007, 12:16 AM
I'm from the camp that feels wage discussion is taboo for folks at the same company. Whether its discovered that you make more or less than someone else, somebody always gets hurt. Glad folks here were willing to chime in with their input. I always try to keep a finger on the pulse of what my job should pay given all the non-money things that go into your 'total compensation'. A job that pays $2000 less a year that has better medical for half what another employer makes you pay and has better opportunity for growth may have a better overall compensation package.

If after factoring everything in; travel time, good/bad people you work with, flexibility for family requirements, etc. you feel you are under paid, I would shop around. Sometimes the fact that you are looking makes an adjustment appear out of thin air.

Sometimes you find out that you've got a pretty good thing going. Some times you find that it is time to move on. I've been in the same field for almost 25 years. The longest I ever worked at one company was 6 years and that was in 2 different 3 year stints.

I guess I should mention that as I have left 50-odd years behind me, I hope to finish out my career where I am. Your mileage may vary.

David DeCristoforo
08-01-2007, 12:28 AM
When I had employees I had the same policy. It was not a "rule" as such but it was asked that employees not discuss their hourly rates with other employees. This was not an attempt to keep wages low but, rather to try and avoid a situation where one employee might become discouraged because another was earning more.

In my shop, what an employee was paid was directly related to how much that person produced that did not have to be "done over" by someone else. It was simply a matter of looking, at the end of each day, at what that person had accomplished. I had no concern for what the "going rate" was. If an employee was making good money for me, that employee made good money as well.

Now and then I would have an employee come to me and say something like "So and So is making more than me and I've been here longer. I'm here every day and I'm always on time, so why am I not getting as much as he is?". and I would have to say "Just being here is not the point. I appreciate that you are here every day and that you are always on time. But look at what it cost me yesterday when you cut the parts for 150 cabinet doors out of the wrong material. And there's the fact that So and So can put a cabinet together in half the time you take and he does a better job of it. That makes him worth more money."

Of course telling someone that they are not "as good" as another worker is never easy. And it's even more difficult for the recipient to choke down. So more often than not, such an exchange results in resentment, which, as any employer will tell you, can soon poison the whole working environment. And that is the reason I tried to avoid this situation in the first place.

If you feel you are worth more money, simply go to your boss and ask for more money. Be prepared to explain why you feel you are worth more. Don't just have "He gets "X" so I should too...that probably won't fly...

Matt Meiser
08-01-2007, 12:38 AM
I agree on not discussing wages with co-workers. Not too long before I left my previous employer I was tasked with a project that used salary data within the software. I found out a lot of information that, in retrospect, I didn't want to know--like the fact that so and so made $xx,xxx more than me. That helped (but was not the only reason for) my increasing dissatisfaction with the company because of course I felt that I should at least make as much as so and so. That doesn't mean I was being paid unfairly. A good way to find out your true worth in the job market is to go on some interviews and get some offers. I found I my pay was pretty fair and I was just working for a not-so-great employer. There's a lot more to being happy at work than how much you make.

David G Baker
08-01-2007, 12:38 AM
Their are alot of variables when asking a question like this nation wide. First it depends on what part of the country your in which I know you stated, then theres how efficient are you and how good of work you do. Don't get me wrong I'm not questioning you or your work at all. I just think it would be a more fair question in your area. You must know of other trim carpenters in your area that work for someone else and have heard how good they are. Those are the people I would seek out for a fair idea of what the market in your area is. Unless you plan to move.
The job I had in San Francisco paid $29.30 an hour 7 years ago. The same job here in Michigan pays about $15.00 an hour with less benefits. The area where a person is employed makes all the difference in the world.

Graham Skinner
08-01-2007, 1:17 AM
I think that Matt has hit the nail on the head, when he said you need to be happy at work.
My first woodworking job payed $10.50 at a very small wood shop (only 6 people worked there) but the guys were very happy to teach me how to do the work and operate the machines, but the boss lost a big order just before christmas last year and had to let some of us go.
I got a new job the next day at a bigger company and was offered $3 an hour more:) seemed very good at the time, but now I wish I had my old job back again, because of the general pride that was put in to our work.

Chuck Lenz
08-01-2007, 1:23 AM
So true Graham, I've had more than my share of places of employment that you couldn't pay me enough to go back to.

Kev Coleman
08-01-2007, 1:28 AM
you might look at salary.com. you can get a nice full feature report that factors all the variences discussed in this thread into the report. it also provides strategies and talking points when you ask for raises.

dan moran
08-01-2007, 4:23 AM
union scale in chicagoland is $34/hr -or so the union guy i worked with on a non union job for a year told me. judging by some of the work he did, even the hacks make that kind of bread.

at that job i started at $10/hr cash- it was my first trim gig after doing 5 years of framing and i wanted to come inside, and by the time i was done there, i was getting double that- almost the same youre getting after 20 years of it?

if you're a really good trimmer, then you should command top pay for being the guy that covers everyones crap. if not, you walk, theres always someone else that will want flawless work in good time and be willing to pay for it. If youre a hack, then you are probably lucky to even have a job at all..

id definately shop around if i were you, let good work speak for itself, but also make it a point that good work isnt free- you are selling a service to your employer and you should get what you are worth.

if you feel youre worth $22 then i guess you are..

i wouldnt approach your boss with what others are making though. i would send the message that you feel you deserve more pay becasue the work you do is excellent and you have been reconsidering the value of the service that you provide him with.

highball the guy so he can come down a little - tell him you think 30/hr is fair. then negotiate. see what happens.

or dont, i dunno, it could get dicey, this is the internet, im just saying what i would do..

Per Swenson
08-01-2007, 9:01 AM
As has been said before,

Its location, location location.

Around here, with your experience and not working for your self,

300 a day 1500 a week 75 thou a year.


In the town I live, a couple making 150,000 a year

with two children and two cars and a mortgage will be dining on

tuna fish casseroles with 99cent mac and cheese just

to cover the nut and still panic at property tax time.

I am also from the school that it is nobody's business

and I really mean nobody. How much one makes.

I was raised in the Yankee tradition that such talk

was boring, uncouth and vile. Really.

Right up there with asking a Woman her age.

That being said, do some research for your location

using a comfortable commuting distance

and negotiate from there. Remember you are really selling your skills,

and your self as a person and barginning with the buyer to mutual

satisfaction is just another of life's many games.

Some times you eat the bear some times the bear eats you.


Justin McCurdy
08-01-2007, 10:21 AM
Hulk Hogan: "Everyone cuts their own deal in life brother."

Cliff Rohrabacher
08-01-2007, 10:42 AM
In the USA it is common that people don't discuss personal finances.

I am told that in Eueope they do freely. Maybe it's the old school trade unionist influence and maybe it's the social communism I don't know.

Jim Becker
08-01-2007, 10:56 AM
Tagging on to Matt's comments, there will often be quite a bit of variability in wages/compensation within an individual company...many factors affect that including how/when someone was hired and from where, experience/background and even subjective factors. Therefore, when you're trying to determine where you stand relative to your own compensation, it's best to look well beyond your immediate company and try to find out regionally what the range is for folks in similar positions. That's a lot easier to do these days with so much information available on the Internet and from organizations that are associated with your industry.

People in my industry has been struggling with this for some time now...and the highly competitive market has all too experienced situations where folks have been offered incredible amounts of money to move to a competitor. I know of several people who had nearly $100K a year more dangled in front of them to move to the same kind of job elsewhere purely as a move to get them away. Most of them ended up leaving those positions a year or so later for "performance" or other reasons...such as burn-out. So the grass is not always greener after a little time passes. ;)

To the OP's basic question, I know in my company, discussing compensation in detail publicly is frowned on simply because there are so many factors involved in setting salary and comp, etc. There is a great deal of variability that sometimes doesn't make sense, but is the reality of the business world.

Mike Null
08-01-2007, 11:13 AM
Obviously discussing salary should be a no-no. If you are an employee in a non-union shop shere varying rates are paid then it should be obvious who's worth the most money. That is determined by skill and productivity.

At one point I had an employee complain about his compensation claiming he had 20 years experience while others made more with less experience.

The problem with this fellow was he was confusing seniority with experience/skill. He simply never developed his skills beyond a certain point.

Ken Fitzgerald
08-01-2007, 11:21 AM
I'm in the camp that you don't discuss salary with co-workers. A few years ago (7 years to be exact) I had a co-worker leave the company and go to Romania as a missionary. The new guy they replaced him with didn't have as much experience in the exact field but similar. Shortly after he came on board, I got the biggest raise I'd gotten and I'd been in the field 20 years and with this company for 14 years. Why....to bring me up to par with what the company was paying the new guy.

Discussing individual salaries with co-workers can only lead to two things and neither are good:

1. Some one's feelings get injured because they find out they are being paid less than a co-worker and they think they are worth as much or more....

2. The individual that's making less will lie about it to maintain esteem with the co-worker.

Wages are regional and shouldn't be discussed among co-workers IMHO.

Craig D Peltier
08-01-2007, 12:51 PM
I agree betweeon co workers for many of reasons stated above, but between friends no big deal if they need to know or it fits conversation.You can always ballpark.
I was offered 18 here (seattle) to start as a journeyman finish carpenter and he said the top guy was making around 23-25 but no benefits.Small company.I didnt take the job I work for myself with no benefits.:D Except freedom to be on this site while I should be working.
My buddy whos a framer and all around construction guy makes around 20 or 22 in massachusetts with 15 years experience.
My uncle in boston union was making nearly 45hr hanging those lightweight drop ceilings, what a cake job that was for the money.
Sure does vary alot hah!

As you can see im not one fo them worried about talking about money amongst friends in the right conversation.

Al Willits
08-01-2007, 12:59 PM
I've yet to see a boss support chatting about wages, usually ends up someone whines about not making enough.
But I have no problem discussing wages with co workers, I understand some may make more than me and accept that, also gives me a idea of what basic salaries are, and if the boss is taking advantage of someone...mainly me...:)

All about how private you feel you need to be.


Dennis Peacock
08-01-2007, 1:43 PM
When is the last time you got a raise that is an important point that you didnt mention. If nothing else you should get a cost of living pay increase EVERY year.

What???? You mean people actually get a COLPI every year? I can only wish!

Jim Becker
08-01-2007, 2:34 PM
What???? You mean people actually get a COLPI every year? I can only wish!

It's been many years for that in many businesses. So much compensation now is purely on performance and negotiation. Any "raises" come from that, negotiation, changes in responsibility and/or a combination of these things. COLPI is pretty dead for many of us. (I used the "negotiation" technique in 2006... :cool: )

Glenn Clabo
08-01-2007, 3:03 PM
Because I work in a military organization everyone basically knows what everyone makes. Your position directly reflects your earnings within a pay band. It's still not something people actually discuss...only respect.

Greg Cuetara
08-02-2007, 12:05 AM
I guess I am of the young crowd here....I think most salaries should be out in the open. If I am not doing as well as someone else then I know that. I do agree that productivity is a much bigger factor than years of experience...although 90% of the time years of experience should allow someone to produce something faster, more accuratly etc. but that is not always the case. I think one problem I have is when someone walks out of school expecting to make more than me who has 10 years of experience and sometimes they get it...someone will have to explain to me how that fits into the mix.

Another factor that no one ever wants to talk about is that for the $20 / hr you are making how much money is your boss making off of you....another $20 / hr (profit) I personally think that fair profit is just that fair and reasonable....beyond fair and reasonable is abusing those who work for you. And with that comes another question...should someone be making any money off your back. Even if you are their employee shouldn't you be making what they are getting for your time and work. I am an engineer and once I become a licenced P.E. my boss called me in and said welcome you are now a salaried employee and will work how ever many hours I ask you every week to get the job done. Now if I work 50 hours in a week, I get paid for 40...my boss gets paid for 50....so he is making 10 hours worth of time off my back. I changed companies now and get paid straight time overtime anything over 40 hours. Which I think is fair.

I think the games come from employers who actually give raises based upon if someone asks them for one and not to someone else who may not...or they pay someone more coming right out of school more than someone who has been working for a few years....

In my previous job I thought I was getting the short end of the stick with what I was asked to do and how much I got. Now i am still doing the crap but getting paid more so I at least feel like I am getting paid to take care the crap work.

Like others have said if you feel like you are getting the short end of the stick shop around...if you think it is fair stay there....

I had a friend whom shoped around...his employer found out and offered him 25k more a year to stay...he hadn't even accepted the offer...he was just looking...ok i have gone on enough here
good luck

Joe Chritz
08-02-2007, 12:26 PM
When is the last time you got a raise that is an important point that you didnt mention. If nothing else you should get a cost of living pay increase EVERY year.

Any chance you will come here and run for county commission??