Steelworkers Celebrate Return to Furnaces, “Burned Out” Millennials Quit Cu$hy Job$


Last week there were two stories that gave readers stunning insight into the dramatic difference between some of our nation’s white collar millennials, and old school blue collar workers. 

The respective headlines were, “Burned-Out millennials are quitting lucrative jobs” vs. “Steelworker Cries Talking About Donald Trump at Reopened Granite City, IL US Steel Plant”. 

 The subtext of the first headline was “Millennials are bailing on their high-paying jobs to “travel”.  Several young people shared their stories.  Twenty something publicist, Sarah Solomon, describes her life style as “New York glamourous”, but was very unhappy about having only two weeks of yearly vacation time. 

Her boyfriend, Tim Mason at the age of 26, left a six figure job, because he was turned off by a “50 hour work weeks with a measly 10 days of vacation every year.”   

Last summer a 31 year old Gracie Halpern quit a six digit copywriter’s gig that had her flush with cash and the “external trappings of a successful life”.  “I had all this money, but I spent it all on therapy and healers. I started having these panic attacks where I’d wake up and think, ‘This can’t be my life’ — I was stressed and overworked.” 

Based on an online article “about where you should travel solo based on your zodiac sign”, Gracie, a Pisces, left for India. 


Compare those three reactions, with the response of  3rd generation, Illinois steelworker, Anthony Vitale.  Tony literally tried holding back tears of joy when discussing the opportunity of returning to the Granite City mill.  During an emotional interview he shared some of his thoughts.  

When told his job was hard, he said, “I’ve had worse.” and continued, “It’s my calling.  It’s what I’m meant to do.”  Asked what all this meant to his family Tony replied, “It’s a way of life.  (tearing up) We’re gonna make it.” 

He described life during his 2 ½ year hiatus from steel working.  “To make it, I’m doing 70-80 hours a week to keep my family under a roof. (now) I can make a living doing a 40 hour week, and still see my family.” 

While this article isn’t meant to condemn or mock a whole generation of young Americans over the actions of some of their brethren, there does seem to be an increasing percentage of millennials ditching big bucks, desk jobs, for reasons most every blue collar worker would find implausible. 

For someone just embarking on a career, and making over $100,000 annually;  2 weeks vacation, and a 50 hour week are deal killers?  Writing copy, while a terrific skill set, calls for spending a ton of dough on therapy and healers to ease panic attacks?  

Meanwhile, Anthony Vitale, along with hundreds others like him in Granite City, Illinois have spent a very tough couple years looking for almost any kind of job to support and maintain both their families and community.   No trips to Hawaii, Bali, or India for them.

The headlines capture so much about the disparity between these two groups of people.  Consider the spectacular irony.  While “burned out” millennials flee their comfy, air conditioned physical surroundings, steelworkers celebrate the chance to work 40 hours, in a mill preparing to run two blast furnaces, operating at temperatures between 1600 to 2300 degrees Fahrenheit.  

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