Coplay Cement, early plant. Photo courtesy of Larry Oberly.

Inflation is a concern of everyone, so we thought we would look at wages in 1942.

We have a labor agreement from Coplay Cement Manufacturing Company and the United Cement, Lime and Gypsum Workers International Union Local No. 14, Coplay.

I guess I will attend the negotiation meeting. Here are some names our older readers may remember:

The union: Raymond W. Ambearle, president; committee, Ralph Brader, John Lohr, John

Cement Workers Contract, 1942. Photo courtesy of Larry Oberly.

Bundra, Charles Walockovitz, James Kern, Edward Deichmeister and Ralph Proctor.

The company representatives were M.G. Gruenwald, president, and D.J. Uhle, vice president.

The agreement states, as of April 1, 1942, all hourly pay rates increase 5 cents. Packers receive a piece-rate increase, 8 cents per 100 c.

The union sick benefit committee stated benefits as $2.50 a week for 15 weeks. A doctor’s certificate must be provided at time of notice.

Even though the year is 1942 – a war year – these rates may shock some of our younger readers.


Labor, 70 cents

Blaster, 80 cents

Truck driver, 83 cents

Repairman, 3rd, 86 cents

Repairman, 1st, 96 cents

Electrician, $1.08

Shovel operator, $1.08

Foreman, $1.08


Labor, 70 cents

Beltman helper, 74 cents

Truck driver, 76 cents

Stone house foreman, 78 cents

Head oiler, 80 cents

Crane operator, 89 cents

Kiln burner, 90 cents

Electrician, 1st, 90 cents

Mill foreman, $1.07

Clean silos, entering, $1.13

A laborer supported a family on $28 a week; a mill foreman, $42.80 a week; and blasters, $32 a week.

In 1942, the consumer purchased a loaf of bread for 9 cents; a new car, $920; typical house, $3,775.

The average annual income was $1,885.

During World War II, a number of products, including gasoline, were rationed. It was almost impossible to purchase a new automobile. Butter, meat, sugar and many other items were in short supply.

Many of the jobs listed in the labor contract no longer exist in our cement plants. Automation has increased production with less manpower. Control rooms have replaced kiln burners, millers and many others.

Were the “good ’ol days” better?

We’ll have more in two weeks.


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