Gun Industry Employment Bashing

In These Times, a ‘social justice’ type publication, has written an article about perma-temps (employees hired on short-term / temporary contracts that can be renewed indefinitely). This hiring strategy has been getting a lot of media coverage all over the country during this past year. This is a very emotive issue for people on both sides of the debate and I don’t want to get into an off-topic discussion on the pros or cons of this practice. Nor do I wish to push my point of view. I do however want to draw attention to the In These Times article in particular. I believe it unfairly targets Glock. I want to address two points.

1. The article claims Glock is effectively subsidized by government (Federal, State and Local governments). The author wrote …

Either way, public money is subsidizing these jobs. And that means the government should have some leverage over employment practices.

2. Glock would not be paying low wages if it wasn’t for the government subsidizing the company. The author wrote …

It’s not enough that companies are widening profit margins on the backs of low-paid temps—in some cases, taxpayers are helping them do it.

3. Glock pays experienced machinists $10/hour while they are paid almost twice that by other companies in Georgia. The author wrote …

Glock lists six separate staffing agencies through which one can apply for a manufacturing or warehouse job. One of the agencies, Automation, recently posted a skilled machinist position on its website for an (unnamed) gun manufacturing company in Smyrna. The listing called for an array of skills:

Applicants must have experience operating the robotic machine, must be mechanically inclined, must have metal working experience. Applicants must also be able to read specs and be technically skilled.

Applicants would also have to be extremely flexible: “This position rotates weekly between 1st and 2nd shift (this is a requirement),” meaning day and evening shifts. And the wages on offer for all those skills and flexibility? “$10 hour to start, but depending on experience, may go up to $13.” According to the BLS, the mean hourly wage for a machinist last year was $19.65.

To address the first point: Glock rose to prominence by producing a next-generation handgun that was lightweight, reliable and held 17 rounds of 9mm ammunition at a time when many Police departments were still using revolvers. Today they face stiff competition from companies such as Beretta and S&W. Law Enforcement organizations tend to choose their guns for a number of reasons (price, reliability and safety, after sales support). Glock competes to get contracts, they do not receive subsidies.

Regarding the second point: In These Times claims it is the government that allows Glock to pay low wages. From an economic / business point of view this is a crazy argument. Subsidies allow companies to pay higher wages because they have a guaranteed profit and are protected from competition.

The truth is that if Glock was not forced to own a factory in the USA they would not have one.  The Government (at Federal and other levels) forces Glock to manufacture their guns in the USA. Mr. Glock would probably prefer if his guns were made in Austria or by the much cheaper Glock workforce in the Philippines.

The reason Glock, and other European gun makers, have factories in the USA is because of two reasons. The first is that many government departments are required to Buy American. The second is that the BATFE prohibits many types of guns (non-Sporting guns) to be imported into the USA for sale to civilians. The upcoming .380 sub-compact Glock 42 was designed to be made in the USA specifically because they were not allowed to import it and sell the .380 sub-compact Glock 25 to civilians.

Regarding the third point: I find it hard to believe that Glock feels the need to add “must have metal working experience” to an advertisement for a skilled machinist. That is like posting a job for a Skilled Computer Programmer and saying “Must have three years experience programming.” and then adding “Must have worked with computers before.”. I believe the job mentioned in the In These Times article  is an entry level job machine operator job.

The median wage for CNC machine operators in Georgia is $16.52/hour (meaning 50% of workers are earning less than that). The median wage for CNC Machine Programmers in Georgia  $19.03 (close to the the average machinist wage claimed in the article). The median wage for metal cutting and pressing machine operators in Georgia is $13.79 (in line with the advertisement Glock’s employment agent published).

So in conclusion, In These Times is unfairly targeting Glock. Government rules and regulations force Glock to employ people in the USA (at the expense of Austrian workers). They probably employ them at a fair rate comparable to other local firms. They are not in any was subsidized by the government. The In These Times journalist is economically illiterate and understands little about the gun industry.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Mike B

    Is TFB retiring its tagine?

    • I also thought that when I read the headline, but then I read the story. The headline is definitely “off” for TFB, but the content of the article is not political, only correcting what a writer got wrong about a firearms company. I say they should improve the title and keep the article, because it is good, accurate information.

      • Steve (TFB Editor)

        I went out of my way to make it non-political, not even hinting as to my personal views on these types of employment issues (and I have very strong views).

        I changed the title as you suggested.

      • True it’s not our usual article but from time to time something like this comes up. We feel you could benefit in general from the information. I think Pauls article also sheds light on an aspect of the industry not often covered.

    • No not at all. This article shows an example of people with no knowledge of the industry writing erroneous articles using information they pulled out of the air or perhaps another orifice.
      It’s in no way political but shows how a company can be portrayed as the bad guy(of course).

  • nougabol

    You missed the mark on this one guys, you let emotions win over reason, this is, as hard as it is to say, just a very polite rant…

    A hallmark of politics in the most truest sense and not as stated above in your motto a hallmark of firearms.

  • Geoff a well known Skeptic

    I strongly suspect the cost of manufacturing in the USofA is still lower than the cost in Austria. Geoff Who does not own a Glock, but is thinking about it.

    • lukas washing

      lets see…

      minimum salary in this branch is 1900€ before taxes, makes approx. 1400€ for the worker after taxes. (in Austria,taxes are directly taxen from your salary)


      usually a skilled machinist will get at least(!) 1800€ ( 2441$ )after taxes.
      wich would be,in a regular 40h contract 11,25€/h or 15,24$/h

      fyi the machinist gets 15 payments a year (1extra as Holiday payment & 1 christmas payment)

      that means the yearly income would be around
      before taxes 40 000€ or 54 200$
      after taxes 26 200€ or 35 500$

      that means that the yearly cost of this machinist for the hiring company would be:
      51 500€

      69 900$

      • vamtns

        is getting paid monthly in Austria the law or is it left up to the individual companies? Very interesting info thanks for sharing it.

        • lukas Washing

          it’s the law…though you can pay earlier…but not really later…working courts are really fast to make troubles…

  • HTJ

    I thought one of the reasons Glock built the US factory was the get around Austrian export restriction?

    • norwegianwiking

      if it wasn’t for xenophobic, isolationist and downright unfair laws in the US, FN, Beretta, Glock and many others wouldn’t have their factories in the US at all.

      Imagine the drama if any us mfg. got a contract that stipulated it had to take its jobs out of the us to get it, or if the laws required the exportation of us jobs.

      US import laws and domestic mfg laws are inherently unfair, and it still amazes me no ones taken them to any kind of court to challenge them.
      Then again, you people allways get upset with dirty forigners “stealing your jobs” wether its mexican immigrants or outsourcing.

      • jdkchem

        You’re from a country with far more restrictive immigration laws than we have in the US yet we’re bad for wanting to enforce the laws we have?

    • lukas washing

      trust me by saying…if it makes money…the austrian government would not restrict, or at least just make it look restricted.

      trust me …i am from austria 🙂

  • Ray L

    I love these sort of articles. You reveal a little behind the scenes information and all of a sudden people get a little hot under the collar and start whaling and nashing about politics (usually in my opinion because they agree with the premise in the article under discussion). Thanks for this little insight TFB.

    • Cymond

      I disagree with the article under discussion and agree with this blog post, but I still don’t want to see it discussed on TFB. This is my one refuge AWAY from all of that.

  • whats the problem here? they have a job and they know its a temp job going in.

  • Seth Hill

    Three things to note:
    1) “Taxpayers subsidizing” jobs or wages has become the latest catch phrase to push for higher minimum wage. They like to state that by keeping wages low, taxpayers are paying for food stamps, etc, thus offsetting (or subsidizing) what they should be making.
    2) Glock, or any other gun manufacturer, cannot survive just selling to government or law enforcement. They HAVE to sell to civilians in order to provide firearms to government or law enforcement.
    3) Articles such as In These Times are written by people that know nothing about business economics, which is also the case with the majority of Americans, and thus they do not know that profits are usually set as a percentage on top of what it cost to make something. This is basic 101 stuff. Also, as you stated they are competing against other companies on contracts and thus have to provide the best deal (which typically price plays a major role into).

    • Nokloss

      To 2)
      Thats not right. I know Glock well, and they make almost 80% of their total earnings by LE or MIL contracts. The civilian sales are neat, but nothing special to Glock.

  • jdkchem

    One of the items that you did not hit on was how a temp agency works. While the farcical justice author got her panties in a twist because the temp agency only paid $10/hour for an alleged $20/hour job the truth is that Glock is paying the temp agency $20/hour for a $20/hour job.

    To add to your first point Glock and others sell to law enforcement agencies at a price us regular folks don’t get. If there is any subsidizing being done it is being done by the private sector.

  • Dave The Great

    This is really the wrong website for this article. I come here as a refuge from the typically angry political gun websites. There are plenty of those, and only one of these. Don’t break it.

    If you just want to inform us of the article, post a link, and let us rant and scream in the comment section. Don’t turn this unique place into the 100,000th angry partisan gun site.

  • greensoup

    Your conclusions are wrong. Government market does not subject them to normal industry pressures and basically allows them enough volume to operate a US factory at non-competitive wages. And perma-temping is unethical and basically intended to be illegal (or at least in California). The government should not be subsidizing unethical activities at the expense of US workers. They should be paying prevailing fair wage.

    Basically if they didn’t have to have the factory in the US and instead operated out of Europe its guaranteed that they would have to pay higher wages. Therefore having the large US orders and the gap down in pay is going to widen the margins of a foreign company at workers expense. A practice that typically would not be allowed in allowed and probably in direct contradiction to the reason they were required to open the US factory in the first place.

  • Aurek Besh

    Steve, regarding your criticism of the ad listing metalworking experience as a requirement, I do not find the ad unreasonable in that regard. Plastics, wood, composites, and other non-metals can also be machined (machining has a very broad definition), though usually it is on a much smaller scale. I have personally encountered orders (I am a machinist myself) for small runs of plastic prototype parts, as well as for plastic replacement parts of some long-discontinued device. The way I see it, it is more like asking for a computer programmer that has used Windows computers, as there just might be a small chance of someone who had only used Mac or Linux.

  • GoldStarFather

    Why would anyone care?? It is a liberal publication. Those of us here wouldn’t read the publication anyway. And a rebuttal here will not do anything, because those that do read the publication won’t see this one. It doesn’t make any difference what Glock does or does not pay. You pay whatever you need to bring in the talent that you want. If it wasn’t working they would change what they pay. That’s just good business. And since Glock does only good business, it is solely their decision to what they pay. Do you think Glock cares what others (liberals) think about what they pay?? Then why should we?

    It must have been a slow news day with a lot of time to waste.

  • Steve (TFB Editor)

    Guys, I hear you, you don’t like this kind of stuff on TFB. I don’t go out of my way to post articles like this. Probably not more than once a year. I do hate seeing a gun company unfairly targeted by mainstream media. For example I also defended Remington when they were attacked by CBS.

    • nougabol

      Thanks Steve,

      Not trying to be smart, not at all.

      I really, really like coming to TFB for news related on anything firearms especially since the community in comparatively small here in Belgium.

      But as Dave has mentioned also there are already zillions of politically outspoken pro-gun forums and websites…
      Of course we are all pro-gun and enthousiasts alike but that is not why we come here.

      I really like reading articles with news concerning firearms, but in all fairness I and others here like to draw there own conclusions regarding the politics behind them… Nobody likes to be reined in to pull another man’s cart.

      • Steve (TFB Editor)

        We are in agreement.

  • Eichenlaub

    I don’t see this as a very political post, and I wouldn’t call these folks mainstream.

    But, it was very interesting to get an idea of how shitty a job making guns could be.

    Maybe being a machinist just ain’t a good trade.

  • rob

    I will stick with my rugers

  • Jacob Morgan

    Using temps is very common in all manufacturing, and has been for a couple of decades now. The main reason is that every new employee is a hydra of lawsuits just waiting to happen. When one is a full time employee, that gives leverage to law suits. Temps are more the problem of the temp agency. It is basically a way to move legal liability onto a third party. Ideally after 90 days or a year or whatever the good temps are moved to full time.
    I don’t like it, and wish is was not that way. But if one wants to point a finger, point it at the nearest full page add or bill board of a sleazy lawyer bragging that they have sued employees into oblivion. At a prior job I had to deal with some of those issues, and the company attorney often said that there are people out there who file suits for a living, and some do-gooder judges always take the side of the “little guy.” The “little guy” who has done this ten times before, drives a new truck, and who could not care less if the facility closes up and leaves dozens of hard working people without a job.