By Charles J. Tillotson
Editor’s note: The previous post about Charles Hauber, an employee of Tillotson Construction Co. in the mid-1950s, raises a question: What were a timekeeper’s duties on a grain elevator construction project?
The timekeeper’s duties were often directly proportionate to the project size. On small projects the timekeeper’s duties were performed by the job superintendent. If the size of the job warranted a full-time person, his duties would require him to daily monitor the laborers on the job and their hourly rate of pay, either by requiring each individual laborer to personally check in with him in the morning, thereby “starting the clock” for the labor to be performed for that day.
On larger projects with a given steady number of workmen on the job with constant types of duties being performed each day where personal check-in would take up too much time, the timekeeper would merely check out each laborer’s hours, task, and hourly rate for each workman via personal observation and contact throughout the day.
The timekeeper was also responsible for recording the hours worked by the on-site administration and supervision personnel, but usually the pay rate for these people, including himself, would be held confidential.
In any regard, no matter the job size, the responsibility of the timekeeper was to accrue, on a daily basis the name of each laborer, his hours worked, his job and his rate of pay. This daily tabulation for all labor and supervision personnel would then be transmitted to the accounting department in the Tillotson Construction Co.’s home office in Omaha.
The Accounting Department would then convert this information into the individual payroll checks to be issued to each workman. This was usually on a weekly basis. In many cases, where the job was in a remote area and there wasn’t enough time to transmit the payroll physically, the payroll checks were written on the job site by the timekeeper after receiving the amount of each check via the telephone from the Accounting Department.
The timekeeper’s job was a very important position requiring a person of integrity, honesty, and dependability–for without those key characteristics the possibility of achieving a successful and profitable project couldn’t be accomplished.
Chalmers & Borton were a large elevator construction company out of Hutchinson KS. At the height of the cold war elevator build up, they managed multiple crews all over the country with an emphasis on Kansas. Even had an airplane to do site checks. They hired crew brokers at the Mexican border to import labor by bus for seasonal elevator construction. Multiple crews worked around the clock to build the slip form concrete elevators. The timekeeper work was made easier by each worker wearing a numbered pin.
Thanks, Linda, for the interesting detail. That’s just the sort of thing that someone should have photographed.