Who wants to hire a “jackleg”? What’s a “jackleg” you ask? The informal version of the meaning is “A person that is unscrupulous” a person “without professional standards” or “Incompetent”. The Historical Dictionary of American Slang gives a slight variation and is more in line with how we have heard the term used, it means “something that is hastily thrown together, ragtag or shoddy,” and they refer it directly to work being done by an untrained carpenter or builder.
In the early days of plumbing in the Chicagoland area, plumbers were referred to as “jacklegs” because the trade was so new, the people doing the work were often untrained and ill equipped to perform the work. In fact in the early days of plumbing in Chicago, plumbers owned combination hardware, tin and piping businesses.
It wasn’t until after the Chicago fire in 1871 that the plumbing trade began to get it’s act together, to standardize codes and training. Many “plumbers” during this time period were either untrained or poorly trained. Reputable contractors feared their reputation would be damaged by the influx of these new and abundant “tradesmen”. It was a direct result of the huge growth spurt that moved the plumbing industry to act. In 1882 the Master Plumbers Association formed and the rest is history.
The funny thing is that history has a way of repeating itself. The downturn in construction has left 10’s of thousands of tradesmen out of work over the last 5 years. Just because these “tradesmen” have been trained to do some of the work does not mean that they have been trained in the business of the trade. We now have thousands of people running around attempting to perform a trade they are untrained, ill equipped and unlicensed to perform. The amount of plumbing being done by the “jacklegs” of our time is staggering.
We hope you enjoyed the explanation of the term “Jackleg” and the bit of history that followed. Don’t hire a “jackleg” hire us at Expert Plumbing Service, Inc. We are licensed in your area, trained by the best and in constant pursuit of excellence in customer service.
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