Mike Rowe is a TV host, writer, narrator, producer, actor, and spokesman, but is best known for his TV show, “Dirty Jobs.” He has starred in numerous commercials and works with a variety of brands. He currently runs a Facebook WATCH series called, “Returning the Favor,” where he interviews people across the country who are giving back to their communities.
Aside from traveling the country to promote the good that others are doing, Rowe is extremely active within his community. He runs a scholarship program called “the Work Ethic Scholarship Program.”
The work ethic scholarship program is for those that want to get into the field of trades. The description states, “calling all plumbers, carpenters, electricians, welders, auto-technicians, and anyone getting trained for skilled jobs that are in demand!” The scholarship covers the cost of a selected applicants training. The catch? Applicants must sign the S. W. E. A. T. Pledge, which stands for “Skill & Work Ethic Aren’t Taboo.”
Recently, Rowe posted a note he received from a women whose son wanted to apply to his scholarship program who was appalled at the requirements.
The note read:
“Mr. Rowe – I heard about your “work ethic scholarship program,” and suggested my son apply. He wants to be a welder! I was appalled though, when he showed me your “sweat pledge,” and told me that signing it was required of all applicants!! Where did you come up with this nonsense? There are so many things wrong with this document I don’t even know where to begin!! Suffice it to say, we will not be applying!!! Karyn Segal”
In case you’re wondering, what is a “S. W. E. A. T. Pledge?” Here it is:
After reading the S.W.E.A.T. Pledge, do you agree with Karyn’s disagreement with it?
Rowe wrote back to Karyn to explain that she was not the first parent to object to the pledge.
“Hi there, Karyn! How’s it going? If it’s any consolation, you’re not the only one to object to my S.W.E.A.T. Pledge, or do so with an over-reliance on exclamation points!! Over the years, it’s been my sad duty to inform lots of angry parents that this particular pile of free money might not be for them, or for their children.”
Rowe tells the mother that the scholarships, or “pile of free money” as he calls it, might not be for her or her son. He then continues to tells her that the S.W.E.A.T. Pledge is only for people who align with his views. If they do not believe in the “importance of hard ethic, a positive attitude, delayed gratification, and personal responsibility,” then they are not fit for the scholarship.
“To be clear, I wish your son every success – sincerely. Opportunities in welding have never been better, and people are hiring certified welders all over the country. But to be clear, I have absolutely no interest in paying for his training if doesn’t share my opinions on the importance of hard ethic, a positive attitude, delayed gratification, and personal responsibility.
He continues by telling the mother that there are plenty of other scholarships out there that don’t come with strings attached. He goes on to explain that he came up with what she calls “nonsense” back in 2008 when he was looking for a way to demonstrate what qualities he was looking for in an applicant.
“Sorry – I made a promise to the people who contribute to this fund, and I can’t bend the rules. Fortunately, lots of scholarship funds will hand out money with no strings attached, and if you poke around, I’m sure you’ll find one that’s more in line with your worldview. Now, on to your actual question: I came up with this “nonsense” about the same time I launched mikeroweWORKS. Back in 2008. I was looking for a way to encapsulate the qualities I value most in a document that would become part of the application process. What I settled on was the S.W.E.A.T. Pledge. It stands for ‘Skill and Work Ethic Aren’t Taboo.’ Mostly, it’s a collection of beliefs that I think every worker would benefit from embracing.”
Mike goes on to say he was curious about which part of the S.W.E.A.T. Pledge she found most objectionable. He states that he usually receives complaints about #1, #2, #5, and #8. He says people object that it is too patriotic, and have accused the pledge of being a “conservative manifesto.” He points out there is nothing political in his pledge, but that the points contained align most with a classical liberal view.
He also states that he has been told “my pledge is ‘weighted heavily in favor of employers,’ who are really just looking for ‘more and more ways to abuse their workers.'”
He disagrees with his critiques, stating that, “it’s very popular these days to portray all employers as the enemy, and hard work as the reason for individual unhappiness. I reject that out of hand, just as I reject the idea that the ethic of an individual worker has anything to do with race or gender.”
He interjects that, “personally, most of the successful employers I know started out as employees who would have enthusiastically agreed with every statement in this Pledge. But again, that doesn’t mean you’re wrong to disagree – it just means your current objections – while welcome – are not very persuasive.”
He ends his letter stating that he has raised a significant amount of money by selling the S.W.E.A.T. Pledges to a variety of institutions. He stated that thousands hand in a variety of places like schools, factories, construction sites, and even offices. He then offers to send the mother a free poster, to reconcile any hard feelings.
What do you think about the S.W.E.A.T. Pledge? Good? Bad? Worth the scholarship money?