Quite often, the color of a person's work shirt is used as a bit of cultural shorthand to determine his or her socioeconomic class. White collar workers are often associated with the upper middle and rich classes, since their work is primarily office-related. A blue collar worker is generally viewed as a middle class skilled laborer, who may work in an industrial setting or other hands-on professions. A pink collar worker is a person in a traditionally female job. In some countries, such as Great Britain, there is also the black collar worker, who barely earns a subsistence wage as an unskilled laborer in coal mines or other labor-intensive jobs.
The "blue collar" aspect of the term may be a misnomer these days, since skilled laborers and union workers are not necessarily limited to blue work shirts anymore. The original work shirts created for the middle and lower class workforce were indeed blue, often to match the blue denim work pants and overalls favored by factory workers. White shirts would never survive the harsh conditions of a factory, so they were reserved for clerical workers seeking a professional appearance. Management and labor leaders often recognized their peers by the color of their shirts.
Over time, the term blue collar worker entered the public vernacular to represent the hardworking Everyman, a regular working class citizen who provided for his or her family. This type of worker is often viewed as having traditional values, a strong sense of patriotism and a solid work ethic. Many are either members of a labor union or strongly support worker's rights in non-union labor situations.
This connection with the common man has led to a few other nicknames associated with skilled laborers. He may be a "Workaday Joe," a "regular working stiff," "Joe Six-Pack," or "Joe Lunchbox." Many are content to work 40 hours a week for decent hourly wages. For many blue collar workers, working overtime or on holidays is their preferred version of a white collar performance bonus. Retirement typically means a nominal company or union-funded pension, not a golden parachute or perpetual stock dividends.