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union pay

Do the math and write down an paper:
1. What is the retirement benefit worth?
2. What are you saving for retirement today?
3. If you add the two, how much more will you have at retirement?
4. Do you have health insurance today? What does it cost you? If you don't have insurance, you should.
5. What is the insurance worth?
6. Can you personally/emotionally deal with the work ethic of some union workers and the crazy rules of what you can and can't do.

I find making a paper chart of all the pros and cons and dollars and cents makes these decisions easier.

Are you in your own business now, or working for someone?


  • bill_97
    bill_97 Member Posts: 172
    union pay

  • Dave Yates (GrandPAH)_2
    bad boys

  • Rich Kontny_5
    Rich Kontny_5 Member Posts: 116
    Best thing that ever happened....

    To the unions was the non union movement and conversely the best thing that happened to non union workers was the union movement.

    I have had this discussion many times. (Even with our Local president). The unions were organized and grew when management took advantage of workers. Had management been fair to their workers there would have never been a labor movement or unions. Unions by the way were not a new concept even in the early 1900s.They were new to America, however the labor guilds of Europe were the pattern for the unions we see today. Organized crime was (and I emphasis was) a factor in America's labor movement.This is no longer the case.

    A short history lesson will tell you that the 40 hour week, many benefits and many sound pension plans were fought for (sometimes literally) by heroic union members. The child labor laws are the result of labor unions and the power that comes with a group versus management versus an individual against management. Easy to see the unions growing especially after WW2 when America geared up housing,manufacturing and large groups of workers in different professions. Times were good if you were union in the late 50s-60s-and seventies. Then the economic pendulum swang too far! Unions made misstakes when they protected poor workers and made (and sometimes received) unreasonable demands.

    Complacency and even laziness crept into many union ranks, tarnishing the image of many unions and also the reputation of even their quality members. This gave management and owners the leverage to pull the pendulum back and regain the upper hand once again. I believe the replacement of the air traffic controllers was the beginning of union decline early in President Reagon's first term.

    The rest is recent history where owners and management have to offer decent wage and benefit packages in order to attract and retain employees. The fact that you have to compare is evidence that you have gained leverage due to the union movement.

    Unions on the other hand have responded to the merit shop movement with some of the best training in the world. They also have moved away from lazy and incompetent workers to highly skilled and reliable workers. Their apprenticeship programs in the pipe and ductwork trades are very thorough and complete.The UA has about 5 or 6 categories to represent beginners through master craftsmen.These categories have made Unions once again attractive and competitive.

    Merit shops have also started group training and are putting out decent craftsmen. Abscence of jurisdictional
    disputes have allowed merit shops to cross train and utilize the same people for multiple tasks or sometimes trades.Some of these craftmen are picked off by unions.

    All things considered this is a personal choice,but please remember that the benefits you take for granted were hard fought for and the result of the union movement.If you have a progressive employer who treats his employees fair you can easily pick a merit shop.

    After 39 years in the industry on both sides of the fence I honestly could not choose for anyone.The industry is complimented by both. I know that union members who look at the whole picture would agree. As would the owners and workers of quality merit shops.
  • ScottMP
    ScottMP Member Posts: 5,884

    Thank You for one of the best responces to the Union question I have ever read.

    Ussually this is a one sided comment and your answer was well thought out.

    By the way, I am a non-union shop.


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  • big willy
    big willy Member Posts: 92
    I have worked

    Both ways. One thing about the union is if you want this to be it this is your job for life the union works out really well. I wanted to start a buisness and that is really hard when in the union. specially if you want to be the little guy. The comments about poor work ethic are true in the union sometimes but you see that non-union as well. Mabey a little less because Union guys are almost imposible to fire. they just bounce to another shop. It really burned me when I worked as a servace Tech in the union and had a journeyman that was in the department making twice what I made and I was chasing his mistakes. however if you stick around you hit that pay scale. You can make a higher hourly wage outside the union and if you find the right shop the benifits can come close. The union training is the best I have ever incountered, the guys who really go after it become some of the best techs in the industry.

    All that said my bigest problem with the union is the tactics. If you have ever had a Union rep show up on a non union job and start harrasing everyone you know what I mean. When I cut away to start the buisness The tried to take me to court and were just @#$ &*@# about it. really left a sour tast in my mouth. Also they will push non union contractors out of jobs with politics or buy paying the contractor the diferance. I have seen this first hand and it made me sick. The wors part is the money to pay for all those things comes from union employees that probably would not want those thing to happen.

    Like I said if you can stick with the job long term it hase great benifits and the pay gets preaty good. Just know your joining a agressive club and some things they do will make you sick and you will have to bite your toungue every now and then.
  • Rich L
    Rich L Member Posts: 5

    I'm proud to be a dues paying union member. The training I recieved through my five year apprentiship was fantastic. I was also very impressed by the fact that the substandard guys weren't kept around. They do get sent back to the hall but after a couple of employers send them back they don't get picked up off the bench very quick. Also in our area we have a fantastic contractor - union relationship. It's not an us vs. them attitude at all. Both sides know we need the other to be successful. Bennies? Excellent defined contrubution retirement as well as 401K, great insurances. No paid time off period, no holidays or vacation, but when I compare the wages in this area our rate of pay makes up for that and them some. I've heard some non union guys claim that if you go union you'll get laid off frequently, sent from shop to shop, treated poorly by the employers, etc. In my experience that's just not the case. Every employee is held to high standards and if they perform to those standards a shop will do everything in thier power to keep them working. We have several people in our shop that have been here for over 30 years! Some of the hardest working people you'll ever meet. The UA also started taking some steps to police itself this year. Basicly backing up many shops requirements to weed out slouches.

    I honestly don't have any experience working non-union in the trade so I can't comment on that but I do have friends that work that side and are happy with that route, and I say more power to them!
    I don't think you can make a wrong choice. The trade is a fantastic way to make a living and if you work your rear off you will be rewarded!

    Good luck, Rich L
  • Glen
    Glen Member Posts: 855
    a personal choice -

    to be sure. For me - its like breathing - now a 25 + year member. And spent several years on staff with the UA. This topic always seems to create a great debate - but on staff - I was an organizer. I cannot claim to have seen it all but - it always boiled down to respect on the job - both ways, regardless of union vs non. The monetary benefits of union scale, fair wage or other hourly considerations were always secondary. We no longer have the cotton mills that were good enough for migrant workers but not good enough for our citizens, or the 70+ hour work week at straight time, even the us vs them conflict seems to be diminishing (thankfully). For me personally I view training/education and varied work opportunity truly high on my list of job satisfaction - for you it may be different. Go with your gut. For the long term - I would stick with the UA.
  • Timco
    Timco Member Posts: 3,040

    My dad was a union iron worker for 30+ yrs, and I am very thankful he was. Not only did I always have a roof & food, he has a great retirement that pays him more than enough to ensure his financial security without being dependent on my brother or I. The union really took and is taking care of him. As a non-union sparky for 10+ years, I had more paid vacation that my union buddies, but if it were not for good investments in property and making my own retirement, I would be really worried. A retirement is FAR more important than more paid vacation or paid holidays.

    Just a guy running some pipes.
  • J.C.A._3
    J.C.A._3 Member Posts: 2,981
    As A personal aside....

    I agree with Scott.

    I haven't seen or heard a better response to that question.

    You'll never hear me complain about unions, as I was fed and clothed by the one my Dad worked for...but Rich made some great points, and I have to agree with him on crunching the numbers to find out what works for YOU!

    I work with/for Scott, and have to say that he treats his employees with respect and truth. He also gets us more training than any shop I've ever worked for. All in all, I think I'm in the right place for ME...right now. Most of the union shops are struggling to keep their work force busy right now...and we're good to go through the winter without any signs of it letting up.

    Thanks Boss! Chris
  • ScottMP
    ScottMP Member Posts: 5,884
    Thanks Chris

    I appreciate the kind words and all you do.


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