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Union Question?

jeff_51 Member Posts: 545
I have worked both union and non-union and the union is very politicol. My advice is to just keep your mouth shut, or in my case, I just don't go to any of the meetings. Training is the best, that's the real reason to get in in my opinion. I have actually always made more money working non-union than union, but the bennies weren't always as good. Sometimes they were and once were better. Good pension though. We can soliciate our own work here, so don't have to go through the hiring hall. That's a big plus, all the locals should do that it my opinion. I pick the shop I want to work for, which is why I am back in the hall, that's one of the reasons why I got out in the first place. Around here, the small shops are more flexable, they have more invested in you. You are just a number in the big places. The work rules get bent alot more in the smaller places out of neccesity. Gives you more variety, but it is not a 7-3:30 job either plus you have to do the on call thing, but that is part of our buisness. At least get in till you get your liscense. You may find it is a good fit. Pension vesting is now only five years by law instead of the ten it used to be. Go down and talk to the "boys". A good plumber or fitter is always a credit to any place he is


  • LW
    LW Member Posts: 7
    Plumbers Union, Yea or Nea

    I realize that their are more owner/operators posting here than technicians, but I have recently been offered a job by a "Union" company here in N.Y. (Long Island Area), I have plenty of friends in the electrical union (I know it's not the same) and they always seem to get time out of work and I wondered if that happens in the plumbers union also.

    I have been working in plumbing and heatin for about two years now and have found it to be the most interesting and at times exciting career I have ever had. I hope to continue long enough to qualify for a licence exam and am willing to stick it out (Although at times I think it is a pipe dream considering I am in my 40s with three kids and a hefty mortgage to pay)

    The company I am working for at present, is about ot change owners and we have all been forwarned that we will be losing our jobs.

    So, I'd like to hear anything on the plumbers union, good or bad so that I can atleast seriously consider the job offer.

    Thank you for your help.
  • Leo
    Leo Member Posts: 770
    Try it

    I once worked union in another field, I have never worked union in this field. Given that at your stage of soon needing a job try it. If you don't like it they don't hold a gun to your head to stay.

    Good luck on your decision,

  • Robert O'Connor_12
    Robert O'Connor_12 Member Posts: 728

    Boy is that a loaded question. Working on commercial, industrial and even large residential projects over the years has both the ups and downs as well as pros and cons. If you have chance to get in the local union near you, do it. If you have the choice to do plumbing or fitting, take fitting (they get more work) If you have a choice as to which local to join, I'd choose won that has work (some don't). In a nut shell and trying not to be "political", Its not gonna be what you know,its WHO you know (as far as your local goes). The work is tough and conditions can be brutal at times and this will take its toll on your body, but hey your only in your forties right, it pays really good. Staying employed is the hard part. If your local has men out of work and you finish a project with say an out of state contractor, you will be laid off and made to sign a list and will have to wait your turn which sometimes can take months (trying to support a family and pay a mortgage could make this tough). On an up note, if you can stay with the same contractor or separate yourself by education and have the ability to run work you will do great and will enjoy it, I know I have. If you have been offered a job by a union contractor, are they gonna get you in the union? because thats not usually how it works. You typically apply to the union and after you get in, the contractors either ask for you (as a foreman) or hire off the list or by specialty (welder, pneumatic controls, rigger, ect..). Working out of the union will give you the experience and education that just isn't available non-union (don't everyone beat me up for this one guys because I was non-union for 10 years before I got in the local and its IMHO so there). Finally, I have two pieces of advice for you if you do get in. KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT & BE CAREFUL WHO YOU CHOOSE AS FRIENDS.

    Robert O'Connor/NJ
    United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters
    Plumbers Local Union # 24, Newark, New Jersey
  • bob young
    bob young Member Posts: 2,177
    union= top education

    AS per usual, good advice from Mr. O'Conner. bob young former member plumbers local # 1
  • Ken D.
    Ken D. Member Posts: 836

    I worked both. Non union is not as political. The union benifits and pension are good. I worked several non- union outfits and had little or no benefits ( medical or otherwise) and no pension. 401K plans were available in later years, but that meant less in your check. As a union member, At least I now have something for retirement and have a little peace of mind that I won't go bankrupt, if I get sick. Safety was always an issue for NU, although there are some union employers who are as bad. Robert's post has good advice. Heed it!
  • Anthony Menafro
    Anthony Menafro Member Posts: 197

    Once again, Robert has been there and done that. I'm always in awe of him because of his vast knowledge and experience. I've never tried to debunk his theories, but always found him to be on the money. Heed his advice and keep to yourself and do your job. You'll do fine. Robert, thanks for being a good egg.

    Anthony Menafro
  • jackchips_2
    jackchips_2 Member Posts: 1,338
    Robert gave

    an excellent reply and as someone who has worked "open shop" his entire career and whose late Dad spent his entire time in Local 4 concurs.

    His point about WHO you know is also right on. Dad had many lean years because he voted against the BA who won but he stuck it out and raised seven of us doing it and I have no complaints having gone the current route.

    A couple of questions: why would anyone buying a company warn the employees that they would be out of a job? Is all the work load and current contracts completed? Someone has to do the work unless a competing outfit is buying a competitor and closing it down but even then many, if not most, of the employess would just move over.

    Best of luck

  • jeff_51
    jeff_51 Member Posts: 545
    darn it, I got carried away

    I said something nice about the fitters.
  • Glen
    Glen Member Posts: 855

    Go for it. Next month I will have been a member for 25 years - to me it's like life insurance - both financially and philosophically. Over the years they offered the best training and opportunity for a wide range of work experience. Downside - the hiring system is onerous and fraught with cronyism, favouritism & sometimes the board moves slower than the second coming. Upside - great pay and benies, ability to make life long friends and work mates, huge oppportunity for advancement within the union movement. Downside - your job is tied to local work - you may have periods of slack time. Upside - you can pull a travel card and hit the road (did that a few times!). Being a traveller offers its own set of challenges - but it kept my family fed for years. Do I work Union now? Sadly I don't - the system is not set up well for dealing with a one man show. Does it still benefit me? Oh yes - In my travels now - the contacts I made through my career with the UA are still valid and important, plus it's still nice to visit with the brothers and sisters from time to time. Long story to say get at it - sign up and give all you can.
  • Supply House Rick
    Supply House Rick Member Posts: 1,404

    I am a former member of Local #73 Oswego NY, I left the Union to go into Sales and Sales Management in 1988. They are right about the education. I went to school Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-10:00PM for 4 long years. Layoffs are brutal to put your family through. I wanted to put myself in the position to control my income not let someone dictate what they think I'm worth. Sales is not for everybody. It has been extremely rewarding for me and I have never looked back.

    One other point, who wants to work where you have to...
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