Construction Trade Union Question
(10-16-2021, 05:23 PM)Cool Hand Luke Wrote: Hello Fisheaters,

Hope you are all well. I have had the opportunity for a second time now, to join a construction trade union.

A little background about myself. I currently am a fire sprinkler fitter for a local non-union shop in my area and they are a decent employer. I just recently took the job here a month ago after leaving a former employer doing the same kind of work. 

The current employer I am at is Employer A. When I joined their company, I had turned down the possibility of working for the trade union in my local area, because my gut was telling me not to work there, and so I passed them up.

My main reason for doing so was due to a lack of information about the union. This union is Local 669, and they are the Road Sprinkler Fitter union, which is a national union. In meetings with my potential union rep organizer, I was very clear that my main concern was that my dues would not go towards political funding. The dues do not, as they provide for full healthcare for my family, two pensions as well as education among other things. There is a voluntary PAC to which I could contribute for the sake of political lobbying, but it is not mandatory and my union rep told me that it is about 50/50 in terms of political views with the actual union members.

Is this all that I need to make a clear decision on this matter? Would I be morally culpable of the money I spent towards dues was moved in such a way as to contribute to a candidate who supported abortion? I have researched various unions and there are cases where due money, outside of the voluntary PAC, was moved around so that it looked like it was going towards dues, but in fact funded candidates who supported the labor movement, but also abortion. Where does my moral responsibility fall within this?

When I joined employer A, I took a clear look at the financials and my wife and I can make it, given the pay scale, and cost of healthcare, but it still is not a great package and would not offer much leeway for me to save for retirement. Because of this, and some other concerns I have which are some clear red flags about employer A, there may be justification in going union. However, I do not want to leave right away if I don't have to. Due to transition of life circumstances, moving states as well as marriage, I have had 4 employer changes in the past 2 years. If I go union, this will be my fifth, but hopefully last.

Lastly, with the union, there is a bit more travel, and so is it better to work at an employer who tries to get me home each night, where I would potentially be scraping by for my family and there are some clear noticeable concerns which may make it a liability to work there? Or, would it be better to join a trade union where I could make a living wage and have full healthcare and pension provided for my family?

Please help me as best as you can. I would greatly appreciate any wisdom you all have. I am sorry about the length, but it is a decision I don't believe I can make lightly.

Short answer: Do it.

Long answer:

I was recently in the same boat as you. I changed jobs after my third child was born about two years ago so I could make a better living. We were doing better without a doubt, but it still wasn't going to be enough in the long term. Not long after taking this job I had a desire to get out of manufacturing (it was the peak of Covid in NY) and go back into building trades.

It just so happened that a childhood friend was a business agent for the painters union and since I already had a few years of experience he could get me in the door without an apprenticeship. Journeyman wages, which I'm sure you're probably finding out right now is much better than non-union, coupled with the benefits the union provides has significantly transformed my life and taken my family out of poverty in NY and into the sweet life in Florida within a years time.

Joining my union has hands down been the best career decision I've ever made. I share your concerns about union politics, though there are workarounds and the membership is often split just as equally as the general population is along partisan lines. If you're in building trades like I am though, just know that they tend to lean more to the right overall compared to non building trade unions.

I hope you take up the offer and good luck with your future endeavors!

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RE: Construction Trade Union Question - by seanipie - 10-17-2021, 10:34 PM

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