1. Master Plumber 101

    Master Plumber 101 In the Trades

    Messages:
    268
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    This is a topic that always facinated me. It certainly can relate one way or another to everyone who visits this site. I will come out and say I'm a proud union brother who always weighs the pros and the cons, but by far I think the pros out weigh the cons. I would like anyone being a tradesman,contractor,homeowner, etc. to please post on this subject and continue to discuss and debate.
  2. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    Look for..the union label:D

    unions are good things, or can be. We sort of have one in NH, not a lot of members though, probably because there's not a whole lot of city or state plumbing jobs around. I know quite a lot of Mass. union plumbers that do pretty well on the pay and beni scale though.
  3. Hrmmmmm.....


    Here's what the union did for me:



    Put me in a situation where I was on a "bench" being new with no way of anyone knowing my potential.....other than that I was a licensed journeyman plumber in two states.

    In new construction, first jobs were 34 miles away. Like going to prison camps. Getting into the mix I find out how quick the whole thing is a "good ole boys" club to the hilt.


    If you're a brown-noser and do more than you're expected, you gotta job. You're hungry. You want a cookie. All because you got bills and you know the alternative is sitting on the bench because 240 other plumbers with your credentials want your job, and YOU are not special to anyone.

    IF you choose to follow the rule of 20 degrees or below to refuse work on any job because it's inscribed in the rules of the union for the reasons of hazardous extreme climate? You'll find that the bench will be a part of your *** because just because it's in the rules, doesn't mean you can use it to your advantage. Too many ignore the clause and continue to work, because they know they'll lose their job.

    Got a health problem and you need to take off more than a couple days? Plan on getting removed and put back on the bench. Short of your family dying in a horrible accident or contracting cancer, they don't care, literally. You are just number to a name.

    If you're willing to put your time in to be vested, now they got you hook and sinker and "Well I can't quit now because the union owns me" attitude.

    Think of how much money goes into that local union fund, then the national one. Remember that they, not you dictate when you pull that money out, expecting you to be waiting for that money when you reach that predetermined age. Trust me; lawyers discussed with the top brass when a good age would be for the majority to either take an early withdrawal and lose a substantial percentage of YOUR money due to hardship or medical reasons........or simply die of old age.

    Why, on earth do I need someone to take my money weekly, then give it back to me later in life? Can't I do that on my own?

    Next,

    Carrot on the string offering that substantially higher wage earning bracket than the non-union worker to give emphasis to a larger base salary. In 1998 @ $24.50 for new construction, 40 and out the door and no overtime, Take home pay for me was $500-$550 a week. Effing pathetic in my opinion. You cannot have any kind of life on 2 grand take home pay. Marginal at best and that hourly wage is a send off that sounds good, just doesn't equate. Purposely a vacation fund of $80 a week was pulled from my checks, couldn't take out that exact money unless it was matured at 60 days............??? It's my money! Why do you need my money for 60 days when I earned it???

    To go on,

    Wanna know what happens when an employer puts an employee in a bad situation to get hurt, and you know that OSHA would be interested in getting involved?

    NOTHING, the union won't hold still for a good ***-reaming just because you got one, can't have that.......wouldn't be prudent. Talk about the largest ferris wheel with you on top and thinking the ride stops whenever you want to get off....it doesn't.


    I started off in the union following that sheep following the flock attitude that "I'm in the top of my career being a union plumber, can't go no higher" Yeah right, let me drink the kool-aid and enjoy the sleeping pill agent they slipped in it.

    I was doing good till I got hurt, my employer put me in a bad situation and left me holding the bag of my future without ANY ability to work for any plumber in a 3 state area due to a bad back......one that keeps me from even flipping burgers at McDonald's because I cannot consistently stand on the concrete floors for long periods of time.

    The disrespectful ending to my career with the union refusing to employ me, the local plumbers not wanting to invest in me forced me to not lay down but to stand up for what I believe was an injury to my body, not my brain and gave me the intiative to do for myself when others can't.

    An inspirational story of having nothing to having something. Security found by my own doings. A successful NON-UNION PLUMBING COMPANY that stands in the ranks of being well known as reputable and reliable, trustworthy.

    It's worth the sometimes gut-sickening pain every day to come home and provide what a so called "body" of employment had no interest in providing for me. Even without that career changing injury I had, there's no way I could of went the distance with the union. It's a politics game that if you don't acknowledge it's there, you'll be the one called a "traveller" or "bench-warmer" because you can't stand up for yourself in the union and not take a few hits for doing so.

    It's their game and not yours so don't ever get comfortable where you're at in that scenario. Somebody or bad luck health will show how a good thing can turn upside down and change it all in a matter of a day.


    I've been in 3 different unions in my working life, all 3 sucked to no end. Two of the three had a strike over pennies and fund cutting. What a joke.

    I for one am above it all and I hope anyone who reads my slanted wit that someday when you realize what I typed above is entirely true, you'll grow some between your legs and do what I did............make it all disappear and do for yourself.

    The rewards in doing so is phenomenal.
  4. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Unions...I no longer use them for water heaters...
  5. firefly

    firefly Junior Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    long island
    Your statement is contradictory:

    "Take home pay for me was $500-$550 a week. Effing pathetic in my opinion. You cannot have any kind of life on 2 grand take home pay"

    Your take home was 500-550 or 2,000?
  6. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    40 hrs X 24.50 = $980.00 - deductions for what ever = 500-550 /week I believe is what he is saying.
  7. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I consider unions to be parasitic overhead.
    I'll keep them out of my back pocket.

    Years ago I worked in management at a company that was a union shop.
    The company through some bad decisions by the owner was going down the tubes.
    There was a cash flow crunch going on and paychecks were late in coming.
    The choice was basically live with it to the bitter end and accept it or, move on to a lower paying situation.
    One of the guys decided to complain to the union about the late checks.
    The union bigwigs came in for a Pow-Wow with the boss and I was in the next office were I listened in at the direction of the guys...
    The union officials went in there and jacked the owner up hard about late payments to the union...
    But, not one word was said about paying the guys on time...

    They look out for themselves and do not look out for their members.
    I've got enough govement parasites in my life!
    Who needs them at work too!
  8. Master Plumber 101

    Master Plumber 101 In the Trades

    Messages:
    268
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Let's not forget that unions were the backbone of our country. Without the members who stood up for working conditions and fair pay we probably would not have that today. Think of your 40 hr work week or overtime after 40hrs although if your UNION it's overtime after 8hrs and on holidays double time, sat at overtime and sun at double time. Also union shops also keep it competitive for the non union guys pay, without unions non union plumbers would probably not get the pay they do, no matter how good they are. If you get hurt on a job contractors, union or not should not discriminate to there employees and lay them off. If that happens to you, I can only assume the employer feels you not much value to them that's union or not. The other truth is every employer would probably not want to be union because they would not be obligated to give you a decient wage. And they could keep there employee count down and not have to pay you health insurance. To attract plumbers they would have to provide something, but minimal at best. My employer pays per hour for my benies. That's the way it should be, WE HAVE A SKILL PEOPLE, YOU SHOULD START GETTING PAID WHAT YOUR WORTH.(APPLIES TO LICENSED JOURNEYMAN ONLY) Red wood don't forget it was your EMPLOYER WHO SCREWED YOU NOT THE UNION, the outcome with the employer would have been the same. The union can talk tough, but legally if the company files for bankruptcy what can they do?
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2008
  9. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I hate to burst your bubble but lets just say I manage to do right around that figure without the parasitic overhead!

    As far as who screwed who I'll place the blame equally. My point is when the union member called upon the union to take care of a problem the union made sure that they took care of themselves before the member. Some brotherhood!
  10. Master Plumber 101

    Master Plumber 101 In the Trades

    Messages:
    268
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    If the employer is not taking care of it's employee's what can the union do for you? The union is there to make sure you get fair pay and have good working conditions. It's always up to the member to site these problems as they arise, in your case was this done early enough?If you make the same amount as I statated,do you get a pension and health insurance besides? The Unions are not a cancer to the work place, only to the employers who wish to take advantage of there employees. I'm not arguing with anyone I just want convey my opinion and I aprietiate yours. KEEP POSTING!!!!!
  11. patrick88

    patrick88 Plumber

    Messages:
    836
    Location:
    Webster Ma.
    I worked in a union shop once. Will never again. I had some fat lazy slob working with me. He complained about everything. Was real slow to do his work and made my life hell. I realized fast that unions helped people that don't want to work. I would get screamed at for the lazy guy being so slow. I finally walked off the job and got better work.
    That was not a Plumbers union it was a box factory I worked in.

    I know unions helped this country and gave this country a lot, but if you don't like the work conditions leave.
  12. Master Plumber 101

    Master Plumber 101 In the Trades

    Messages:
    268
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    If someone does not like the work conditions leave? We may as well operate like China. Because you worked with a fat lazy slob does not represent all Union membership. The fact is this, if a worker is not good in a union shop they will be laid off like anyone else. In the trades union you sit on the bench, if your ambitious enough you hunt down another Union shop and sell yourself to them and if they like you go to your B.A. and tell him/her your situation, they are usually good on working with you. If your in another type of union I can't speak about that because I'm only involved with the trades union.


    UNITED WE STAND DIVIDED WE FALL!!!!

    In the midwest they have a group refered to as ABC. It's set up for contractors to organize. If they can why can't we?



  13. Roughly 2-2500 take home pay a month. Realistically that boat doesn't float in today's way of wage earning. Poverty wages at best. And people wonder why they all crowd into one house for living reasons to save on the bills...




    The MAJORITY of businesses in the United States are Non-Union. There is more waste in a union shop than ever in a non-union.

    3 watch 1 works...that's what I recall. A man with 20 more credentials than another doesn't even get wage benefit for his ability to multi-task, create a personal wealth? Once you hit a scheduled point in those shops, eeeeeeeeeeverybody makes the same and some pull their weight, others do the bare minimum which makes it difficult to work at achieving a positive work attitude when somebody next to you is making the same, but brings home more because he's got 3 more kids than you.

    Remember, it's the water down theory in a union; keeps you learning new stuff all the time, putting you in different scenarios or "unknown" territories because this keeps you from getting an edge. Most times you can't do what you want to do.....you're put where they need you.

    Wanna work and can't travel? You can be screwed quite quickly with that attitude. Now you're imposing stipulations to the place that employs you.


    When you're in the union, you have blinders on and can't see outside of that focus. I was there, numerous times and didn't like to listen to others, complaining about why they are NOT in the union anymore.


    I saw a guy that was a top dog foreman that was making $2 more than anyone else for being a supervisor, could handle the most difficult tasks (from the ground up on hospitals) and had a slight heart attack in the results of stress) and had to remove himself from the position.


    They was so pissed at this guy that they refused to employ him, had him sit on the bench indefinitely. He wanted a less stress job and they wanted all or nothing.

    Starved him right out of the union by doing skip-overs on the bench. Guy had a family of 5 and was a great worker until luck ran out.

    Some of the best non-union companies prove that another intermediate association is not required to produce a comfortable and reliable reputation both in staffing and end product reliability.

    Toyota :p
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2008
  14. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    I never belonged to the plumbers union but when I started teaching I joined the teachers union and I'm damn glad I did.
  15. Master Plumber 101

    Master Plumber 101 In the Trades

    Messages:
    268
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    3 watch one works, I don't think so. You have to pull your own weight where ever you work, union or not. Company's are in bussiness to make money and if there is an employee not being productive he/she will be gone. It's clear most who respond do not have a clear perspective on unions. All I hear are how the workers are lazy and complain to much or other people pick up slack for others. Unions are the way to go.
  16. 99k

    99k Radon Contractor and Water Treatment

    Messages:
    460
    Location:
    Fairfield Co.,Connecticut
    I believe unions are good for some but not for others. If you have a personality of needing security and want that feeling of a "safety net", then unions are probably for you. I was in two unions when I was a teenager ... both wanted dues and an initiation fee, however, I felt I did not get anything out of it. One union was for a grocery store and all I received was minimum wage! If you are a "go-getter" (I happen to be an owner / operator) then I feel unions have nothing to offer you. I can make a lot more money, pick and choose the jobs I want, and have more freedom. It is all about your perpective.
  17. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I believe this sums up the difference in "working conditions" between the union jobsite and the non-union jobsite...

    Union every one occupied...:eek: Non-Union unoccupied...:cool:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2008
  18. Herk

    Herk Plumber

    Messages:
    547
    Location:
    S.E. Idaho
    We see several aspects of unions on this thread: first, we see that there are some lazy people who coast all day long without working yet can't be fired because they're union members; second, we see that some people had problems with getting hurt or getting sick and the union did not stand up for them; third, we see some people standing behind the union.

    It's hard to get a clear picture of unions from these disparate points of view. But I cannot give up the idea that unions were and are both necessary and good. Everyone who was in a union has not had a bad life - on the contrary, most of them had far richer lives than they would have had otherwise. And the unions did not only benefit them, it was good for those who were not union because non-union contractors did not want to lose their labor to the union contractors. It raised their wages, too. And it set a higher standard for wages in general.

    Now that most unions have been busted we see a different picture: the cost of everything is going up, but the wages are not going up. Breaking the unions is a step to lowering not only the cost of labor, but the quality of the workers. Union workers have training and safety rules that non-union workers do not benefit from.

    My own story is that I started in the union and received their training but did not stay with them. In violation of their apprenticeship contract they could not keep me working. I also saw the favoritism that has been mentioned, with some (say the business agent's son) getting more work than others.

    But overall, I benefited from my time in the union. True, much of it is political, but maybe it doesn't have to be. When the wealth of the economy is being shifted from the middle class to the upper class we need unions more than ever. When Pinochet overthrew the Chilean government, U.S. companies sponsored his terror campaign because they knew that he would break the unions and lower the cost of manufacturing. Union leaders were paraded around the factories and then tortured and shot. Ford's green Falcons became the symbol of disappearing citizens and eventually between 100,000 and 150,000 wound up in mass graves.

    Ford, Chevy, ITT, et al, do not want you to be union. The CEO's, however, want to steal as much money from the failing companies as they can before they go belly up. Wal-Mart, the largest corporation in the U.S., refuses to allow unionizing. Their workers become a burden in every community where there's a Wal-Mart. They cannot afford health care, they live in substandard housing, and they are often on government dole to feed their children.

    All these things must be kept in perspective when considering the worth of unions. When my father retired, he had his union pension as well as Social Security and together he lived reasonably well and paid his bills. I got money from the union to help take care of his funeral. I only wish I could give something like that to my daughter when my time comes.

    Although Reagan's so called 'trickle-down economics' never worked, it is true that a rising tide can lift all boats - and unions can improve the lives of all working people in a country. So even if you don't belong to a union, it might be wise to consider that we've all been helped toward the American Dream by collective bargaining. Alone, we have little voice.
  19. Master Plumber 101

    Master Plumber 101 In the Trades

    Messages:
    268
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Kudos to Herk, he sumed up everything perfect.:D
  20. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,626
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    unions

    I will not describe my experiences with unions. But do you understand why the auto manufacturers and steel companies are on the ropes. During the good years they acceded to every union demand as far as wages, vacation, retirement accounts, etc., because they just rolled them into the cost of the vehicle and did not want a strike which would have delayed production. NOW those perks add about $1,500.00 to the cost of each car without doing anything to improve the quality of the vehicle, and they are not going to go away. Unions do encourage the least common denominator because they, (except for sports unions which are a joke for using the term union), establish the pay scale and everyone gets the same regardless of their ability or input. The union hiring halls are full of members who are waiting for the next "cushy" job where they can sign in in the morning and then find a hole to hide out most of the day. As the superintendant of a new Republic Steel rolling mill griped one day. "I see guys going from the North to the South with buckets of grout, and I see guys going from the South to the North with buckets of grout. It looks like a circus parade. Why aren't they using the grout where they came from."
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