First off I'm going to say, it's what you make it out to be. I'm getting ready to go to work for a Residential/Light Commercial union shop. This shop's signatory to the NSMA, which disregards the A, B & C card classifications of our union local and instead it bases off of the Journeyman (A Card). An C Card Service Tech which is our local classification for R/LC makes about $23/Hr. on the check. A Tradesman 3 under the NSMA which is also for R/LC makes about $31/Hr. I prefer union, but not only union, union using the NSMA!
If you're under the employ of a non-union shop and they're taking good care of you, then you better be a lifer. Once you and that shop seperate say good bye to your health & welfare. Even if you have $100,000 in your retirement plan, you probably put $80,000 of it in yourself! What's the point of matching your contributions up to $1/Hr., if you're the one putting in $4/Hr. of your wage?! Even my future shop is going to be putting in $4.50/Hr. for me. At 40 hrs for 50 wks, that's $9,000 none of which will come out of my wage!! When deciding whether union or non-union, it comes down to economics, but a lot of you seem to have less mathematical skills than my youngest child.