Just a couple comments. I'm not UA. In fact, I'm not even a mechanic or fitter. Currently, technically, I'm an electrician as far as work classification goes around here. Actually, a low voltage (controls/automation) electrician. To make it worse, I'm in that hazy ground. Both union ... and management. A union guy holding down a project manager/engineering job.
Originally posted by Dowadudda
Keep adding things here you guys. This is so important to our trade and to our members here and in the UA. Keep it above the belt as well. But keep talking. I invite anyone to add to this. Tell me and the rest of us where you benefited. Many young guys are reading this, many in the middle guys are reading this. It's incredibly important to keep this conversation going..
Anyway, been following this thread. Some truth is spoken by both sides, IMHO.
I have in fact seen some of those fat, lazy, no-account union types. Here and there over the years. I'm 55. And have lived/worked in a number of cities and states.
Seems to depend a lot on state ... and specifically WHICH local. They tend to not be all the same. Some are good, some are just okay, some pretty much suck and fit all the bad things said.
Having said that. In recent years, in Minnesota at least, I don't see any trade unions which have such bad stereotypes. TRADE unions. Not speaking about UAW, government employee unions, etc. And I'm pretty familiar with most of the common trade unions. Electricians, fitters, plumbers, etc.
Not to say there aren't bad, or questionable members of the trade unions. Wanna find some? Just go to the hall and check the hiring bench. Plenty sitting there. There are good ones sitting there, too. But they won't be sitting there long. The bad ones, OTOH, have a long wait. Will occassionally disappear from the bench due to a short term hire. But they'll be back on the bench soon.
I deal mostly with the above 3 trades I listed. And locally, in all 3 cases (electricians, fitters, plumbers)the unions and their members push really hard the concept of an honest, HARD days work for your money. Your best possible work on every job. Continuing education. Working smarter. And, in short, giving your employer your very best effort.
Personlly, to me, it only makes sense. Employer has to make money and get new business ... so he can pay me and those like me. Not to mention, fact is, I take pride in my work and in doing it a little better than the last time or the next guy. And I happen to like being able to look customer in the eye and know I earned his money and that he or she got good value for it.
And I have no tolerance for hacks, incompetents, or lairs and cheaters. Not folks I want to work with or an enviornment I care to live in.
In any event. As concerns the comments made about fat, lazy, union workers. <Shrug> Maybe elsewhere. But I don't work with or around such. Sent a kid back to the bench the other day (member of my own union). For a while I tried talking to him, but it did no good. He just couldn't seem to be to work on time, tended to slack off if not watched every moment ... and neither I nor the project foreman had time to watch him every moment ... nor the inclination. New hire, off the bench. I'd gotten two. Kept the other guy. A go getter. On time, works like a fiend, asks lots of questions and wants to learn more. Kept him. Counseled other kid on his problems, warned him he needed to change, and sent him away.
No different with the pipefitters I work with. Senior journeyman who works for me, a while back let me know that another journeyman, new to our company, wasn't working out. Guy was slow, too many and too long on the breaks, and he was taking shortcuts in methods that increased chances that we'd have a warrantied failure in the future. Plus, his workmanship in general simply looked sloppy and unprofessional.
This as not backstabbing. Guy saying this is the senior fitter, on my team. Needs and wants help. Utterly trustable. But he doesn't want sloppy and inadequate work associated with any job he's on and responsible for. And he sure didn't like the fact others noticed this fellow not only did sloppy work, but seemed to be slacking off a lot, joking and smoking, etc ... when he should be working. Especially not good when customer's rep is walking around looking. He sees something like that, he isn't gonna give my senior journeyman much respect and trust. Wasn't easy for my fitter. He looked uncomfortable, didn't want to cut the other guy. Guy did need work. But my fitter sure didn't want him on his jobs. I got his point which he kinda worked around without saying outright. And I told him I'd take care of it. My union has scale, but at top of the chain we negotiate for extra, over scale. I get over scale. One of the reasons is that it's my job to play the bad guy. Which I did. I sent guy back to the bench.
I hate that. But more than I hate firing someone,I hate having someone on the team who won't pull his own weight and do a good job. I can not and will not tolerate someone who makes the rest of us look bad. We're professional, and proud of it.
As to the rest of the argument. I know non-union types who're very, very good. And non-union shops who're very, very good. And I know union shops which aren't so good.
Problem is, in my observation and experience, on average ... not in all cases but on average ... in my observation the union shops tend to be better in their competency, professionalism, and knowledge.
As to pay and benefits. I know a bunch of non-union types. Most, not all, tell me they make less. Bennies for the most part are about the same. Except as concerns retirement and continuing education. Which they tell me pretty much sucks in comparison.
Know a couple non-union types who make a lot more than union scale. But both these guys are men at the top of their game. Union or non-union, they will always get more pay. And are worth every penny. Yah know the type. Damned sharp. However, they are exceptions as versus the rule.
Maybe locals elsewhere aren't so good. Seen some in the past. Not an expert on such things. But these days, in Minnesota, the trade unions in my observation are doing a hard press to work cooperatively with employers and provide the best tradesmen they can. And good value for their money.
<Shrug> Maybe it's different elsewhere. Wouldn't know. Do know, that at least on the jobs I work, around here, the union fitters, plumbers, and electricians don't put up with slackers and sloppy or incompetent workers. As a project manager, I'll hear about such. The good guys drop me hints. As they don't want the fellow's lacks to reflect upon their work. So, and it's my job, I either counsel the guy to fix his problems. Or, if that fails, I find a way to send him away.
A fair days work for a fair days pay. That is the message I received growing up in a union home and the same message I heard as I served my 5 year UA steamfitters apprenticeship. In this area if you don't perform you don't work...Union or not if you don't perform the market place will run you out of the business. I will say this for being union, together we, as union members constitute a force that is much more powerful than an individual. With this strength we have been able to negoiate safer working conditions, premium wages, health insurance and a pension that will see us through our retirement. And our work ethic, training and ability does the talking for us, we don't have to nell down or back up to get our pay check. The union also promotes the training of the members and provides teachers and books and a facility to meet for learning. I read where someone said something about dues and the cost of membership, this training is where a large amount of the money goes, money I feel is well spent. Unions are not perfect and never will be but when you are a member of a good union such as the UA it is great to know you have over a quarter of a million brothers and sisters with you.
The rate up here is $38.36hr in the envelope!!
638B is out on strike down here since the new contract came out 7/1/04 national agreements can't go out(TRANE,YORK,McQUAY,CARRIER some other larger service groups also on the national)and or take others work who are out.how does your overtime work after a days work,and on the weekends.we have A teams splitting up doing B work for your rate in some of the OEMs offices.
There is no "B" rate up here ! There NEVER will be!! The national tried to jam that down our throat about 5yrs ago, that weasel Tom House tried to get us to go along with that MSCA agreement , we almost walked away from the UA over it .
The is only one rate for fitters and refrigeration people, although reefers should get more$$ and often times do we try and stick together . We are not one of the UA favorite locals. By that I mean we are pretty independent , we have our own pension, health care annuity etc. That MSCA agreement is a real shaft job for journeymen techs. JMHO
thats tight then,back in late 97' the B business agents were voted out and we had the "A" BA cover us since.the B guys down here are always cutting deals with their bosses away from the union and then ***** the union has no power..i wish we were as tight as the A fitters are but the hvac owners would loose control from raises,to how OT is written by techs.
I've bit my lip long enough on this thread, not wanting to really say much, but i am as disappointed in the union in the past few years as i have ever been. We have had one raise on our check in the last 6 years, a total of .76 cents. The rest of the $5.00 or so going to Health and welfare. Most recently $1.30 that was supposed to go to the check, also went to H&W.
We did get our deductible reduced from 1000 down to 500, as if that matters much. Most of our pipefitters are sitting the bench, without benie's, due to the help of George Bush. To suggest that these guy's are lazy or slacker's defies imagination, and those that would tout them as being so should spend some time there, and deny their own families the security of a weekly paycheck.
It was suggested that a temporary assesment be made to help these guy's with their non-working dues, I favored this but it was voted down. The local could make a better effort to put these guy's to work by pressuring the out of town contractor's to use our guy's and quit giving out permits like water.
There has been a change of administration at the local, and things are getting better in some area's, but the main issue's are still present at every meeting, like the smell of a dead polecat. The mention of a phone call to the higher level, gives the BA's a rash. They are way to receptive to the contractors needs and not of the rank and file. The only issue they ever want to discuss is organizing the non-union shops. I tend to favor organizing our own membership first. JMHO.
Where in the world can you make money like that with no overtime? Certainly not here in Southwest Ohio. Good grief! I've been putting in 50-60 hrs. a week since May
and this isn't an especially hot summer. No OT, sounds like nirvana to me . . .
Maxster, the problems with MTB 638 have always been that we've had poor representation on the Business Agent front since before I can remember. The mechanics in NY are also their own worst enemies. They never go to scheduled meetings and have no idea what it's all about or what's going on. I think the recent contract was turned down by 168 members and those few members had the ability to call a work stoppage. There are thousands of MTB 638 members and where were they when the votes were counted. It will never change.
The National Association allows the owners to sign an interim agreement thus allowing their employees to work strike or no strike. I was in Manhattan on Thursday and Friday and I saw trucks from every big shop still out there working. If we could get autonomy from the A local things possibly would change but being a realist I know that will never happen. I'm a self employed member now and unfortunately have no say in all this but I was a shop steward fo 20 years and it was very frustrating to say the least. Keep the faith.
companys like brazil or diamond that pay 50 an hour have there catches. they only pay you ticket time, which means no travel time and you may have to work longer than 1 hour to get 1 hour of ticket time. if you have to drive to a supply house to get a part this is not ticket time. have you ever seen the prices that these commission companys charge I would rather make less and not go to hell. i know many people who worked for brazil and they say the best thing to do is quit companys like this... i tried it and didnt like it.. it is a feast or famon deal...good luck
If it is an item that you should have on the truck and it's not because the warehouse man didn't have what you needed in the warehouse to stock the truck they will usually bring it out to you. If it is something that would be impractical to stock on the truck, or what not, there is usually always a task number you can use to add the time needed even for travel time.
Yes they pay per billable hour, they use a national average to arrive at the time needed to complete the task. If the task is always being completed light on hours they will adjust it and they will also adjust the time if the task is always being beat. If your competent and quick you will make more than someone that has little experience, so it's a self adjusting scale. The guy with 10 years in the trade will almost always make more than the guy with only 2 years of experience. So the new guy may be averaging 30 bucks an hour and the old guy may be making 60 or 70 per hour. The guy that completes his job first is back in the rotation for a new call, so again experience is rewarded.
I don't remember if I posted this or not here but I actually started in the trades working union, I've worked piece work, billable hours, hourly, salary, commission, and combinations of them all together at one time or another. I've also paid out on them all with my own companies with the exception of union scale in a union shop. I think I did post, I will be looking into the union for a new shop out of state probably after the first of the year.
As an employee of all the ways I've worked, I've liked billable hours the best, but I was at the top of my game and I always beat my times.
As in employer I've been beat up pretty good paying hourly, the clock is ticking your guy isn't answering the radio and then you find out later he was getting a nooner from his girlfriend on your time and going home to the wife after work. So billable hours also helps to protect the employer.
For your money the one of the best places to live for wages versus cost of living is Omaha. Pipefitter scale is $28
sheet metal service tech $26.50. Nice city, bad weather
$70 per hour? Seeing as how most companies bill out at about $65-$75 per hour in So Cal to the customers, that means that with expenses you've got to bill out at at least $110 per hour to see a profit. You know Mike Diamond and George Brazil have to pay a HUGE amount of money to advertise. TV and full page color ad in all phone books, so tack on another $20 per hour. You've got to be doing something crooked to be billing out at about twice the rate of everyone else.
One of my buddies who works at a parts house found a folder left by one of THOSE guys and looked inside to find out who it belonged to. After seeing the invoices inside he made a few copies and showed them to me. On an invoice for a compressor changeout, the only part listed in his confidential parts used section was one 10-370 capacitor. That job cost the customer $350. It's people like that who give the rest of us honest people in the industry a bad name.