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.