Reply To: Union plumbers

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Avatar photoSylvanLMP

    Having gone through the 5 year apprenticeship training years ago I find the U/A training the tops in the industry.

    Having both a union and non union shop I find I made more money on jobbing and alterations with Non union folks.

    Some of the union employees knew the union rules like the back of their hand BUT had little self motivation as far as actually keeping abreast of their trade after they received their journeymen card.

    The U/A constantly offers upgrading of skills with all types of welding, drafting, lead burning and lead wiping (lead pipe is great on acid systems) and code interpretation.

    Now when I went to school it was 2 nights a week for 4 hours per night for 5 years .

    Today some of the apprenticeship programs have been reduced to 4 years and the “classes” are during the day with the contractors picking up the employees salary 100% even for this training.

    With the lousy materials being used like plastic pipe and band iron for hangers the new “training” can be taught strictly OJT it isn’t as critical using employees like years ago where caulking and welding and rolling your own beads on Pyrex piping were the normal.

    When I did high rise buildings 47+ stories high withH bell and spigot CI we needed craftmen and apprentices to be the mules on the job.

    Almost every journeyman was expected to be qualified enough to be handed a set of plans and to be able to run a job no matter how big it was and also double check the actual fixture units involved with suds pressure zones etc.

    Today with no hub cast Iron and copper being soldered instead of brazed the jobs are more like factory work with one man only doing one aspect and they consider themselves “specialists”

    The union apprentice knows NOTHING WHAT SO EVER about plumbing and must work under the journeyman plumber BUT once you have a plumber used to having a person cleaning up after them and carrying the tools these mechanics sometimes become pre Madonna’s.

    I remember when I was given “mechanic pay” as a 3rd year apprentice how it caused problems with the other mechanics, as the union frowns on passing seniority when it comes to lay offs and this could be a problem when you decide to fire someone (check it out).

    The union apprenticeship never bothered teaching “repair” plumbing as this was looked down upon compared to the hospital and other clean work we did.

    The only good thing about the unions is the training the journeyman CAN GET if they want and the fact if you need employees you can call the union hall and hopefully get some decent mechanic.

    You had better check with the union about the hidden benefits that in my case was almost equaled the hourly rate I was getting like annuity, safety gear, training deductions, paying an employee as a shop steward, only allowing one helper for every 5 mechanics, and the hourly rate over 35 hours.

    In the late 60’s we were getting double time for anything over 35 hours and triple time for Sunday.

    Most decent union mechanics will NOT Work just for union scale ($1 per HR above scale is the minimum normal)

    My superintendent (over the foremen) of the shop I had to buy him a ford LTD to keep him “happy” and this was for his personal use .

    Depending on the type of work your doing and the area your working in would have a lot do do with going union or non union.

    Find out if you can have a duel shop union and non union or if you can legally own both as I found some jobs the union guys far excelled the non union folks and visa versa. Good luck.

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