Union plumbers

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    • #273664
      Avatar photoAnonymous

        I operate a small plumbing company.

        We have few employees, lots of work, and lots of pride. I really love plumbing, I’ve had a plumbing contracter license for almost 10 years.

        I am interested in becoming a Union shop. I would appreciate input both pro and con on this topic.

        Thanks! Fred/Safe-Flow Plumbing

      • #288250
        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.

        • #288251
          Avatar photowpc

            If you could talk to an owner of a union shop & see what the pros & cons are. In the union shop I am sure you will find some bad apples, but I have seen many bad apples in the non union sector. Plumbing is no different than any other type of occupation.

          • #288252
            Avatar photoSylvanLMP

              Great idea asking a union contractor. The only thing is it is much easier to can a non union lazy worker then a union guy

            • #288253
              Avatar photobungie

                Interesting conversasion. Here, compulsary union membership is illegal. Doesnt quite work that way in the real world, but the idea is good.
                Same there ??

              • #288254
                Avatar photofourth year

                  At what point does the “union apprentice who knows nothing about plumbing and must work under a journeyman” suddenly become annointed with knowledge, (or a journeyman card), and suddenly become an oracle of great knowledge? I always thought it was a gradual process, but apparently that is not how it works.At least it appears not to be the case in New York City. Maybe it’s the water.

                • #288255
                  Avatar photowpc

                    On your concerns on I find PM MAGAZINE a good source of reference for many topics you can find this at http://WWW.PMmag.com . They are pretty neutral on this subject.

                  • #288256
                    Avatar photosafe-flow plumbing

                      Thanks for everyone’s input. It was pleasant to see no bickering on a topic that can be volitile.

                      One of my objectives is to find quality health insurance. Union benefits are often excellant; that is my chief interest in the plumbing union.

                      My location is Indiana, USA. Is anyone aware of a Group health plan that my company may be eligible for?

                      Thanks again for your help.

                    • #288257
                      Avatar photoTheLocalPlumber

                        For information on health insurance, start with your workmens comp carrier.
                        Good Luck,
                        The Local Plumber
                        Tustin, California http://www.TheLocalPlumber.com

                      • #288258
                        Avatar photosafe-flow plumbing

                          Thanks for the advice. My workman’s comp. carrier does not have what I am looking for.

                          I am hoping to find a group insurance program that my company can particapate in.

                          Anybody have any recommendations?

                          Thanks! Fred/Safe-Flow, Inc.

                        • #288259
                          Avatar photoKathy

                            For info on group insurance, check with your local Small Business Administration in your state. They have a list on insruance brokers (who sell insurance for more than 1 company). These people can give you a number of options. I recently took a course offered by the SBA & they told us that you only need 2 people to be considered a group for medical insurance. This might be an Illinois law, or it might be a national law. Check with the SBA in your area. Good luck!

                          • #288260
                            Avatar photosafe-flow plumbing

                              Thanks Kathy for your help.

                              Let me be more specific. I am looking for an existing large group health plan that I can join.

                              My thinking is a small group can be cancelled or the rates can be increased beyond your means. I feel that my best bet is joining a trade association of some type. The insurance co. will treat the group as a valued asset and all insured will be better off.

                              If anyone knows of such a group PLEASE respond.


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