Union V.s. Non Union? - Excavation & Site Work - Contractor Talk

Union V.s. Non Union?

 
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Old 12-28-2015, 11:01 PM   #1
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Union V.s. Non Union?


I guess a lot depends on location, finding a good crew, work availibility, ect. But who owns and runs a union company? If you do or dont, what made your decision? There's a lot of advantages to go union but it seems to come with a very high price tag, not sure if it's worth it or not. Any input?
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Old 12-28-2015, 11:06 PM   #2
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Re: Union V.s. Non Union?


What advantages do you see to being union?

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Old 12-28-2015, 11:11 PM   #3
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Re: Union V.s. Non Union?


Can get operators/laborers when you need them and if the work dries uo for a few months you can lay them off and not worry about finding new hires, just call the union and get workers. I also see the possibility of bidding on more work, but limits me to union work as the non union jobs go for less as you're not paying fringe benefits, but if you're union it would be harder to compete. I see that trained employees are readily availible.

The problems I see is I'm a small business, it's a ton more paperwork for me, union guys seem pretty lazy with the encounters I've had. I see a lot of hassle for a lot of good benefits, but not sure what is the best route for the future.
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Old 12-28-2015, 11:19 PM   #4
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Re: Union V.s. Non Union?


Oh!!! To be a bum working off the tit just ain't up my alley ..... I think I'll just stay self employed...


Good money living off the tit tho !!! Great retirement!!!
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Old 12-28-2015, 11:22 PM   #5
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Re: Union V.s. Non Union?


What's retirement?? Is that when you sell out and still work for people? Haha. The self employed life is the one I chose but just trying to make the best of it.
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Old 12-28-2015, 11:23 PM   #6
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Re: Union V.s. Non Union?


A friend is a small union excavation and concrete contractor. He does both government and private work, all union, all prevailing wage, even small residential jobs. He's had the same 5 or 6 union guys working for him for about 15 years; in exchange for his loyalty to them through some lean times, they provide him with incredible quality and productivity, and he is able to bid competitively on non-union builds.

I can't fault him for being union and proud of it.
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Old 12-29-2015, 12:02 AM   #7
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Re: Union V.s. Non Union?


It wasn't easier to be a Union Carpenter here in Southern Cal. In fact it was bust ass work. When we walked, it was a run walk. The Union payed close to 36 an hour 15 years ago, with full bennies. Their was always someone willing to take your job. They made damn sure you knew that too.

With that said, they took care of us, lunch tables and chairs, a full time hot truck that never left the sight, one guys only job was to keep coolers full of ice and gatorade. Hell there was an ice maker on site. We also did calisthenics and stretching exercises with the saftey Foreman every morning. Not to mention because they never shut down the site, there was 24 hour around the clock crews. Working nights and weekends paid big bucks.

Last edited by Calidecks; 12-29-2015 at 12:14 AM.
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Old 12-29-2015, 12:16 AM   #8
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Re: Union V.s. Non Union?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Californiadecks View Post
It wasn't easier to be a Union Carpenter here in Southern Cal. In fact it was bust ass work. When we walked, it was a run walk. The Union payed close to 36 an hour 15 years ago, with full bennies. Their was always someone willing to take your job. They made damn sure you knew that too.

With that said, they took care of us, lunch tables and chairs, a full time hot truck that never left the sight, one guys only job was to keep coolers full of ice and gatorade. Hell there was an ice maker on site. We also did calisthenics and stretching exercises with the saftey Foreman every morning. Not to mention because they never shut down the site, there was 24 hour around the clock crews. Working nights and weekends paid big bucks.
Damn that actually sounds kinda nice!
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Old 12-29-2015, 12:25 AM   #9
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Re: Union V.s. Non Union?


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Originally Posted by Youngin' View Post
Damn that actually sounds kinda nice!
http://www.dpr.com

I was happy, and proud to be a DPR Carpenter. DPR Construction

From Fortune Magazine.

The construction firm has become one of the best employers in the U.S. by keeping employees happy with a variety of perks and benefits programs.

DPR Construction’s raison d’ętre is to build great things—and that includes creating an enjoyable workplace for its employees. Ranked at No. 10 on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list, the Redwood City, Calif.-based company employs 1,600 people in nine states and Washington D.C. and has set a goal to become one of the world’s most admired companies by 2030. On multiple occasions, DPR has consulted with Stanford business school professor Jim Collins, the author of bestselling books Built to Last and Great by Choice. Collins has helped the company’s leaders create a mission and values statement, as well as set a strategy for achieving its goals. In addition to DPR’s oft-touted wine bars, here are just a few of the many perks that make it one of the best employers in America.

http://fortune.com/2014/11/25/5-dpr-construction-perks/
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Old 12-29-2015, 01:00 AM   #10
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Re: Union V.s. Non Union?


We give them a run for their money here in SF. 👍🏼
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Old 12-29-2015, 01:08 AM   #11
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Re: Union V.s. Non Union?


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Originally Posted by elementbldrs View Post
We give them a run for their money here in SF. 👍🏼
You have to admit Doug Peter And Ron are a top notch outfit.
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Old 12-29-2015, 09:13 AM   #12
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Re: Union V.s. Non Union?


I had a bid turned down because my company wasn't unionized. So that's a reason right there.
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Old 12-29-2015, 11:53 PM   #13
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Re: Union V.s. Non Union?


Might want to do a search on here. The topic is like paper vs. mesh tape. People tend to be pretty adamant.
Talk to local union guys... They probably have better feedback than most here.
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Old 12-30-2015, 12:12 AM   #14
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Re: Union V.s. Non Union?


Quote:
Originally Posted by griz View Post
What advantages do you see to being union?
You know where your dues are going.....
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Old 12-30-2015, 10:18 AM   #15
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Re: Union V.s. Non Union?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Californiadecks View Post
http://www.dpr.com

I was happy, and proud to be a DPR Carpenter. DPR Construction

From Fortune Magazine.

The construction firm has become one of the best employers in the U.S. by keeping employees happy with a variety of perks and benefits programs.

DPR Construction’s raison d’ętre is to build great things—and that includes creating an enjoyable workplace for its employees. Ranked at No. 10 on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list, the Redwood City, Calif.-based company employs 1,600 people in nine states and Washington D.C. and has set a goal to become one of the world’s most admired companies by 2030. On multiple occasions, DPR has consulted with Stanford business school professor Jim Collins, the author of bestselling books Built to Last and Great by Choice. Collins has helped the company’s leaders create a mission and values statement, as well as set a strategy for achieving its goals. In addition to DPR’s oft-touted wine bars, here are just a few of the many perks that make it one of the best employers in America.

http://fortune.com/2014/11/25/5-dpr-construction-perks/
impressive
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Old 12-30-2015, 01:40 PM   #16
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Re: Union V.s. Non Union?


We are a signatory GC. We have right now about 300 hundred carpenters and laborers combined. Then around another 200 construction manager/support staff. Due to either our union agreements, clients contract requirements, or union money partially funding projects, we only bid to union companies.

It has its positives and negatives. It does make us expensive, but typically it also levels the playing field. Reality, at the dollars amounts in the work we do, there are very few non-union shops that can compete.

I started out union, as a operating engineer, dad was a lifer in the carpenters, I was too small to be union when I had my own outfit, but I have no heavy negatives against the union trades, but have had extremely bad experiences with non-union.

Typically, no regard for real safety. And I mean safety at a core business structure, not, hey I have a hard hat somewhere mentality.

Very poor trade skill set, usually due to no training, no in house programs, and limited experience. Too much turn over in these shops to make it feasible.

List goes on... Ratty tools, ratty vehicles, ratty employees.

But I've also seen this in union shops.... Just I typically make sure they don't get on our bid list a second time.
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Old 12-30-2015, 10:34 PM   #17
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Re: Union V.s. Non Union?


Not to hijack the thread, but how do you get so many good guys? Does the pay attract them, do you train them, are you able to train them because the union ladder attracts the right guys? Lots of complaints here about not being able to find good guys so I'm curious...
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Old 12-31-2015, 04:12 AM   #18
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Re: Union V.s. Non Union?


Now you guys are kinda talking larger companies, but what about a 4-5 guy shop? Still worth it?
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Old 12-31-2015, 04:15 PM   #19
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Re: Union V.s. Non Union?


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Originally Posted by mattg2448 View Post
Now you guys are kinda talking larger companies, but what about a 4-5 guy shop? Still worth it?
My friend with the small excavating/concrete company is one case where it worked out. But I also know a couple other small operators - one plumbing, one electrical - who were signatories and didn't renew after sweating through a couple difficult years. They were too small for most union commercial jobs, and weren't competitive on residential projects. In order to survive, they laid off their employees and stuck to 1- or 2-man jobs that they could do themselves, without having to pay wages to employees. They're both pro-union, philosophically, but neither would recommend it for a small contractor.

Some of this is locale-specific. Around here, municipal work is all prevailing wage. You're not technically required to be union, but in practice, you won't win jobs if you aren't. I know that some areas are different.
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Old 12-31-2015, 05:41 PM   #20
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Re: Union V.s. Non Union?


I never saw the benefit to hiring a union crew. Around here, union guys are always asking me for work. Also, every experience that I've had with union guys has been bad. Of course that doesn't make them ALL bad but my experiences with those guys have influenced my decision.

The worst experience that I had was on a military base where I was working on a non-union crew. There was another crew on site that was union-based that was there to share the work load. We had separate tasks and worked in separate areas of the building but any time we crossed paths, they weren't very nice to us. They were in charge of operating the elevators so any time one of our guys wanted to go up a few floors, they would give us dirty looks and/or ask where we were going and why.

Then there was another situation where one of our guys was pushing the trash cart to the dumpster. He offered to take the union guys' trash along the way. The union guy said, "HECK NO ARSEHOLE! You're taking food out of the mouths of my children!"


Woah! Calm down buddy! We're working towards a common goal here, right?

We were unboxing flat panel TV's and bolting them to the wall. Our crew installed roughly 5-6 in a day. We'd grab a handful, of TV's, divide up the work, then and knock em out. Their crew did only 1-2. One guy carried the tools, another carried the ladder, another carried the box of wire, etc. So essentially it took 6 guys 5 hours to install 1 TV screen that was already prewired with a back box and backing board for the mount.

I feel like if I hired a union guy, the first thing he would want is a coffee break and a private porta-potty.

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