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In Jersey. I have 5 yrs experience as a cabinet installer and i'm very good at high end crown molding but the guy in the union told me it's good that i have a skill like that but those type of union jobs pay less than industrial jobs. I've only done sheetrock a few times(don't have a problem with it)i've never done ceilings,doors or concrete columms so he said if he sent me to take the journeymans test,i may not do too good with those things. How hard are these columms and how can i learn this stuff before joining the union? I want to make sure i know what to expect on the test and not just go there and chance failing it thinking i can do better than 1st yr apprentice. I want to get in at least 2nd and possibably 3rd yr apprentice but journeyman if possible. I am fast at learning hands on but i will not learn from a book. thank you
 

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Move south. No union, pay is better for skilled labor and the weather is a hell of a lot warmer. Skilled tradesman do very well, if they can prove they are good. A GC will always take care of the better ones.
 

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Unions, in Chicago, are ONLY good if you plan on doing new construction. I prefer to not do new construction.

You can find reputable companies willing to pay slightly less than union wage, but keep in mind that you have to pay union dues etc... and in reality most consumers don't care about unions or not.

From the point of view of an installer... If I were still an installer full time; I'd probably be in the union. Since I am not management; I have a very low opinion of the UNIONS, not the union workers.

IMO, unions breed laziness and artificially inflate the customer's costs. At the same time there is alot of redtape which eliminates the flexibility of a company to service the customers.
 

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pondman said:
Move south. No union, pay is better for skilled labor and the weather is a hell of a lot warmer. Skilled tradesman do very well, if they can prove they are good. A GC will always take care of the better ones.
The companies we work for pay $32-$35hr for service work(I'm not a service guy i'd rather get real work rather than change a few knobs doors and draw fronts)and to give you an idea of a budget job,a $1,200 job will usually take 2 of us 2 8hr days to complete. I know some companies pay more but we just haven't found them yet :) If we work directly with homeowners we make $45hr per person easy. That's a good price for them,but those jobs don't happen much. trust me,i would love to stay with what i'm doing because i love it and i don't want to work around lazy union workers,but i just can't seem to get my mind off the medical and pension for my family. I just need someone who has everything together to explain the best way to go about all this because the guy i work with doesn't have it ALL together. He's a really nice guy but he takes shortcuts alot and i can't afford for anything to come back to bite me in the ass later in life... and now having a son and wife,i really can't take any chances. My good friend moved to Florida and i know there is plenty of work there but i just can't see the pay even being close to what it is here and besides my wife wants to be close to family. I would love to move south even with a paycut. No snow and able to work all the time around all the slower installers :) only kidding. I'm sitting home now just waiting for cabinets to come in so i can work. 1 person drops the ball and there goes the job and my money. it sucks,i really need to hook up with someone and get work from reliable companies. thanks for the response,i have to feed my son now. later
 

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MANTUS said:
The companies we work for pay $32-$35hr for service work(I'm not a service guy i'd rather get real work rather than change a few knobs doors and draw fronts)and to give you an idea of a budget job,a $1,200 job will usually take 2 of us 2 8hr days to complete. I know some companies pay more but we just haven't found them yet :) If we work directly with homeowners we make $45hr per person easy. That's a good price for them,but those jobs don't happen much. trust me,i would love to stay with what i'm doing because i love it and i don't want to work around lazy union workers,but i just can't seem to get my mind off the medical and pension for my family. I just need someone who has everything together to explain the best way to go about all this because the guy i work with doesn't have it ALL together. He's a really nice guy but he takes shortcuts alot and i can't afford for anything to come back to bite me in the ass later in life... and now having a son and wife,i really can't take any chances. My good friend moved to Florida and i know there is plenty of work there but i just can't see the pay even being close to what it is here and besides my wife wants to be close to family. I would love to move south even with a paycut. No snow and able to work all the time around all the slower installers :) only kidding. I'm sitting home now just waiting for cabinets to come in so i can work. 1 person drops the ball and there goes the job and my money. it sucks,i really need to hook up with someone and get work from reliable companies. thanks for the response,i have to feed my son now. later
I'm a contractor and my husband is a Union carpenter. We have found the following:

Union benefits seem to be a lot better then non-union. They include medical, dental, vision, pension, hours, continual training.

Should you choose to make a career move, as long as you continue with another union contractor, you don't loose any benefits. Maybe you're with a contractor that isn't keeping you as busy in residential and you see a union contractor that seems to be keeping his commercial guys busy, through the union you can be more aware of this and potentially make a move without hurting your family situation.

Dues true, but having a weekly/monthly expense taken from your paycheck is usually worse. Dues are also tax deductible.

Sure, you could possibley work with someone in the union that may be taking advantage of the union scale and not working to their potential. However, keep in mind a good employer will recognize your work ethics and reward you with bonuses, continual work, etc.

I have used both union carpenters (through my husbands employer) and tried non-union carpenters (to test the waters). My overall impression is that by using a large enough union contractor, they will have a guy that is qualified to handle my specific job vs. a guy from a smaller company that is spread too thin and expected to handle too many scenarios.

I hope this helps you.
 

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There is nothing wrong with hiring foreigners. Just because youa re born in this country does not mean you are a better tradesman. That is one lie perpetuated by unions. How can you fault a person who leaves their home and everythig they know to better themselves and their families? As long as they are legal to work here and pay their taxes I don't care where they were born.

If you go back far enough in your family history we are all foreigners. I was born here and I know I am clumsy with tools, which is why i work in the office. I employee many foreigner sub contractors, as well as American born sub contractors. I only employ subs who know their trade. I pay my American and Foreign subs the same $$$.

As far as ongoing training and other benefits go... this is something I plan to offer my employees. This is something any reputable PERSON would offer his employees. Nothing is more important than ongoing education and training, especially for installers. Infact tuition compensation was the first benefit I offered to my first employee. There are more benefits to come.
 

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Adapt or die.

Those breaking the law should be punished. Those playing by the rules should not be punished or experience predjudice based on the land where they were born.

When pisses me off, is when people say "foreigner" but really mean "illegal alien". These two terms are not the same thing and actually are nothing alike.
 

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Here is what i think from my experience in the field.. Most of The foreigners i talk to have much better attitudes than the Americans. When i say Americans,i just mean people born in the country. I am sure it's because what they have here is much better than what they had in their country but sometimes when they get used to it,like alot of us do or already have,they will start slacking and attitudes will change. I don't know any foreign installers,most are painters but whatever they want to learn is fine with me. I know a guy from Costa Rica who works steady doing Tile for a GC we also do work for and he is great at what he does. these are million dollar homes too and it usually will take him 3 weeks to complete a house. He makes damn good money too. He's also a very nice guy. Most of the American born installers i know,i can't stand. They don't have the balls to talk to anyone face to face but they are the 1st to talk about how bad all other installers are. I know for a fact they are scared of losing their jobs to someone who is better at the trade. they won't give anyone a chance. I'm not talking about me,i just hate it when people treat the new guys like ******************** when all they want to do is learn and work. I love working in new construction and when i say new i mean 1.5 million and over,but it has died down alot or at least with the companies we are working with. I like high end cabinets with high end crown that takes at LEAST a week per job between 2 people and maybe 3 people for a day in between to complete. I don't like working on remodels with homeowners always complaining to the installer because salesmen don't want to do their jobs. I get along with people as long as they don't suck,but i would rather work on a job without someone always bothering me,which is why i like new construction besides them being bigger jobs
 

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Not to stir anything up, but do you think a similar conversation was had between the last of the buggy makers and the first of the assembly line workers building model T's?

What you are seeing is the wave of the future, you can stand in front of that 20 foot wall of water with both fists clenched and swear at it as it comes to shore, but sure as anything it will eventually break over you and you will still be swearing as the last breath leaves your body.

There are probably at least dozen factors creating what you are seeing in your market, you would be better off understanding them, identifying them and figuring out how to take advantage of them. If you can't find any builders who can afford to employ you, maybe it is time to become one of those builders, or start a framing company and use everything you know to make money on the otherside of the hammer, using these guys who just need good direction. Instead of swinging the hammer, maybe it is time to get some guys swinging them for you. Unless you want engraved on your tombstone "Here lies a great craftsman, unfortunately nobody could afford to hire him," you need to figure out how to turn this to your advantage.
 

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Some GC called me and said he wanted soffit and fascia. I asked what kind? Cedar, aluminum? He said which ever is cheaper. I told him Aluminum will be cheaper but I won't be the cheapest because I prefer to not cut the corners necessary to be the cheapest contractor. He asked me to look at it anyways. I did only because it was less than half mile from my place.

So I go out today and saw a mess of carpentry. The 2" fascia is a complete mess. It's cut short in some area... it's just a mess. Come to think of it the whole job was a mess. That's what he gets for choosing "what ever is cheaper". I added $1 per foot for aluminum soffit and fascia over my normal rates. I don't want to work for anyone like that.
 
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