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Old 04-16-2011, 01:33 AM   #1
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Question Questions about joining the union

A little back-story: I'm 18 years old living with my folks, was planning on joining the Air National Guard to help pay for college classes but don't really want to be a full time student for 4 years. I think I would like electrical work and would like to join the union ( I'm right by Wichita KS ) for better pay and benefits. Right now I work at a little amusement park making minimum wage - been there for 1 year, that was okay when I was going to class but it would be silly to stay there.

I am not actually sure how the union employment process differs from a non-union job. Do I go to the union house and if they accept me as an apprentice they place me on a job? Or do I have to find a union electrical contractor in my area and get hired on there fist?

The website for my local shows the paychart for Apprentices Years 1-6 ( Shouldn't it only take 4 or 5 years to become a Journeyman? ) and then for Journeyman. Do Journeyman continue receiving a raise each year or do they all make the same? For instance would a man that has been a journeyman for 2 years and a man that has been a journeyman for 5 years make the same?

Are you only able to apply during a week or two period each year? The pipe-fitters union for my area says they only accept applications during a small window each year.

I understand there are some exams you must pass, my highest math course was "Intermediate Algebra" at community college, I am fine at reading, writing, and comprehension. Do I need additional math skills?

I would appreciate any answers or suggestions -- I know these may seem like common sense for some of you guys but I really don't know much about how union employment works. Thanks!
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Old 04-16-2011, 01:42 AM   #2
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What is the reason you want to join the union over just working for a shop?
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Old 04-16-2011, 01:50 AM   #3
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What is the reason you want to join the union over just working for a shop?
That is a really good question . Weighing your options is always best before making a desicion .
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Old 04-16-2011, 01:57 AM   #4
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Good insurance and pension, starting pay is listed at 13.00 + benefits and continues to rise.

Sounds like it is worth the union dues to have someone negotiating fair wages and benefits.

Also when researching electricians wages, many sites say union members are generally better reimbursed

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Old 04-16-2011, 02:03 AM   #5
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Would you want to be an electrician either way? I ask because it should be something you will enjoy and want to have the drive to learn more. Are you picking the electrical field as an electrician cause you think it'll be easy money or because you would love to do it.
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Old 04-16-2011, 02:08 AM   #6
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Good , you did some research . Just remember that things can always change . Our local has had to drop eye and dental on our insurance , plus taking another .50 cents out of our hourly wage going to insurance this year . Our pension percentage has dropped , and we have not had a cost of living raise in 3 years . As long as the local you are joining is a strong one , and the BA is a competent one then I see no reason not to join . There are some very good non-union companies out there who can match what we have as far as pay and bennies , but as you stated we have bargaining ( except wisconsin) for now .

Be prepared for time off work though . Might not happen where you're at , but always be prepared .
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Old 04-16-2011, 02:17 AM   #7
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Would you want to be an electrician either way? I ask because it should be something you will enjoy and want to have the drive to learn more. Are you picking the electrical field as an electrician cause you think it'll be easy money or because you would love to do it.
The pay is a factor in the decision, but I certainly don't expect it to be easy money. I think I would like the line of work either way, yes.

I have only done small wiring tasks ( adding light fixtures, stringing coax and cat5 in the attic etc. ) but I do find it interesting.

Last edited by NitroTurkey; 04-16-2011 at 02:21 AM.
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Old 04-16-2011, 02:26 AM   #8
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Residential , or commercial ? If you are used to busting your butt day in and day out...you might be ok with this line of work , if not you'll find yourself out of work . You'll have to love digging ditches , crawling through small holes , and doing the most menial tasks day in and day out for at least 3 yrs unless you get some good JW's who want to teach you . 5 yrs for commercial , 4yrs for resi . After that you will have another 5 yrs to vest before you can actually claim a pension .
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Old 04-16-2011, 03:57 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NitroTurkey View Post
A little back-story: I'm 18 years old living with my folks, was planning on joining the Air National Guard to help pay for college classes but don't really want to be a full time student for 4 years. I think I would like electrical work and would like to join the union ( I'm right by Wichita KS ) for better pay and benefits. Right now I work at a little amusement park making minimum wage - been there for 1 year, that was okay when I was going to class but it would be silly to stay there.

I am not actually sure how the union employment process differs from a non-union job. Do I go to the union house and if they accept me as an apprentice they place me on a job? Or do I have to find a union electrical contractor in my area and get hired on there fist?

The website for my local shows the paychart for Apprentices Years 1-6 ( Shouldn't it only take 4 or 5 years to become a Journeyman? ) and then for Journeyman. Do Journeyman continue receiving a raise each year or do they all make the same? For instance would a man that has been a journeyman for 2 years and a man that has been a journeyman for 5 years make the same?

Are you only able to apply during a week or two period each year? The pipe-fitters union for my area says they only accept applications during a small window each year.

I understand there are some exams you must pass, my highest math course was "Intermediate Algebra" at community college, I am fine at reading, writing, and comprehension. Do I need additional math skills?

I would appreciate any answers or suggestions -- I know these may seem like common sense for some of you guys but I really don't know much about how union employment works. Thanks!

Well take my advice and go in the military now !

Navy or Air Force get your education in military learn your trade there and let them pay your way and the schooling you get is way better then any Electricains app ABC or union school .

Dont waste time do it now sign up !
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Old 04-16-2011, 01:02 PM   #10
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Well I have been trying to get into the local 531 IBEW out of Michigan city, Indiana for almost 2 years. This will be my re-interview this year. I know that each union hall or local differs quite a bit from county to county just like the national electric codes. You sound like you dont know much about it which isnt a good sign for the commitee board to see. Like I said they are all different though. The one I am tryin to get into I payed $10 for application then 6 months down the road I received a letter to take an aptitude test. Then 3 months later I got a letter to be interviewed which was in a big conference room at the union hall school where 5 guys on the commitee board each asked a question. 1.) give 3 reasons why u want this. 2.) tell me of an experience when you worked with 3 or more people on a project. 3) tell me of an experience when someone got on your nerves. 4.) tell me of an experience when you blew up on somone. and 5.) tell me what you think your biggest achievement is. then 5 days later was rejected. I would guess urs is 6 years because the 1st years is probationary before school starts. I hope I get in or maybe the 3rd time is the charm haha. Good luck to you! and if you want to know more message me!
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Old 04-16-2011, 01:53 PM   #11
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There are some very good non-union companies out there who can match what we have as far as pay and bennies , but as you stated we have bargaining ( except wisconsin) for now .
.

You know that statement for private sector union members IS NOT TRUE.
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Ah, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now

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Old 04-16-2011, 02:01 PM   #12
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Right now electrical construction is a very tough market and actual work is limited in many/most states.

I would try to get in the union first. But do not let them jerk your chain and leave you hanging for two years. They need good young men more then you need them at this time (as far as leaving you hanging, waiting for a REAL answer).

Next I would try the open shop market and see if there are any companies that may have work.

If neither can offer you something think about the military, like the Coast Guard. Last place you should want to go at this time is Iraq or Afghanistan.
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Old 04-17-2011, 12:49 AM   #13
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I would have loved to stay in the union. The pay and the benefits were great. I just didn't like being unemployed for 4,5,6 months at a time. I make less per hour now but at least I work most of the year. But even non-union kinda sucks. I'm considering going out full time on my own. I've been doing pretty heavy side work for a couple of years now. Think I'm ready to make the move. As for you, apply to the local, but also look for an open shop position. You might get lucky.
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