COMET is an educational forum by which union members are reminded of the need for organizing the electrical workforce. It is necessary for the union membership to understand why organizing is the most essential ingredient in controlling the electrical construction work within their jurisdiction. It is more important to understand the positive impact that organizing will have on all electrical workers.
Myths about the Union
Myths of unions develop from various sources. As widespread are the sources, so are the reasons behind these myths.
From the employers' viewpoint: The non-union employers promote negativism concerning unions to retain control of their employees. They do not want to lose their employee to a unionized contractor, nor do they want to bargain with their employees as a whole, with a union representing them. They consider the balance of power to be correct when the employer has all of the power over their company. The employees are to be seen and not heard.
From a supervisor's perspective: They typically promote the employer's agenda, but there is a unique bias to their rationale. They need qualified persons working for them to put in the work and make them look good. If the person that works for them were to join a union and seek employment with a union contractor, this would exert pressure on the supervisor personally. He would then need to get someone else to perform assigned duties to keep him or herself in a supervisory capacity. Their motives are self-serving.
From a co-workers perspective: Unless they are a union organizer, they probably will not have any more credible information than you have.
The keys to discerning fact from fiction are information and education. If you educate and inform yourself about what a union has to offer, you will be able to see through the fog of myth.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Local 22 for the information you require.
Union Myths vs. Reality
Myth: Union members only work sporadically.
Union electricians are like any other electrician; they have the same mortgages, car payments, utility bills, etc. Therefore, union electricians must secure income on a regular basis to support their families and themselves.
Logically, how could they fund these endeavors on less than full-time employment? Average hours worked for LU 22 electricians was 2013 hours in the year 2000. This does not include vacation time, holidays, etc.
Myth: When I take a job, as soon as that job is over, I have to get another job.
As a journeyman, you choose a particular contractor, not a particular job. You can stay employed by this employer as long as you choose to stay in the contractor's employ, or as long as the contractor chooses to employ you. You can be moved from one project to another based on the needs of the employer.
As an apprentice, the Training Director gives you a training assignment to a particular employer, not merely for the tenure of a project.
Myth: If I become a member of the union, I will have a low seniority and be less employable than long-time union members.
There is no seniority in the IBEW. We compete for our jobs on a daily basis. We do not maintain our employment based on seniority, but rather by a good work ethic and our skills.
Myth: All of the fringe benefits are taken out of your base pay.
Your fringe benefit package is over and above your hourly rate. The contractor pays your benefit package seperately.
Myth: Unions have outlived their usefulness.
Unions are as much of a necessity today as they were a hundred years ago. Wherever there are employers that will not pay their employees the wages that they are due, provide the benefits in which those employees are entitled, impose substandard working conditions on them and not provide the training for their employees, there will always be the need for a union. Remember, LABOR UNIONS EXIST MAINLY BECAUSE OF A VERY HUMAN LONGING FOR DIGNITY.
Myth: Strikes can keep me from working.
Local Union 22 does not strike. We have a "no strike" clause in our contract. We are bound by a third party arbitration, which will settle items that the union and its contractors cannot agree upon. Both the contractors and the union have agreed to this method of resolving discrepancies, known as "binding arbitration."
Myth: Union dues are too expensive.
Union dues are something that union members are willing to pay for the benefits and services they receive. If the members did not feel that they were receiving their money's worth, they most definitely would not be paying this money. Currently dues are $33.50 per month. They must also feel that being a union member does not cost -- it pays! As an added bonus, union dues are tax deductible.