Despite offering modifications and Target Fund assets, we lost a couple of high-profile jobs to non-union contractors. The breakdown shows the material at basically the same cost and the overhead close, so the difference was the labor cost. The non-union contractor was half of the Local 3 bid: $5 million vs $10 million. In order to get to that number we would need to use three 1st-year apprentices or helpers for each “A” journeyman.
This is what we are up against. Not every non-union electrician makes $20 an hour with no benefits, but their helpers do and they load the job with them. Our skills are better, our productivity is better and we are safer, but we just cost more and too many of the end-users don’t care if they build non-union. Unfortunately, the Building Trades are looking out for their own members, but unless there is a Project Labor Agreement in place, it is likely that one or more of the trades will be non-union. More often than not, it is the electricians.
We have high standards, good wages, and great benefits. If we want to keep them, then we must organize the skilled electrical workers that are undermining your opportunity to make a living. That work is ahead of us. Do your share to protect your job. Join a Local 3 club now, get active and get in this fight.
What I’m also concerned about is our ability to maintain medical coverage while our members are unemployed. We have done a good job, but it boggles my mind why an unemployed Local 3 journeyperson would rather remain unemployed than take a call in Local 25. I would think if our medical stopped after 30 days, then that job on Long Island or upstate or New Jersey, Pennsylvania or Connecticut would look really good, especially if your medical is reinstated. There is work available in the IBEW and they need help. I know it may not be easy to up and travel, but when your funds run out and your medical is gone, it’s the only option other than a $20 an hour, no benefits, non-union job and hopefully nobody’s going there.