Here’s an interesting fact: a skilled worker comparable to a journeyman in a non-union plumbing or pipefitting shop roughly makes the same hourly wage as a journeyman in a union shop, an average of more than $37 an hour.
So, why are non-union contractors beating us?
Wages don’t tell the full story.
As you know, we pay union employees a benefits package that is among the best in the industry. As a result, we have to add more than $19 per hour for each journeyman on top of his wages. Non-union shops, on the other hand, average $8.5 per hour in benefits for a similar worker.
Besides the benefits difference, non-union shops also use a lot of helpers, material handlers and laborers to do most of the work that doesn’t require the skill of a full union journeyman. The benefits cost and the differing work rules make it far more difficult for our union contractors to win competitively bid projects.
Over the years, we’ve been able to offer the best wage and benefits packages in the industry and want to continue to go the extra mile for all of our employees. Yet, some contractors and employees don’t fully understand how much we invest in our workers and how it’s invested.
So, over the course of the next several weeks, we’re going to share some information about our pension plan and our health and welfare benefits packages that may help you better understand just how seriously we take these issues.