A strong union needs skills, benefits and ACTION!


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What is a Union?

A labor union is a group of working men and women who agree to stand together for better wages, working conditions, and benefits. By standing together and bargaining collectively with employers, workers gain the power to negotiate a fair wage for their labor, this is a power that individual workers do not have. Through unity, workers can insist on a fair wage, health care benefits for both themselves and their families, pension benefits for security in retirement, safe job sites, and training for tomorrow’s work force.

As a member, who sets my wage rate?

Rates are negotiated between contractors and the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters through collective bargaining. Members have the final say when a vote is conducted to ratify the agreement.

How much are union dues and why do I have to pay them?

Union dues cover the cost of running the union, which is a nonprofit organization. All union operating expenses are voted on by the membership to ensure accountability. The amount varies from one Local to another.

What Local should I join?

We recommend you contact and join the Local Union nearest your home. The success of a union is based on active members and you are more likely to be active if your Local Union is near your home.

What is an apprentice?

An apprentice is someone who is learning a trade by working under the guidance of skilled workers of that trade, called journeymen. It is on-the-job training. You earn while you learn, and are paid a wage from the first day you become a working apprentice. Today, many women are training as apprentices, too. As an apprentice your wages will start at approximately 50% of the journeyman rate of pay and will increase periodically until you reach the full journeyman scale.

While you are an apprentice you will do 40 hours of training (90% workshop/ 10% classroom) four times a year, a system designed to accommodate the needs of contractors and apprentices alike. When you’re not in school, you’ll be working on jobsites, employed by union contractors.

The courses build from instruction of basic skills like math and geometry to programs that teach the use of leading industry technology and products.

The apprenticeship is a four year program in the New England states and a five year program in New York. But, remember, the training costs you nothing!

Who can be a carpenter apprentice?

Any woman or man meeting the minimum requirements! Apprentices must be at least 17 years old and in good health. A physical may be required. S/he must pass a drug and alcohol test during a 90-day probationary period. A high school diploma or GED is required.

What are area standards?

In seeking to establish high standards for all carpenters in the industry, the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters works to set minimum standards for wages and benefits. These standards include a wage and benefit package that is fair and equitable to both carpenters and the contractors employing them and is established in accordance with economic conditions in each area. Attempts to undercut area standards hurt the ability of the industry to attract and retain skilled crafts workers. The Carpenters union fight to protect area standards is at the very heart of our mission.

My friend says unions are a thing of the past, is he right?

Through the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, workers have a fair say in their wages and benefits. The United Brotherhood of Carpenters set the standard. Without this, non-union bosses would set wage rates – making it impossible for workers to earn a living wage.

Why was the Union demonstrating at a project in my town?

When the union learns that contractors are not meeting area standards for carpenters, we alert the general public and those in the industry through various activities, including demonstrations and/or bannering. We think it’s important for the public to be aware when businesses operating in their communities are undermining the standard of living for carpenters because such activity can have a broader negative impact on the community. While those identified through such activity may not appreciate it, we feel their violation of area standards more than justifies any shame or embarrassment they may experience.

My friend says unions are just in it for themselves, is this true?

The mission of the Carpenters Union is to raise the standards for wages, benefits and working conditions for all carpenters. While most recognize this effort through collective bargaining and representation of members on jobsites, there is much more. The union regularly talks to and educates carpenters on their rights. We encourage them to advocate on their own behalf and serve as their voice when they are unable. And we fight for laws and enforcement efforts for those not protected by a collective bargaining agreement.