Union Plumbing: What to Know Before Unionizing

A trade union is a group of employees within a specific trade that band together to improve and maintain their current working conditions. Plumbing unions have been around since 1889, and they’re still going strong.

There are a lot of goals that unions strive for, like safe work environments, fair pay, equal rights, and entitlements for holidays and sick leaves. All in all, being a part of a union is a great choice, but is it the right choice for your plumbing career?

Let’s find out in this complete guide to union plumbing! We’ll cover everything you need to know about unionizing before you join your local plumbing union. 

Benefits of Union Plumbing

Every professional plumber faces this decision at some point in his/her career. If you’re at this point, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before becoming a plumbing union member. 

There are some major perks to joining a plumbing union, including: 

  • Expert training is more affordable
  • Better chance of landing jobs
  • More opportunities for travel
  • Better career stability
  • Legal protection and job insurance
  • Additional benefits like insurance, paid leave, etc. 

More Affordable Expert Training

Training to become a professional plumber can be a costly endeavor. Sure, once you go through training and get your license, the compensation is worth it. But getting to that point can be financially challenging. 

Luckily, the plumbing union through the United Association can help with that. If you’re a member of the union, it’s possible to get your education, training, and even equipment paid for. 

The UA provides access to tons of quality training seminars and courses, all of which are led by pro plumbers. This will not only help you to become an expert in the field but also make you a more desirable candidate to potential clients. 

Better Chance of Landing Jobs

When you’re part of a union, your chance of landing more plumbing jobs is greater. Big contracts are common for union members, and this large-scale work certainly pays the bills.

Large-scale jobs include performing plumbing tasks for hospitals, schools, commercial buildings, and even factories. Many large contracts require long-term work.

Opportunities like this aren’t readily available for non-unionized plumbers, so it’s definitely a big reason to join a union.

More Travel Opportunities

While travel isn’t a common part of this profession, it is possible. This is especially the case for plumbers who join a union. 

Unionized plumbing firms are considered more reliable, and businesses tend to trust them. Many businesses and large corporations have offices and locations across the country. 

If you’ve worked with one location of a business and have produced good results, you might just be called in to perform another job in another county, city, or even state. 

Better Career Stability

Plumbing jobs will always be in high demand. This is a vital trade that will never go out of style, so even without unionizing, you have pretty good job stability as a plumber.

While you don’t have much to worry about on this front, joining a union will give you even greater career stability in the long run. A union works to protect this trade even further, so you’re very unlikely to lose your job if you’ve unionized.  

Legal Protection & Job Insurance

Every plumber needs to be insured. Plumbing unions make it easier for their members to find the right type of job insurance. This keeps you covered whether there’s an injury at a job site or an incorrectly performed task. 

Unions also provide their members with legal assistance if necessary. If you’re ever faced with a lawsuit from a homeowner or business owner, a union will help you to navigate this.

Great Benefits

The plumbing union isn’t small by any means. Tons of people have joined, and each of them is treated with respect with access to great benefits. 

In general, union plumbers have better access to health insurance with more comprehensive plans, including vision and dental. Benefits also include better options for paid leave, vacation time, and sick days. 

Are There Any Downsides to Union Plumbing?

The only real downside of joining a plumbing union is the potential cost. Not all unions are free to join, particularly if it is considered a “closed” union. 

If you want to get a job through a closed union, you’ll have to pay your dues – literally. In most cases, the membership fee comes out of your paycheck, and it usually ranges from 2-3% of your income. So factor that in when choosing how much you charge per hour for plumbing services.

To be completely honest, this cost is well worth it. It’s a very small price to pay for the job security, training, and career stability that a union can offer. 

How to Join a Plumbing Union

Many people think you need to be an experienced plumber before it’s possible to join a union. This isn’t actually the case. 

If you’re not already a plumbing professional, you can still join a union. You just have to commit to completing a 5-year paid apprenticeship program to become fully licensed. 

Most plumbers choose to unionize through the United Association. This is the largest union for tons of different trades, including plumbing. Not to mention, it’s the most well-respected!


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