Unions Empower Union Members

Construction Unions Empower Union Members with High-Tech Training in State-of-the-Art Facilities

As large corporations make a transition toward automated production; ship jobs overseas in an attempt to pay lower taxes and wages; and outsource work to freelancers and contractor workers — non-employees, — a decline in union membership in the United States is also occurring.

The decline is no longer a trend. Enrollment has slid for the last 35 years. Union membership decline is affecting workers’ ability to leverage wages and salaries when negotiating compensation.

According to a late-September article in USA Today, falling union membership over the last three decades affected worker compensation significantly, “Average weekly earnings for nonunion private-sector male workers would have been 5%, or $52, higher in 2013 if the share of union workers had remained at 1979 levels, according to the study out Tuesday from the liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute ahead of Labor Day. That’s tantamount to a loss of $2,704 annually for the average nonunion worker.”

According to USA Today reporter Paul Davidson, only 10% of private sector workers in the United States were members of a union in 2013. In contrast, 30% of the private sector workforce were members of a union in 1970.

Both union leaders and members want to know how to increase union membership. Finding a means of increasing union sway within corporate-controlled industries is also a concern.

In an article written by Forbes Magazine’s Kavi Guppta titled Will Labor Unions Survive In The Era Of Automation?, Ph.D. student Ilaria Armaroli of the University of Bergamo claimed the biggest challenges for unions are, “globalization and international competition; demographic changes through migration and an ageing workforce; technological changes via elements like the sharing economy and digital innovation like automation; and the impact of climate change on jobs and the environment.”

According to Armaroli, “There is no ‘one best way’ for unions to respond to these challenges, but there is consensus that unions will continue to remain relevant only by anticipating and adapting their organizing and collective bargaining strategies to the continuously changing economy, labor market, demography, work organisation, and human resource management.”

While the overall condition of unions in the United States is concerning, there are unions within certain industries and sectors that are not only surviving but prospering. “Anticipating and adapting,” seem to be exactly what the several construction trade unions are doing.

And, those unions are doing so by empowering trade union members with advanced skill sets. Workers with unmatched skill sets have the ability to leverage their aptitude during contract negotiations.

And how are these trade unions developing the means to train large numbers of union members to use cutting-edge technologies and methods?

By developing megalithic training centers across the country.

Union Training Centers Designed to Empower Large Numbers of Union Members

Unions leaders are beginning to understand that small, local union facilities are not nearly as effective at training and educating union members as large, regional union facilities. Local union branches do not typically have the financial capacity to purchase the latest technologies, the means to pay for the best instructors, nor finance cutting-edge facilities.

On the other hand, by pooling the money of members and building large union facilities, unions can make certain union member have the resources they need to learn advanced skills and further their education in the trades.

The Carpenters International Training Center in Las Vegas, NV is 1.2 million square feet, has 70 classrooms, over 300 guest rooms and three conference centers according to a Bloomberg article by Elliott T. Dube. According to the same, the John J. Flynn BAC/IMI International Training Center — operated by the International Masonry Institute — has more than 225,000 square feet of classroom, office, and training space. The Operating Engineers International Training Education Center in Harris County, TX — due to open in 2018 — is on 225 acres of land and the training center alone is a $150 million facility.

According to the International Union of Operating Engineers communications director, Jay Lederer, “tens of billions of dollars of work” is anticipated on and around the Gulf Coast, ““So there already is and there’s going to be even more need for skilled operators down there, and there isn’t a lot of training infrastructure in the South, as much as we’d like to have,” he said.

While the unions are helping the construction and development sector by providing highly skilled labor and operators, by doing so, the unions are giving union members leverage to negotiate salaries and wages, “an almost formal education in the construction industry, on par with any college or university out there.”


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