I worked non-union for two years before I joined the UA.

I remember when I first started working non-union it surprised me how I was treated. I made decent money, $28 bucks a hour to weld straight out of school. Green as could be, 19 years old, I didn’t know a thing and, I quickly learned nobody wanted to teach me anything. One guy told me if he taught me to weld better I would take his job.

Safety was out the window. “Get the job done, or we’ll find someone else to do it.” Wish I had a dollar for every time I heard that. Working conditions were poor. Not only did you have to provide all your own tools, you had to take breaks on your job box. Sitting there in a dirty plant eating a sandwich. $28 bucks a hour, so I kept saying this is worth it. I remember seeing guys getting hurt on the job. Never failed, they were laid off or fired soon after that. 19 years old… who needs health insurance… well, it’s not provided by your employer. Neither is 401k, pension, or anything for that matter. So buying all that stuff cost me a ton but, my mother thought I needed it.

Long story short, I’ve been in the union 6 years now, and I’ve never been happier. I make more money, receive benefits, and I am treated like a professional. The union has changed my point of view on everything. Organized labor is the only way. You get treated fairly for a skilled craft you are taught to do, and taught to do right. You get paid a decent wage that you can actually live off of! And, receive benefits!

But those damn union dues!?!? I’ll pay that chump change any day to never work non-union again. It’s changed my life and lifestyle and I’m grateful everyday for my job. Not once before was I able to work close to home and make decent money. I just told my girlfriend this weekend how I would die for my union and to protect my way of life and my family. It’s all about a better way of life. Good money, good benefits, being treated fairly, and a backbone to be there when you need them like my union brothers and sisters. Being a part of something bigger, something more then a corporation or huge company. I’m proud to be a union steam fitter.