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Frequently Asked Questions About Union Labor
Updated On: Feb 09, 2017

Is the Union going to control my business?

No.  We want to be your partner, but have no desire to run your business.  The Union supplies skilled manpower.  It does want you to succeed, and it does want you to respect its workers.

 Is it true I can never fire anyone?

No.  You or your foreman are in charge of layoffs and discharges.

 Will the Union allow me to use my existing work force?

Yes.  Those in your employ who do Cement Masons or Plasterers work would be required to join the Union as a Journeyman or as an Apprentice, depending on their skill level.

 On a prevailing rate job, do I have to pay an apprentice full rate?

No.  Apprentices in our program get paid the appropriate apprentice rate.  We are the only registered program for Cement Masons and Plasterers in Western Washington, so the lower rates are compliant with the law.

 How does the sub-contracting provision in the contract work?

A signatory general contractor must hire a  signatory sub-contractor when doing Cement Masons or Plasterers work.  This provides for a harmonious job site, and a more stable workforce.

 What do my employees have to pay to become members, and what benefits do they receive?

The initiation fee is $150 for all apprentices.  Journeyperson initiation fees are $400.  Under specific/special circumstances, Journeypersons could be allowed a reduced initiation fee of $150.  If they are allowed the reduced initiation fee they must agree to attend a union sponsored COMET/Orientation Class.  Monthly out of pocket dues are $5-15, depending on the level they come in at, and there are hourly deductions, depending on their trade.

The benefits they receive are:  representation for safety, health and other issues, a "marketing team" in the field to procure more work for all the members, free training in safety, new products and standardized methods, a voice in a democratic organization, and health & welfare and retirement benefits.

 Am I going to be less competitive as a Union contractor?

We have successful contractors in all areas of the concrete/plastering construction industry.  They are just like you, they want to make profits.  They feel they have many advantages with their business relationship with us.  Otherwise, they wouldn't bother.

 Does the Union require me to use more help than I need?

No.  As a contractor, you have the final say in manpower, and the flexibility to increase or decrease your workforce as needed.

 How long does the contract last?  Is it permanent, or can I get out if I don't like it?

A contract generally runs in either a three year or five year cycle, so it depends on when you enter the cycle.  Our Business Manager might also consider a one-job agreement, so we can both see if we are a good fit for each other.

 How do the Trust Funds work?

Through the years of negotiated wages, the membership and the contractors have allowed portions of these wages to be placed in Trust Funds, one for health & welfare, one for retirement, and one for apprenticeship and training.  The Trustees of these funds consist of representatives from both Management and Labor, who work under the goverment's TAFT/Hartley laws.  The combination of Labor and Managment assures that both interests are met.  Together, they hire the professionals that invest the funds and counsel the Trustees.  Unlike many other benefit programs in the country today, our Trust Funds are very stable, and money paid into the Trust Fund is tax deductible.

 How are benefits paid?

The contractor has until the 15th of the following month in which the work was performed to pay the benefits to the Third Party Administrator.  This includes the payroll deductions for dues and vacation funds, as well as health & welfare and retirement fund contributions.  For example, the hourly assessments for January should be paid by February 15th.

 Are there different rates of pay for new employees?

Yes.  Apprentices with no prior experience in the trades start at 50% of Journey level wage, depending on their trade.  They receive intensive related/supplemental instruction at our Training Centers.  On prevailing wage work, these lower rates still apply.


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