If you are interested in becoming a union plumber, there are several paths you can take. Some of these include on-the-job training with a plumbing company, attending trade school, or becoming an apprentice through a union. That being said, working for a plumbing union is not the same as working without a union.
What is a Plumbing Union?
A plumbing union is a group of professional plumbers who work together for a common goal.
They negotiate for pay & work scope, as well as benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and training programs.
Unions provide advocacy to protect their members by ensuring adequate workplace conditions and legal representation.
This is especially important in a world where fluctuating workforce conditions can cause problems for both businesses and contractors.
The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada (UA) represents nearly 355,000 plumbers, pipefitters, sprinkler fitters, HVAC service technicians, welders, and pipeliners in North America.
The UA has a 133-year history of providing top-notch training and education to its members. It also supports a variety of community projects and charitable activities that help families in need.
How Do Plumbing Unions Work?
Plumbing unions work by providing a range of services and benefits to their members. These can include:
- Training and Apprenticeships: Plumbing unions often provide training and apprenticeship programs to help new plumbers develop their skills and gain experience in the field.
- Advocacy: Plumbing unions advocate for the interests of their members, both at the local and national levels. This can include lobbying for better working conditions, higher wages, and improved safety standards.
- Collective Bargaining: Plumbing unions negotiate with employers on behalf of their members to secure better wages, benefits, and working conditions.
- Health and Welfare Benefits: Plumbing unions may provide health and welfare benefits to their members, such as medical, dental, and vision insurance.
- Retirement Benefits: Plumbing unions may also provide retirement benefits, such as pensions or 401(k) plans, to help members save for their future.
In addition to these services, plumbing unions also provide a sense of community and camaraderie among their members.
By joining a plumbing union, plumbers can connect with others in their industry, share knowledge and resources, and support each other in their careers.
Union Plumber Job Description: What Do They Do?
The job description of a union plumber varies in that it does not usually involve house calls. Union plumbers most often work on long term commercial jobs for big clients rather than drain cleanings.
They also design, install and maintain sanitary, storm, water supply and gas service lines; plumbing fixtures; and mechanical equipment.
Union Plumber Salary and Benefits: How Much Do They Make?
The average salary for a union plumber in the United States is $70,503 per year, while the average hourly pay rate is $34 per hour. Union plumbers earn 6% more than non-union plumbers in a national average. After 10 – 15 years of service, it is common for union plumbers to earn six figures.
Union plumber salary rates are determined by a variety of factors, starting with the union contract.
Plumbing unions negotiate pay scales in their contracts with employers, so each union plumber salary is predetermined.
Other factors in union plumber pay are education, experience level, license status, and location.
In addition to higher pay, plumbing unions negotiate for high quality insurance and retirement benefits.
Union insurance often has a low monthly payment and covers health, dental, vision, and workers’ compensation.
Retirement benefits for union plumbers usually include a pension plan that pays you monthly in retirement after years of service. You can also start a 401k plan or IRA to supplement your pension income.
How to Become a Union Plumber as an Apprentice
In order to become a union plumber, you will need to complete a plumbing apprentice program in your state. Union plumbing apprenticeships last between 3 – 5 years depending on the state.
A union plumbing apprentice typically works for a company or labor union while also receiving classroom instruction and hands-on training.
During this time, you’ll learn everything from basic construction skills to advanced drafting and blueprint reading. You’ll also receive a great deal of safety and health training.
Union plumbers have the opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects in a safe, organized environment. As a result, you’ll have the chance to grow as a professional and develop your own work habits.
A union plumbing apprenticeship is a highly selective program, each candidate is carefully screened. But completing an apprentice program will set you on the right path towards a lucrative union plumbing career.