Unions in Street Sweeping?

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Tom in CA

Unions in Street Sweeping?

Postby Tom in CA » Fri Aug 05, 2005 4:33 am

(Had this under parking lots, but should've been under "street & highway")

Just wondering what the climate is elsewhere in the state/country, on the union forcing their way into your business?

In central/northern CA, sweeping was a non-union field, since time began. If you were ever on a fed/state/city project, where prevailing wages were required, you just paid "cash in-lieu of benefits". Then about 1997, the Operating Engineers Union started telling the paving contractors that they were required to find union sweepers. The union paver's own contracts required them to "use union sub's, unless none are available". At first, this was easy: since there were no union brooms north of Los Angeles area, the union was forced to back down. But they kept the pressure up, finding a few small companies or individual operators, who gave in to the promise of "unlimited work, no matter what your price is". In other words, it didn't matter how much that union broom charged, or how lousy his quality was, the signatory paver would be forced to use him! (there's your taxpayer dollars hard at work, eh?)

You can guess what happens: When a company sees he's loosing work to this union broom, he's pressured to join. And so on and so forth, till all the geographic areas have union brooms. If someone refuses to sign up, the union simply forces the paver to find brooms from other cities. I actually saw a broom come from 2 hrs. away, to do a 1 hr. job. Another time, a company which was coming from an hour away, and taking all my paving work, broke down, and held up a line of hot-asphalt trucks. They call me in the middle of the night to back this clown up, and yet...... the next day..... he's back at work on the job! Eventually I had to make the tough choice: join the union, and price myself out of the private market (mobile home parks, industrial yards, non-union paving, etc...), or join up and keep the other half of my work (the highway type stuff). The union gets their way, and skims a buck an hour off the top of all hours worked by my guys. Is that anything short of legalized extortion? Sounds like the Godfather movie, eh? ("give me a piece of the action").

Any other experiences on this out there?

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Postby Dwan » Fri Aug 05, 2005 4:50 pm

I am a member of local 302 Operating Eng. and have been for 18 years. I was forced to join to keep my job on a construction site. Cost to me at that time to join was $300 and $65 a year. I joined as a (OWNER OPERATOR) That way I was able to work on eather union or non union jobs as I ran my own equipment. I do not have any body elce work for me except my wife and I do not run my business as a union shop. I do pay the yearly dues which are now $100 per year but never hear from them except to vote and go to the christmas party.
I think the key word here is OWNER OPERATOR, as it puts you in a different perspective. I started sweeping a few years after I joined before that it was for operating other types of equipment. The union does not recieve any money for the work I do and never will. Some times I wish they would that way I could get some medical and retirement bennifits.
Dwan

Tom_in_CA

value of their benefits

Postby Tom_in_CA » Tue Aug 09, 2005 12:31 pm

Dwan, I'm not so sure you would want their benefits, for the price they'd actually cost you. If you started contributing for each hour you worked, (and you'd need a minimum of a certain # of hours per month), and if you did the math, you would find, in the end, that you would be better served to just go to any insurance company, and pay your own premiums. Unless of course you have lots of kids, health prob's, or are getting up there in your years, then their blind "accept all" system might be better. For most people though, the amount of contributions it keeps to stay active in their health plan, is more than you can find the same bennies for, on your own.

Same for their pension: You wouldn't get "vested" till 5 yrs. If you worked any less than that, you loose all that money! Why not just open up a bank account, even with a modest interest, and put the money in there?

You are lucky that they allow you to work, with nothing more than the card in your wallet, because, as I understand it, owner-operators are required to also pay in, per hour, on a few of the categories. None of which provides benefits, unless you elect to add in more, as if you were an employee. A total rip. From the union's perspective, it's to "protect" their members from owner-operators coming in with a lower labor price, and thus under-bid their union member's companies. But it still boils down to, you and me can't work for our own customers, unless we pay the mob a "piece of the action" :x

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Amazing

Postby Guest » Thu Dec 22, 2005 9:56 am

I think that that is a brilliant idea.

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Tom_in_CA

Postby Tom_in_CA » Thu Mar 23, 2006 7:39 pm

you think "what" is a brilliant idea?

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Unions

Postby comsweep » Fri Mar 24, 2006 12:04 am

When I was in Reno, NV the union tried to get us to join. The bennies would be Zilch, the cost LOTS. The union lost.

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Postby Dwan » Fri Mar 24, 2006 1:40 am

My situation must be uneek (sp). as a card carying member of 302 operating enginears, "Owner operator" I can work on eather union jobs or non union jobs. My compeny does not have to use union labor. I do not have to pay pervailing wage unless it is required because of state or federal funding. The union has no control over me and what I do. yet I am alowed to work on a union controled site. I have checked with my union rep about paying myself union wage on a job so I could get benifits and was told by the union rep it would not be worth it and to go find my own insurance, or higher on as a union emp. on a union job but don't use my equipment. (I would operate someone elses equipment).
I feel unions had there place but that was before the goverment got involver in controling working conditions. Now I feel the only thing they are good for is a hireing hall ware one can get quilified operators/workers. (and that is going down hill in a hand basket.)
I did check into it and found if my co. was to take a union job with my sweeper I would have to be the one to operate it and not an employee as I am the card caring person not my business. Also if you checked into it there are temp. union memberships avalable that are good for a month or 2. I have had to sign up for the local electrical union when doing work for the phone co. and power co. I think it was a $10 fee w/no witholdings.
I have found it is much more benificial to work with them then try to fight them. Again I think the key word here is "owner/operator" which alowed the flexability I have.

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Postby Tom_in_CA » Thu Mar 30, 2006 8:40 pm

Dwan, I think you are a hair-width away from trouble. If what you're saying is true, that all you need to do is have the relatively inexpensive plastic card in your wallet, and don't have to pay in any hourly contributions.........then something's wrong with that picture. I think you have merely escaped scrutiny because no one's complaining. Quite often the union business agents are wrong in their advice, and only work on a complaint basis, of who they want to hassle, when it fits their needs.

Example: Take prevailing wage jobs for instance, since it would be redundant to pay one's self prevailing wage (out of your left pocket, and into your right pocket?), you could conceivably WAY outbid your union competitor, who is paying prevailing wages to his employees. The total package, once you include wages & bennies, is $42-ish per hour around here. Conceivably you might be content to pay yourself only $30 p/h, and thus underbid your competition by more than $10 p/h! How long do you think it would be before your competitors would cry "foul" to the union?

There is something in the minutia that says you must pay into the system p/h on a few of the bennie contributions, which of course, you will never benefit from. Maybe it's only on Prev. wage jobs (vs private jobs), and the B.A. you talked to wasn't fully understanding your question. If you're getting away with it, by all means, don't ask questions. But if someone in your area complained (this is happening right now in my area between owner-op's and a certain big co.), the union could pull this rule out of a hat on you. Good luck.

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Postby Dwan » Fri Mar 31, 2006 12:10 am

Tom, The business agent here is the head of the Alaska regen and is the one that told me this is the way I should operate my business in conjunction with the union. In 22 years there has never been a conflict and I have gone through 7 business agents in that time and they have all known of the way I work. I am not the only one in this area that works this way as I know of atleast 3 others here in town. I see no problem with it as I do not bid union jobs but have been requested to work on them by the general in charge. Again I do not beleave in bidding low to get work, I know what my overhead is and what I want to make a good living so I will bid what I need to make what I want and not try to under bid the other guy. I seem to be doing something right as I have made a good living doing things this way for some time now.

As an owner of a business the union can not restrict me form working on any job I wish to which is not a union job. and as a union man I can work on a union job.

Dwan
I know what I am doing and so does the union and there is no conflict. I am proud to be a member of the local and fly my union seal on my equipment but that does not mean I can not accept nonunion work. (if it did I would resign)

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Re: Unions in Street Sweeping?

Postby TheRoadCleaners » Mon May 28, 2012 10:53 pm

Every public street within the city is swept two times in a month. The street division of the Public Works Department keeps up 243 curb miles of city roadways. In some areas of the city, parking is limited on chosen street sweeping days.
_____________________________________________
Ajax Ontario Street Sweeping


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