I get asked all the time, about this whole “union vs non-union” debate. I’m tired of the divisiveness it creates when people argue over which one is better, so here’s my thoughts.
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Both union and non-union electricians can be outstanding, and both can be terrible. It’s up to the individual person as to whether they’re going to be a good electrician or not. There are tons of great electricians on both sides of the aisle, and if you ask a city inspector they’ll tell you there’s terrible work being done out there by both as well.
The electrical union is definitely a safe paved path to take, however, it’s much like being crammed into Pink Floyd’s MACHINE. If you like a lot of order, structure, and sameness then it’s a great opportunity. If you’d prefer a little bit more lax, flexible, merit-based system then non-union is a great path as well. The unions guarantee wages, healthcare, and benefits whereas non-union does not. Though a lot of non-union companies do provide these benefits as well, just depends on the employer.
What I think is more important to look at, are what the trade schools out there are putting out. Most trade schools are garbage. They give you minimal training for a high expense, and when you get out the people in the field will look at you like you still have no clue what you’re doing. This trade is 100% tools on. That’s the most important thing to be teaching people…and it should be SUPPLEMENTED with classrooms. Most trade schools have no tools/field components and teach 100% out of classrooms. These kids spend a year or two learning, and a bunch of their parents’ money and get out to a job site and can’t figure out how to use a drill. They’re no more valuable than they were before they went to school. THIS IS A PROBLEM.
As for union, or non…they’re just two different paths up the same hill. If you like paved paths go union, if you like scenic routes go non-union. Either way it’s up to you to get to the top of the hill, and the work you do and quality craftsmanship you develop is on you. Being a good electrician is a choice. Daily.