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What Are the Benefits of Working Under HVAC Union Jobs?

For those who work in heating, ventilation and air conditioning, commonly called the HVAC field, there are a couple different options for those who wish to be in a union. Regardless of what HVAC-related union you're considering joining, there are some benefits that cut across all union affiliations. Before you start an organizing drive at your place of employment, familiarize yourself with joining a union in your industry.

Training

For those who have not entered the profession yet, a union apprenticeship can provide you with the training that you need. Unlike traditional technical college training, union apprenticeships allow you to earn a decent wage while you learn your trade. Further, union apprenticeships often come with full benefits, meaning that you enjoy health coverage and accrue vacation time while still learning the HVAC trade. Union apprenticeships provide their members with the opportunity to find a firm grounding in the basics of the trade while moving onto specialization after two or three years.

Wages

In addition to earning wages while training as an apprentice, union members generally earn higher wages than their unorganized counterparts. The Sheet Metal Workers International Association boasts an average pay rate twice that of non-unionized workers in the field. Further, many union contracts also include ways for employees to make extra money, including shift differentials and premium pay on Sundays in the form of either a flat rate or time-and-a-half pay.

Career Advancement

While the opportunities for advancement within the union job per se are limited, union training and experience gives you a background of support for further advancement later in your career. It is estimated that over 80 percent of all shop owners and construction contractors began their careers as union apprentices. Further, those with a taste for union politics will find that they may be interested in lateral career moves to local, state, national and international union offices.

Contracts

Non-unionized labor is typically characterized by "at-will" employment. This means that you can be terminated at any time, for any legal reason or no reason at all. In comparison, unionized HVAC workers will generally have contracts. These contracts specify the reasons for which employees can be terminated and what kind of employment they can expect on the job. When there is a discrepancy between the wording of the contract and the reality of the job, HVAC workers on a union job have grievance procedures to fall back on through their shop steward.



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