Building Trades, Features, New York

Why We Choose To Go Union

July 15, 2020

By Ben Kimmel

There is a longtime misconception about trade workers and their education. These ideas date back as far as the separation between white collar and blue. However, in an effort to move beyond the bias of both educational and social snobbery, there is a misunderstanding that exists in the fields of labor. First and foremost, there is a need to explain that one of the benefits of working in a trade union is the mandatory education and training that comes with on-the-job-training. It would be inaccurate to assume otherwise but schooling is mandatory in many trades, which defies the assumption that trade workers are uneducated.

In fact, education is essential to the lifeline and future of union jobs and aside from collective bargaining and negotiation of better working conditions, union workers are provided the necessary training skills which are offered by their respective unions to increase their productivity and understanding of workplace safety. 

There is another longtime misconception about trade workers and their earning potential, which rivals some white collar executives. Additionally, there is a misled opinion that suggests years of schooling and so-called higher education should outweigh the potential earnings of someone that does not meet the same distinction.  However, earning potential is not always synonymous with higher education and job titles. Nevertheless, this too has become a misunderstood factor due to the biases of social programming.

Needless to say, another benefit of union participation is the negotiation of stronger pay and job security. Yet still, skilled trade workers are not seen in the same prestigious light as someone with an Ivy League background. 

Another social misconception is the inaccurate assumption of laziness and arguments at union sites. Meanwhile, productivity is the union’s lifeline. Without effectiveness, there would be no bargaining for a better future. 

The question becomes where is our economy heading in the future? What will the job market become now that Covid has interfered with our country’s financial growth?

As it stands now, the unemployment rate is dangerously high. We are in the middle of a pandemic and in post-Covid times, many are working from home and most are not working at all. However, as phases improve and businesses start to re-open, construction has already resumed in New York City. This means we are building.

Keep in mind, a large portion of essential workers that have remained on-the-job during the shutdown are union employees that have set an example in occupations with practices that set an industry-wide standard for all trades to reach.

Ben Kimmel is a proud member of IUOE Local 94, as well as a Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Certified Recovery Coach, Certified Professional Life Coach and Peer & Wellness Advocate. Ben can be reached at

July 15, 2020

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