Should I Join Welding Union

February 1, 2021

When it comes to taking advanced welding as a career, you have two choices.

You can either form a welding union and work with them or you can remain union-free and do your work. They all have their advantages and disadvantages, and what to do depends on professional style, background, and social tastes.

Improved Work Protection for welding workers is fighting for higher pay for their workers and better conditions at jobs, health insurance, and retirement plans. For these same reasons, several welders enter the union, allowing for better job stability.

What are welding unions?

A welding union is an association that serves as an agent between its members and the company that hires them.

The welding unions allow clients to demand more favorable working hours and other benefits. There are three types of welding unions that you can join according to your certification.

What Kind of Welding Unions Are There?

Many unions are eligible for registration that cater to particular welding sectors. It includes the following:

Plumbing and pipefitters unions

The Unified Organization, for example, specializes in pipe welding from domestic and private companies and public works supply chains.

Ironworker’s unions

iron workers

The International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union (IW) operates on all types of infrastructure and building of all sorts, from schools and stadiums to bridges to car production.

Boilermakers welding unions

The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers (IBB) is engaged in heavy industries and construction in shipbuilding, shipping, railroads, mining, and related industries. Boilers operate mainly for metal systems that are prone to high temperatures and pressures.

What are the benefits of joining a welding union?

Much like all other job options, taking the right steps is a crucial part of the whole process, and welding is no different.

These involve entering an official union as an organization that will support those in desperate need of job upgrades, no matter what experience you have.  An experienced welder to a young individual in the industry, they will be benefits you will gain from entering the company.

Higher Income

One of the top advantages of being a union member is that you enjoy a higher wage than your non-union counterparts. Union employees earn around 20% higher in pay (not counting benefits) than those in comparable positions not sponsored by the union. Union employees are also more likely to earn consistent wage rises daily.

Better Job Security

Welding unions are fighting for higher pay for their workers and improved protection at jobs, health coverage, and retirement plans. For these same reasons, several welders enter the union, allowing for better job stability.

Although 'at will' employees can be let go at any moment, unions demand evidence from employers of misconduct, negligence, or policy breaches before the employer can fire union representatives. The union can also mediate between employers and workers should grievances occur.

Better Workplace Safety

workplace safety

Welding can be a risky profession, and labour unions have a part to play in ensuring that workers have a safe workplace atmosphere and are kept responsible for injuries suffered by union members.

The activities of the Welder Union ensure that workers establish and maintain a high level of safety procedures in the workplace.

Community Benefits

Since unions hold the strength of figures, complaints and demands for equal pay are given greater weight than individual needs. Welding unions shall, on behalf of their members, ensure that welders are compensated equally and have enough benefits.

What are the drawbacks of joining a welding union?

While welding union members usually have higher salaries, membership in the union has also had monetary and non-monetary costs.

You will therefore sacrifice your autonomy by entering, and you may experience additional drawbacks.

Here is the list of disadvantages when joining a welding union:

Fees and Dues

The financial costs of union membership involve dues and, in several cases, fees for membership.

Loss of Freedom

When you belong to a welding union, you forfeit the right to negotiate wages or compensation for yourself. In some cases, collective union bargaining might not be in your best interest. 

As a member of a welding union, you won't get to decide for yourself whether or not you wish to strike. If you want to work, you might be liable for a penalty or other punishment from the welding union. Your employer has the right to recruit several employees after the strike, but you have no assurance that you will be called back directly after the strike or that you will be paid.

Worker Against Worker

welding union drawbacks

Welding union laws often turn employees against each other. As workers require higher salaries, employers with small funds will have to slash jobs to afford higher wages.

Welding union laws usually grant seniority-based workplace protection, meaning that a productive younger worker may be laid off while a less productive older worker remains. If you're new to the market, that's terrible for you.

Workers Against Bosses

Some welding unions have a history of unfavorable relations with employers. As a result, unionized employees frequently face a less friendly atmosphere with employers than non-union workers. 

Managers may consider unionized employees more as underlings and less as associates, and staff may feel that their managers have less interest in them.

How to join a welding union?

There are three things you need to do to join a welding union.

You need to receive sufficient certification for welding by the Ironworkers and the American Welding Society. Second, you need to study the many pipefitters, boilers, or ironworker unions in your field to find the best one for your needs. Third, you need to request an essay, along with a subscription fee, to be admitted.

Unions have varying conditions for membership. You need at least five years of preparation or experience in the welding industry. Others are more reserved and bringing with them new members.

If you believe that a union is your only choice, you need to make sure that you are comfortable with their unique criteria.

These criteria vary from union to union, but all of them start with the required welding qualification.

The first steps you would take would be as follows:

  • Ensure you get the AWS Welding Credential
  • Choose and study the different local unions that suitable to your preferred specialization, such as pipefitters, boilers, or ironworkers' unions.
  • Send your application and your membership fees to join the union.

Education Requirements to Join Welders Union?

aws education
User comments

What professional qualifications do you need to join the Union of Welders?

Welders' unions typically expect a higher degree of experience and qualification than non-union employment. They also demand a high degree of skill from their members and pick their welders accordingly.

Welding business schools will help trainee welders as they plan for a future in a technical welding union. The blend of technical preparation with realistic practice offers aspiring welders well-rounded training beneficial for the advanced welding industry

If you wish to become a union welder, you would need to be trained by the American Welding Society (AWS). Once you are a member of the union, the payments to be accredited shall be waived. Certification takes place online these days, but there are also approved testing centers in most countries.

Many welding courses take just six months and have experience and skills in the handling of welding equipment. Course themes usually cover:

  • Safety practices training by OSHA Authorized Construction Trainers 
  • Equipment handling
  • Welding symbol charts 
  • Cutting torch operating
  • Techniques of metal plates preparation

Should I join a welding union?

benefits of welders union

The distinction between union and non-union work also takes place in debates at welding forums.

Others say it's easier to work on your own, while others swear by the benefits of being part of a union.

Union welders tend to gain higher on average than non-union welders. It is because unions have a closer relationship with both companies and political agencies. Unions have a large number of available welders as participants.

They will quickly locate the best number of welders with the right skills with their customers. It makes them more reliable and allows them to charge higher rates.

However, members are expected to abide by the laws of the union and to pay membership fees. They will have to work on a project that they are not involved in merely as they're the only work available for the union. It's like working for a corporation to be part of a union in a way. You do have the flexibility to pick the kind of job you want, but you don't have the same degree of control that you do on your own.

Working as a non-union welder gives you the flexibility to allow the work you choose. However, you would find it impossible to charge a higher fee unless you are seasoned and have established a stable client base.

Welding Union Job Responsibilities

education

The different welding union workers have different roles and specifications that are unique to their specific sectors.

We'll address each of the main types of unions and the obligations you'd assume if you'd join them.

  1. Ironworker's Union to be part of the ironworks union must prepare to be engaged in demanding and sometimes dangerous jobs, often at high altitudes.
  2. You will need a strong sense of equilibrium and alertness to danger, and conscientiousness in your job.

The industries engaged in ironwork include:

  • Structural
  • Reinforcing
  • Ornamental
  • Rigging and Machinery Moving
  • Welding and Burning
  1. Pipefitters Union welders aid with the design and development of high and low-pressure steam and hot water systems, refrigeration and heating systems, and oil and diesel tubing.

The pipefitter operates in high climates, both inside and outside, and is also exposed to adverse weather conditions. Pipefitters who are members of the union will be involved in all pipe fitting activities from the planning stage to the fabrication and assembly process.

They are supposed to work using a range of grinding, leveling, and welding methods. They would have to view the drawings and execute the blueprints accurately.

Any of the industries involved in the pipe fitter's work include:

  • Heating
  • Air Conditioning
  • Refrigeration construction companies
  • Mechanical construction firms
  • Pulp and paper mills
  • Primary Steel producers
  • Utility companies
  • Motor vehicle manufacturers
  • Metal fabricating companies
  • Oil refineries
  1. Boilermaker graduates need to know how to weld and rivet with advanced tools and to have a basic understanding of chemical and water content and temperatures.

A boilermaker’s Job responsibilities include:

  • The building, maintenance, and cleaning of large tanks
  • Burning, gouging, and welding 
  • Interpreting blueprints
  • Erecting steel beams and column
  • Aligning and fitting components
  • Assembling blast furnaces, smokestacks, and steam-powered turbines
  • Maintain large pipe systems.

Conclusion

Welding is a demanding and challenging career with many paths to pursue.

Joining a welding union is up to each member to determine, and a lot of consideration needs to be given to which technical union matches the best welding career. Unions have insurance and support and provide excellent apprenticeship opportunities that you can benefit from as you are studying.

We hope you have a better understanding of how to continue with the union application process, and we wish you a secure, profitable, and efficient future in welding.

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