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  1. #1

    Default UK Vs USA unions.

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    How are your unions holding up these days? Here in the UK we have a very different type of union system. Traditionally a worker could choose to join a union and they would only get involved if there was a dispute. The UK unions don't portion work out like the USA unions seem to do. Here it's up to you to get work yourself, and that is often by word of mouth.

    In the past the main electrical union was the EETPU (Electrical, Electronics, Telecommunication and Plumbing union). It was used by most electrical trades including linework, general electrical work and specialist trades like elevator mechanics.

    The unions here have gradually merged into a small number of super-unions that seem to be so detached from reality that I often wonder if they are run by the very people they were supposed to protect against.

    I get the impression that some branches of the IBEW (and other unions) are run like protection rackets and wonder if they tarnish the reputation of unions as a whole. Do you think the future of unions is secure or are politics and "right to work (for minimum wage)" undermining conditions,security and safety.
    Portable defibrillators were first invented to save the lives of linemen. Where's yours?

    www.bigclive.com

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigClive View Post
    How are your unions holding up these days? Here in the UK we have a very different type of union system. Traditionally a worker could choose to join a union and they would only get involved if there was a dispute. The UK unions don't portion work out like the USA unions seem to do. Here it's up to you to get work yourself, and that is often by word of mouth.

    In the past the main electrical union was the EETPU (Electrical, Electronics, Telecommunication and Plumbing union). It was used by most electrical trades including linework, general electrical work and specialist trades like elevator mechanics.

    The unions here have gradually merged into a small number of super-unions that seem to be so detached from reality that I often wonder if they are run by the very people they were supposed to protect against.

    I get the impression that some branches of the IBEW (and other unions) are run like protection rackets and wonder if they tarnish the reputation of unions as a whole. Do you think the future of unions is secure or are politics and "right to work (for minimum wage)" undermining conditions,security and safety.
    I know of no IBEW Locals that are run like protection rackets, but my experience is limited to the IBEW 3rd District that encompasses New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The 3rd is the largest district in the IBEW.

    Unions are always under assault in the US, sometimes more so than other times. In today’s environment, the current administration is beholden to the huge corporations And safety regs are under constant assault particularly those regs that impact the employers production, or so the employer says. Should this trend continue, we are heading to the place where the employer sends you home in a box without consequence. the National Labor Relations Board is made up of Presidential appointees, the current board is no friend to labor.

    To say unions portion out work is an over simplification. Construction locals supply workers to employers on an as needed basis. Locals use lists to send workers to the jobs, it’s a bit more complicated than that but that’s basically how it works. Workers employed by a single employer do not “shape up “ at a hall, but are hired directly by the employer then join the union after they are hired. The union represents the worker in all aspects of working conditions, contractual obligations, hours of labor, and wages. That is the case with most “Utility company” lineman, that’s what I was, I belong to the IBEW but my local is not a construction local. Similar with the auto workers, UAW workers are hired by Ford or GM or Chrysler then join the union.
    "It is not the critic who counts:The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena" Teddy Roosevelt

  3. #3

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    In the UK there's a very strong trend of deskilling at the moment. The corporate-utility companies are bringing in workers from other countries to save cash as they will work for our minimum wage. Traditional apprenticeships are being replaced by short courses, often presented as slideshows by trainers with no skill other than running the presentations.

    More emphasis seems to be put on transferring liability onto the worker than training them properly. The certificates they hand out have a five year expiry date and you need to re-do the same slideshow presentation each time for a wad of cash.

    It's all very detached and corporate. It's a return to the Victorian era. Our safety industry seems to be driven by profit.

    I'd say the downward trend started in the 90's.
    Portable defibrillators were first invented to save the lives of linemen. Where's yours?

    www.bigclive.com

  4. #4
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    Same, the employers are attempting to shift liability to the worker regarding safety. Same training, watch a video, take a quiz, you’ve been trained. Trainers in many places have never performed the tasks they teach..... a recipe for disaster.
    "It is not the critic who counts:The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena" Teddy Roosevelt

  5. #5

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    I call the trainers "Space bangers" since they typically only know how to load a slideshow on their laptop and then bang the spacebar while reading what comes up on the screen.

    I recently lost work to a company that hires casual labour (by the day) with no formal electrical training and sends them on a smattering of slideshows to "qualify" them to work live on street lighting supplies. The main course they use for the street lighting aspect is the G39 which lasts one day and issues an attendance certificate whether you pass the patronising test or not.

    I guess the main purpose is to be able to transfer liability onto the labourer by getting a qualification. I'm surprised they've not caused a fatality yet. (Maybe they have.)
    Portable defibrillators were first invented to save the lives of linemen. Where's yours?

    www.bigclive.com

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    In my little piece of the world up here in Canada, our safety people are a mishmash. Some companies still actually have older lineman as the safety man, at least they have a clue, but the trend is companies and becoming multi- trade, linework, overhead and underground and civil as well. The company I work for now has a handful of safety people , one is an older lineman, one is from the civil side, and a couple of young ladies that do the “ show a video and call you trained” thing , but to be fair , it’s usually for things such as working near railroad tracks. As for the union side , we are a construction local with job boards and calls from companies for men as required. Our unions are under attack from big business too. Our biggest problem with the union is representation, the line sector is about one tenth of the local , and we all feel pretty much ignored by the higher ups in the union. We have been trying to break away from the main local for a long time, years, either as a separate unit , or even a separate local , but our complaints and suggestions are falling on deaf ears. We are not even allowed to negotiate a contract with the employers in our sector. The union executive holds all the cards and they are all electricians by trade.

  7. #7
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    There doesn't seem to be much animosity here with the union/mngt in this area, because of the lack of journeymen. As hard as it is to get qualified people, companies tend to play nice when everyone is doing their jobs and following rules. So many guys retiring, it concerns me with the inexperience that's out there. Smart young guys, hard workers, but just green.
    Note to self, just because it pops into my head doesn't mean it should come out of my mouth.

  8. #8
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    I, too, am concerned with the lack of experience. We have some decent young fellas, just no experience.

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