Week 10 – Labor Relations Blog

Its cool to see that the lecture material for this week pertaining to labor relations and labor unions matched up perfectly with the week 10 material for my project management class that is also covering this same material! As a person who has been engaged in the construction industry for four years now, Ive had a fair share of experiences with labor unions and the individuals on job sites that are employed by them. It’d be hard for me as of now to provide whether I would join labor union or not. In my industry, about 44% of the trades people on virtually any construction project (in Oregon) are members of a labor union (CEM 443 – Week 10 Lecture). Depending on who you talk to, you can hear both sides of the story in regard to these unions. Employers generally dislike employees who are contracted through union due to the fact that they are a lot more expensive due to extensive work rules and contractural scheduling agreements that make collaboration with other trades difficult for the general contractor and the project manager. Some advantages that labor unions and their employees provide to general contractors and their projects is a direct availability to a large pool of highly trained work forces. If a project was to be openly bid on and gained attention from firms that aren’t unionized, chances are that although the cost would be a lot lower, the quality of the product being produced would be less than a unionized firm. Unfortunately, another downside too using a unionized firm would be that the productivity rates are usually less than the latter, mainly due to job security gained from national labor laws regarding unions. With this being said, I wouldn’t be opposed to joining a labor union if I were to enter the trades (mainly being plumbing, mechanical, electrical, and steel fitting trades) in the construction industry. With a higher pay scale, better negotiated benefits including a federal and state pension plan, and a more maneuverable schedule, it doesn’t sound like too bad of a gig!

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