LumberJocks

Woodworkers Union in Chicago?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Coffee Lounge forum

Forum topic by Odie04 posted 11-02-2009 09:06 PM 5499 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Odie04's profile

Odie04

5 posts in 2601 days


11-02-2009 09:06 PM

Topic tags/keywords: help question union woodworkers union chicago chicagoland school

Does anyone know of a woodworkers union around chicago where I’d be able to start an apprenticeship?

-- ...Don't make fun of me. I'm brand new


19 replies so far

View Julian's profile

Julian

880 posts in 2988 days


#1 posted 11-02-2009 09:41 PM

There isn’t one. You could joint the carpenters union but you won’t get a job anywhere. The unions are bust right now since the housing market is dead in the Chicagoland area. I sure hope it picks up soon!

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View NathanAllen's profile

NathanAllen

376 posts in 2606 days


#2 posted 11-03-2009 12:35 AM

I agree with Junian on the lack of jobs and a woodworkers union, most of that has to do with the strength of the Carpenter’s Union. The Chicago Regionnal Council of Carpenters; Local 1 (That’s right, local ONE) claims coverage of everything and everybody who picks up a hammer, drill or saw.

In regards to a Woodworkers Union; a little history lesson. A few generations ago the International Woodworkers Association was on the losing side of a protracted battle over trim/finish carpentry. Over the decades between the Depression and the last 80’s this led to most shops jumping ship to the Machinists. The US chapters of the International Woodworkers Association (furniture makers) merged with the International Association of Machinists in 1994, and it’s chapters are organized under the woodworking branch. What this boils down to its just not large enough to sustain an apprenticeship program. Anyways, most of the remaining large union furniture companies are about 4 hours north of Chicago. I’m from there and its nothing to write home about…. err The best you can hope from the IAM is to apply for a scholorship to a private program. Even then, lots of their scholorship money goes to children of IAM members, like the one I received forever ago to go to a 4 year university.

Back to the Carpenters; they do have healthy apprenticeship programs, including mill/cabinet (link below) but you have to understand that if you join that with the economy like it is you will be paying dues for a long time before you receive your first call from the hall. Even then, lots of finish and cabinet makers aren’t in the union.
http://www.chicap.org/p06.asp

Short of getting in bed with them (not that it’s a bad thing, just you have 47,000+ brothers and sisters with more experience between you and you’re call) there are a couple options. Heck, I really like the local 1 gang that gets the tradeshow calls, good guys and gals.

I’m not a professional, but I know that the Don Washow program is offered through Woodcraft classes. No idea if a pseudo-apprenticeship program offers any swing in landing a job.

A number of the city/technical colleges in the area may offer woodworking classes. No idea if there is an official program, like I said I’m a hobbyist.

As far as woodworking guilds, in the western suburbs DuPage Woodworkers is about as close as you’ll get to one, some of them might be able to offer advice. I’d also look into other woodworking clubs in the region, some of them might be able to offer some advise on how to get started.

Chicago proper is different, not a lot of Guild/Club activity, more corporate/shop based.
Some quick internet research pulled up:
The Bauhaus Woodshop program – http://lf.org/bhai2000/

Best of luck.

View Catspaw's profile

Catspaw

236 posts in 3278 days


#3 posted 11-03-2009 01:51 AM

First let me say I appreciate your desire to get into the business, etc. etc. With that said I have to voice this opinion. I will apologize right now for the rant….I really don’t like rants all that much but this is something I beleive in.

We’ve done alot of work in the chicago area. I personally have done work in other areas where there are unions.

As far as I’m concerned, unions should be wiped off the face of the earth. I should say that I have met alot of nice union members who do good work, etc., etc. But I have never in my life seen so many others that stand around and steal money from their employers and the public, who fund many projects such as hospitals and other public works, and who steal from me.

I actually had a union steward and his associated members shut me (us) down…keeping us from engaging in our business. Then he had the gaul to tell me it wasn’t personal….NOT PERSONAL….you’re keeping me from paying my bills…your STEALING that money from me! If the union was better than I was why was I contracted to do the work?

They weren’t even QUALIFIED to do the work I was doing, yet they stole from me like common theives.

Unions are nothing more than corporate thieves trying to pass themselves off as “friends of the little guy”. If you don’t like the pay or the hours or the work ….go find another job. That’s what I do. I don’t need some “union” to fight my battles. The contract I make with my employer is all mine.

I would simply keep at looking for employment at any shop you can find….and don’t PAY for the privilege of getting a job. If nothing else, these are hard times….so if you’re really on it…you have to persevere (sp?)

Good luck and it’s not a half bad career to choose.

-- arborial reconfiguration specialist

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

17667 posts in 3138 days


#4 posted 11-03-2009 08:40 AM

I’ll give you the other side of the coin. At the last turn of the century, 1900, there was no middle class to speak of. Organized labor caused, fought and even died of the 8 hour day, reasonable wages and the benefits that are going away today; like health care. They won everything that is socially accepted and expected today. You can research labor history and learn the details like the Ludlow massacre, Haymaker Riots, the Wobbleys, ect. What you see happening in America today is what the Founding Fathers abhorred; establishment of an elite wealthy, powerful and controlling class.

This reversal started in the 80’s with trickle down economics. The Business Round Table created an artificial recession to try to break the trade unions to reduce their construction costs. 30’s years of this had brought us to where we are today. Teddy Roosevelt said in 1900, a person working 40 hours a week should be able to support a family, send them to school, buy a house and save to have a reasonable retirement. We achieved those goals in the 20th century. Today, it is slipping away. It now takes 2 wage earners to finance what one wage earner financed 40 years ago.

I will predict the unions will be back with a vengeance, but things will have to get a lot worse before people realize that is their salvation. Most people speak of unions as a third party between the employer and business. They are not a third party; it is made up of the employees. There are only 2 parties involved in labor relations. Currently, we in the US are in a race to the bottom to see who can get to substance wages first.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Julian's profile

Julian

880 posts in 2988 days


#5 posted 11-03-2009 04:37 PM

In Chicago the union carpenters are a joke. I have been a carpenter since I was a kid due to the fact that my father was a carpenter, and have built custom homes for most of my career. When I turned 21 I bought my journeymans card and went to work for the union(for 2 1/2 years) building houses in Plainfield at the rate of one house every 3 days. The houses had panel walls, roof trusses, and prefabbed stairs. The sad thing was that I knew more about how to stick build a house than any of the people on my crew. Most of the journeymen in my company only knew how to “color by number” which is what I call working with panel walls. Most workers couldn’t cut a roof or even a set of stairs! Now you wonder why the unions are hurting, it’s because they have a very untrained workforce that is only geared up for mass production.

Chicago is one of the last cities to still have a political machine, and it’s fueled by the unions. In todays world the carpenters union has become a joke. All they want is that money to pay for the b.a.’s jobs and pay for those black cars they drive. Oh, and don’t forget the big inflatable black rats that they have to ust while picketing us non union workers.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View DrDirt's profile

DrDirt

4167 posts in 3204 days


#6 posted 11-04-2009 12:09 AM

The unions are almost single handedly responsible for manufacturing moving overseas!

The middle class really sprang to life during WW2. This is also the start of serious discussion of Equal pay and the ERA discussions, when women entered the workforce into positions (factories) that were dominated by men, who went away to war. The middle class was thus created by the G.I. Bill (officially titled Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944) was an omnibus bill that provided college or vocational education for returning World War II veterans (commonly referred to as GIs) as well as one year of unemployment compensation. It also provided many different types of loans for returning veterans to buy homes and start businesses.

Prior to WWII there was NOT a middle class that afforded college, but the boom in college enrollments with the opportunities created by the GI bill to those who previously could not afford tuition spawned the expantion of the middle classes as well as the very strong unions.
Then globalization became a major issue starting in the Nixon years opening the door to China, then add Favored nation status, NAFTA etc, and the competitive landscape changed dramaticlaly.
THe company I work for has both Union and Non union factories…guess which one closed and which is open. WHich one had shop stewards block and strike because automation was a threat.
The Unions have taken the concept that rather than have high levels of automation that permits us to be compeitive on a global stage, they would rather the entire operation be shuttered and simply gut small towns. All while smoking a fat cigar in the Union hall telling you how they will make those evil bastards give the worker what they deserved – - –
Our production here has remained high, and even though our market is down 10% not a single worker lost their job. The PAIN was limited to a 36 hour work week (still with full benefits, company retirement +401K matching – all with no union) through the summer. Hawker Beechcraft, accross the highway is closing at years end….Moved to Mexico….Union all the way down the toilet! Went on strike in September and October last year…remember the market crash. Unions say Ignore the panic in the streets and fight for new raises – while the markets go to 8000, and congress slams the CEO’s of Ford, GM and Chrysler for using a private aircraft. You can bet those workers are wishing the held the old contract for a 1 year extension and still had jobs.
The unions are history – and good riddance.

-- 'Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners' ~George Carlin

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

17667 posts in 3138 days


#7 posted 11-04-2009 02:44 AM

If unions are the problem with jobs going over seas, why are jobs still leaving by the millions and why did the right to work states loose the textile industry?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View DrDirt's profile

DrDirt

4167 posts in 3204 days


#8 posted 11-04-2009 04:26 AM

The jobs that are leaving are still mostly union jobs. It is a fallacy to equate “Right to work” and “Non-Union”
I am in Central Kansas which is also a Right to Work state.
There are 5 major employers here.
Schwan Foods (Red Baron and Tony’s Pizza)
Hawker Beechcraft (Business Jets)
Exide battery (Auto Batteries)
Philips Lighting (Largest Fluorescent plant in the world)
Salina Regional Health Center

Kansas is right to work – but only the UNION Hawker Beechcraft is shutting down and moving out of the country!

If you dig deeper – you would find out that those textile mills that shut down were predominantly Union, and then regions died out because they could not compete. So learn that right to work only means that companies may not compel you to join the union even if it is a union shop. And the Non-union employees still have to abide by the collective bargaining agreements, and all grievances go throught the Union foreman – which immediatly ‘round files’ the complaints of non-union employees.

Same thing why are Toyota, Honda, Subaru and Nissan building in the US and making cars and not closing down dealerships, but Detroit is in the toilet?? One has to figure that a big piece of Ford posting a profit for the first time in 5 years is in large part due to ‘Cash for clunkers’ than that they are really so healthy. But they are unquestionably the most sound of the Big 3. I have an F-150 myself.

The problem is that unions are not PRO WORKER, but instead are PRO number of members paying dues. They oppose automation, or any modernization that could impact the number of people ponying up dues to support their own bloated bureaucracies. They just watch the company crash and burn and either just close of move overseas….then they just move on like locusts to gut the next company trying to survive in the US.

-- 'Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners' ~George Carlin

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

17667 posts in 3138 days


#9 posted 11-04-2009 05:26 AM

There is no doubt that the race to the bottom will be won by non-union workers. One wage earner jobs will not survive in a 2 wage earner economy. I have seen a lot of abuses of union power and vice versa. As I have said before, the masses in the US will be on substance level wages before long. There have only been 2 strong middle class periods in the history of the country; Pre-Rev and Post WWII. In the history of the world, there is a third during the Renaissance. So many died of the Black Death during the dark ages, the price of labor went up for about 100 years.

The bulk of the condition improvements were made prior to WWII. My grandfather’s generation saw the end of child labor, the last of the company towns and the company stores that owned the souls of the laborers. Since the 80’s, it has been the transition to easy credit and the end of usury laws that has enslaved the masses.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View NathanAllen's profile

NathanAllen

376 posts in 2606 days


#10 posted 11-04-2009 06:06 PM

Poor guy just wanted to find out if there was a union alternative to expensive private schooling. Oh well, might as well join in on the hi-jack.

I don’t think that lumping all types of collective bargaining together is a valid representation of what a UNION is about.

You have four distinct union categories: Service, Manufacturing, Trade, and Other

Service represents teachers, firefighters, police, nurses and other highly trained workers
Members: Trained/Educated
Benefits to worker: Wage bargaining, job security, work environment
Benefits to public: protects highly trained workforce from rapid shift in public dollars/workforce

Manufacturing represents factory workers, farm laborers, etc
Members: Unskilled
Benefits to worker: Wage bargaining, work safety
Benefits to public: Increased income, supressing public healthcare expense

Trade represents the skilled trades; Electricians, Carpenters, Pipefitters, etc
Members: Skilled
Benefits to worker: Continuing training, workplace safety, regulated breaks
Benefits to public: Commercial/Residential quality, Pool of labor

Other represents everyone who you wouldn’t think would be in a union; grocery workers, restaurant/hotel, transit workers, etc
Members: Generally Unkilled to Highly Skilled
Benfits to worker: Collective bargaining, workplace safety
Benefits to public: None

There are benefits and penalties to all types of unions, but it seems all we focus on are the penalties. You can say service unions suck because they protect poorly performing teachers, well they also keep highly qualified Firefighters and Nurses in an economically disadvantaged community through guranteed benefits. Manufacturing unions do drive costs up, but they prevent us from having to pay out millions in public health dollars when a company decides to install the Main-o-matic 5000.

They’re not Angels or Demons, they’re organizations, ones where members get to vote and elect leaders. Focusing only on the bad is like saying “Man I hate Doctors, all they do is kill people.”

View DrDirt's profile

DrDirt

4167 posts in 3204 days


#11 posted 11-04-2009 11:09 PM

Nathan I think your public benefits description is more of an academic excercise.
e.g. when the manufacturing uinons drive up costs – those companies go away.
So the result when all those former employees line up for unemployment benefits can not and certainly DOES NOT “Prevent us from paying out millions in health dollars”

I have worked for the same company making the EXACT SAME PRODUCTS in a West Virginia Union factory, and a Kansas Non-union factory. Reporting into the same corporate structure in New Jersey. So a true apples to apples operation with the same business model, delivering into distribution – - so not like comparing aircraft to lawnmowers to UAW autoworkers or Foreign vs Domestic owned.
Seen the receiving end of employees hanging a 8×10 family picture on the wall of their cubicle. Reason – they took 5 minutes one morning and put up their personal photo. the Grievance: SHould have been done by the certified (Union) mechanic, and have entered a work order for the maintenance crew to do this sometime in the next 6 weeks.
Their Pay docked 1 hour of Union Scale for that 5 minute nail in the sheetrock!
Tell me what about that operation is good for America? That facility is now gone! The town resembles a ghost town but the nudie bar is busy, and everyone is on the dole.

Here (non Union) we lost some positions from automation, and now our business volume is 20% export into the third world. and No layoffs during the past year.

WHich system actually is working??

Topomax is right about the ‘race to the bottom’ I certainly would love to get off the merry-go-round but so long as you have the Big box retailers coming in saying “I can get this from SriLanka for 30% less” do you compete or just throw in the towel?? At the end of the day there are only a few things we directly control. and Globalization is NOT one of them. Our Governments could be more protectionist/anti dumping and that would be good. But I ask you “what do we REALLY PHYSICALLY DO in 2009 or 2010??” Unions COULD do some good here, and executive compension stinks – but maybe if I didn’t ONLY see the unions blocking any and all efforts on the behalf of the little guy and local factory managers to survive, and then lament the facilities closure in favor of imports I might feel differently. In both cases the same CEO still gets their bonuses… they don’t give a crap where things are made – - – it is all on the finance report SALES – COST OF SALES = profit. They say if I can buy this from China, and have our name stamped on th eproduct, then still sell it for now a higher profit….why would they keep the USA factory running?

Unions should be helping the workers – rather than just saying “Fine let them leave” and flying back to New York.

This isn’t some esoteric idealogical debate rather I have watched how things really work, and been stuck with their consequences under both systems – - so the value of unions in practice is NOTHING.

-- 'Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners' ~George Carlin

View Julian's profile

Julian

880 posts in 2988 days


#12 posted 11-05-2009 04:35 AM

I hate to keep beating a dead dog, but I have to say that of the 20 or so union carpenters that I keep in contact with, only 3 are now working. The rest have been layed off for up to 18 months and some are about to run out of unemployment. What is the union doing about that other than stating that you must pay your dues whether you’re working or not?

I realize that this has strayed from the OP’s question, but it hits way to close to home for me as I am struggling to pay the bills, but I AM working. Something I can’t say for most of my buddies in the trades these days.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

17667 posts in 3138 days


#13 posted 11-05-2009 05:34 AM

This is a long way from the original question, but Obie04 may as well hear why there isn’t a union apprenticeship to get into and get a hint of an idea what he’s in for if he does find one.

There isn’t much a union can do about unemployment. It is an organization of employees whose goal is to provide the highest quality craftsmen an employer can find and bargain to maintain fair, living wages and benefits. I don’t know much about the carpenters union, but the one in Seattle has never been very strong.

There are many abuses of the system by lazy unqualified people, business agents that are out to feather their own nest, ect…....... It’s certainly not a perfect system. If some business owners and corporations weren’t out to exploit everyone they can, there would be no need for unions.

I’m retirement age. The trade’s wages and benefits have taken a real beating in the last 25 years. The issue is far deeper than union vs non-union, it is our whole tax structure, trade imbalance, open borders and a multitude of other intermingled issues. Alan Greenspan, former head of the Federal Reserve for about 20 yrs, said it was his duty to maintain a certain unrest in the labor market so the workers didn’t ask for higher pay. It’s too bad he didn’t control the cost of living so the workers wouldn’t need to ask for higher pay. Since I started, the buying power of an hour of electrician time has been cut in half.

If I were advising a young person today, I would tell them to forget the trades. Modularization is eliminating the need for many of the skills of skilled labor. Go high tech if you are capable. When you get good at it, you will find you have very little real competition in the market place. By that, I mean, run your interviewer out of high tech questions when interviewing for a job in your field.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Julian's profile

Julian

880 posts in 2988 days


#14 posted 11-05-2009 03:06 PM

I agree with you that the high tech market is where it’s at. My brother works for a small company that does man machine interface, which basically means that they build computers that run power plants, drywall, ice cream, and even the infamous aids drug. He is very busy now to say the least.

The trades are a tough choice for a career because they are heavily hit by recessions EVERY time. Right now I feel as if I should have stayed in college and went in another direction with my career, but I have to admit that I love my job, and would hate to have an office job.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

17667 posts in 3138 days


#15 posted 11-05-2009 09:07 PM

There is something to be said for working at something you love to do. I know lots of people who were wanting to retire when they were in their 40’s because they hated gong to work.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

showing 1 through 15 of 19 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com