Great pay and benefits are the top reasons why people join the union, right?
Well, that may be accurate, but it’s not why they stay for the long haul.
How about brotherhood? Yes, it’s true.
Members cite the bond and kinship that exists as the top benefits they discovered after joining. All members of the union, regardless of the Local they belong to, have the same core values that tie them together and create a unique atmosphere of friendship and solidarity that is not experienced at any private company.
This brotherhood is special because the other members of the union all have each other’s back, just like a large, extended family with lots and lots of cousins. Local union meetings are like mini-reunions with members getting together to see each other, catch up and network.
Being in the union, you never have to face your problems alone like you do if you work in a non-union shop. If you have a problem or a question, the whole HVAC community will stand up and fight to help you.
Wherever you are in your education process, there is someone to talk through any problems you may have because all union members have the same shared experience of the training program.
All members of the HVAC union community believe in mutually supporting each other for the greater good of everyone. Because of the camaraderie of union membership, you can reach out to any other member and they know what you’re working on and are always more than willing to give you an opinion without backstabbing or ulterior motives.
“It’s all about helping each other by bringing each company and each apprentice through the jobs in a good light. We’re not here to throw each other down, we’re here to bring each of us up,” said one apprentice. “It is about being there for each other and knowing that if you have a problem, you’ve got back up.”
This philosophy of bringing each other up extends to the staff at the union training center, who are always available to help apprentices and are just a phone call away. Apprentices can get in contact with anyone at the school at any time, which they find this is a great stress reliever. Some of the first solo jobs where it’s just an apprentice and a unit can be nerve-wrecking. Apprentices always have a cell phone and the instructors are always there help you out with technical or emotional support.
During their five years at the training center, apprentices declare that all the teachers become family. Time and time again, they talk about how the teachers always have their phones on and they tell them to call if they have an issue that they can’t figure out.
In fact, the word “brother” becomes part of the dialogue in the union.
“A friend of mine who was in the union before me [begins] every conversation now…with ‘Hey Brother.’ I notice that with a lot of the guys,” said another apprentice. “I notice it more and more often.”
To become a member of the HVAC community, find the union Local closest to you.