Union Realizes Its Labor Is Too Expensive, Actually Proposes Cutting Rates

Chicago’s electrical workers union is making ready to cut costs of its services with a unique solution to the high cost of its labor in this down economy.

At the bidding of the national office the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Chicago has announced a plan to add a new classification of workers who are less trained and will be paid lower wages but this new lower level of union worker has the more experienced members upset at what they think is a loss of work for them.

As Chicago Union News reports, the new scheme will offer a lower level of workers that have not gone through the five-year-long apprentice program. Union members that have completed the program feel threatened by the cheaper, less trained workers.

“If you start bringing in workers for 40 percent of what journeymen make, those journeymen are never going back to work,” said a Local 134 member who asked to remain anonymous. “If the contractors can get it done for less money, that’s what they are going to do.”

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For its part the union says that offering a wider range of workers at different rates will give employers more choice, increase union membership, and make their services more affordable to clients and contractors alike.

There has been no formal announcement of the actual pay scales being considered.

As an anti-union man, I have to say that this plan is not a bad idea if only it were to stay as is. My guess is that after a short time the lower level of workers will begin to see their pay scale raised steadily until the whole reason they were attractive employees in the first place is lost. But regardless of that slippery slope, it is an interesting answer to the current high cost of union labor. More interesting that it is the union itself offering the new idea.

This one is worth keeping an eye on.

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