Rope Access Workers UnionRope Access USA
Do rope access technicians need a union?
This question is debated among rope techs all over the country but would we really benefit from a union?
Unions are put in place to protect workers, give fair wages, and make the workplace safer. However some non-union employees complain that unions can be detrimental to a companies’ growth, and that many people abuse the benefits of being in a union. So one has to wonder… as a rope access technician, over the lifetime of your career, would a rope access union be beneficial? Will you earn more and will your career progress?
The rope access industry is steadily growing in the US, following the trend worldwide. Europe, Australia and Asia have seen huge growth over the past 5 to 10 years. Customers a realizing that Rope Access is not only the safest and quickest from of access but also the cheapest. For example in the Middle East; the United Arab of Emirates has moved to outlaw the use of swing stages & BMU’s (Building Maintenance units) in places such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi; places where Rope Access is big business and the preferred method of access. For once we in the US aren’t the trend setters but with commercial usage of Rope Access becoming more and more prominent along the Eastern seaboard it won’t be long before the rest of the country follows suit and ropes are being dropped from roof tops nation-wide.
As Industrial Rope Access becomes more prominent and well known and people no longer give you those funny looks when you tell them what it is you do for a living… “You hang from what?” the question of a union will soon come up.
The Pros of being in a rope access union
- Health benefits – Most (if not all) unionized workers are entitled to extended health and medical benefits. Not only are you potentially covered for hundreds of thousands of dollars over your career, but you’re also protected by the union in that your job seems more secure if you have to take extended leaves due to illness.
- Job security – It’s pretty tough to get fired when you’re part of a union. You have to do something fairly spectacular to get canned.
- Higher wages – Perhaps the most important of all the benefits of a union is the fact that you’re likely to get paid better. Unions have teams of wage specialists studying the market to ensure everyone is getting paid properly.
The Cons of being in a rope access union
- Strikes – The recent refinery strikes in California are testament to this. Seldom do we agree on everything and you might not agree with a strike but if you want to stay part of that union you had better not cross that picket line. Most unions offer financial help for essential bills, but no wages means you’re probably going to have to say goodbye to those football and baseball cable packages.
- The wrong people get rewarded – You might break your back for your employer but Billy Bob might not give a rat’s ass if the company is performing or not and he may get paid more than you.
- It can hold you back – seniority plays such a huge role in unionized environments. Sometimes the best person for the job gets passed over because they don’t have enough seniority.
Rope access union starts with you
Those are just a few of the arguments for and against unions. This question will come up over and over again in the not so distant future. It’s definitely something for Rope Techs to consider as you will be the ones to decide.
Rope Access USA will run a poll soon but in the meantime give us your thoughts below.