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I need a union job
Old 08-20-2007, 03:01 PM   #1
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I need a union job

So a buddy visited this weekend from the Bay Area. Now, I understand it's expensive up there, but it's not that much more than San Diego. What's "that much more" you ask? I am completing my MS right now, work in a pretty technical ( IT Security) field for a high tech company etc. I get 75k base plus some extended compensation that pushes me a little north of 80k. He is a "stationary engineer" and from as far as I can tell from his stories, involves some simple plumbing work, unstopping drains, putting up cube walls, boiler room watch, that type of thing. No degree. He was just bumped to 91k and is getting 8-10% raises annually.

I pay over 200 a month for day care. He pays nothing. I pay 1.5% towards my pension. He pays nothing towards his. He gets 80% in retirement to my 50%.

He also can work as much overtime as he wants for 1.5 times pay. Does it when he wants to buy a new guitar.

Am I missing something here? Am I stupid for going to college? How do I get in on this gig?
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Old 08-20-2007, 03:13 PM   #2
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Kind of reminds me of the old joke:

After finishing fixing the doctor's stopped up sink in 20 minutes, the plumber presents the doctor with the bill.

Doctor: "Gee, that works out to more than I make per hour."

Plumber: "I know. I used to be a doctor."
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Old 08-20-2007, 03:19 PM   #3
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Laurence:

Ask him about his pension and retiree medical. That should get you going.
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Old 08-20-2007, 03:21 PM   #4
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Form the CNNMoney.com online calculator...


Salary in San Diego CA:
$80,000
Comparable salary in San Francisco CA:
$92,692.31

If you move from San Diego CA to San Francisco CA...
Groceries will cost:22.531%more
Housing will cost:21.015%more
Utilities will cost:9.006%lessTransportation will cost:1.067%more
Healthcare will cost:4.604%more
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Old 08-20-2007, 03:31 PM   #5
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what's money when you can have prestige.
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Old 08-20-2007, 03:48 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by laurencewill View Post
He is a "stationary engineer" and from as far as I can tell from his stories, involves some simple plumbing work, unstopping drains, putting up cube walls, boiler room watch, that type of thing. No degree. He was just bumped to 91k and is getting 8-10% raises annually.
When you become an EVP before you ER (as seems plainfully clear to anyone who's watched you do your thing or read your posts about work) then you'll have to see if you can hire him as your firm's facilities manager.

Or maybe he'll ask you to consult on securing his computer networks, and you can grab some of those bennies for yourself...

Perhaps there's a reason that he's more highly compensated. I wonder what's the first thing that companies cut back on during recessions-- computer network security or facilities maintenance? Hmmmm, which one generates contracts, revenues, & profits?
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Old 08-20-2007, 03:56 PM   #7
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The thing is, I know he is working hard, but I've got buddies here at work who have his job, and because our salary grades are common knowledge (i.e people know job x is salary grade y) I know they can make no more than 50k. Trick is, we aren't union.

Yeah, his health and pension are amazing.

If his setup is really sustainable, then by all means, let's get everyone into unions! I could care less if I make only the median income, if it's mucho $$$ in real money it's all good! I just can't imagine that it is sustainable, that at some point this has to fall apart...

....I try not to be affected by the green eyed monster, couldn't help myself. Thanks for the kind words Nords, but I really think if I get this supervisor job in my old position for ~100k I really will call it good, do a good job for a couple decades and check out.
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Old 08-20-2007, 04:07 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by laurencewill View Post
...as far as I can tell from his stories, involves some simple plumbing work, unstopping drains...
Think about it. Are you willing to trade the kind of crap you put up with at your work for the kind of crap he puts up with at his? Ever see "Dirty Jobs?"
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Old 08-20-2007, 04:16 PM   #9
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So, what is stopping you from applying for a job where he works?

If you don't really want to do that, then maybe you can't really say he has it better - can you?

-ERD50
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Old 08-20-2007, 04:24 PM   #10
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I've been on both sides of the union controversy. When I got out of high school I worked at a zinc die casting shop with no union. The dies sprayed everyone with liquid zinc (I think 600 degrees F) when they leaked - several times a day. I asked the boss why no guards. His reply - takes too long to remove and replace when casting machines are serviced. Ditto with fork lift with no brakes, electric fans running in standing water, presses with safety guards over ridden.

Fast forward 10 years - working as an engineer at Megacorp with unionized trades. I had a thermostat removed from my office leaving a hole. Called HeVac guys - not their problem, called electricians, not their problem, called carpenters- ditto. I hung a picture over the hole and it is probably still there.
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Old 08-20-2007, 05:35 PM   #11
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So, what is stopping you from applying for a job where he works?

If you don't really want to do that, then maybe you can't really say he has it better - can you?

-ERD50
Well, actually I'd consider it, but as with all union jobs, it's about time served. So I'd start at the bottom and in 5 years be where he is. I'm already far enough along this path that I'd take a pay cut. I also think job openings are hard to come by due to the high rates and are mostly locked up before they are officially posted. I definitely understand your point, it just doesn't stop me from feeling a little foolish/jealous. The time I spent in college he was earning good $$.
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Old 08-20-2007, 06:55 PM   #12
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what difference does it make. there are so many ways to get through the world. you don't need a union; you need a mirror. you need to learn to be satisfied with yourself. as long as you compare yourself to someone else you will never be happy with what or who you are. concentrate on your own life. compete with your own self and you win every time.
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Old 08-20-2007, 07:08 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by laurencewill View Post
So a buddy visited this weekend from the Bay Area. Now, I understand it's expensive up there, but it's not that much more than San Diego. What's "that much more" you ask? I am completing my MS right now, work in a pretty technical ( IT Security) field for a high tech company etc. I get 75k base plus some extended compensation that pushes me a little north of 80k. He is a "stationary engineer" and from as far as I can tell from his stories, involves some simple plumbing work, unstopping drains, putting up cube walls, boiler room watch, that type of thing. No degree. He was just bumped to 91k and is getting 8-10% raises annually.

I pay over 200 a month for day care. He pays nothing. I pay 1.5% towards my pension. He pays nothing towards his. He gets 80% in retirement to my 50%.

He also can work as much overtime as he wants for 1.5 times pay. Does it when he wants to buy a new guitar.

Am I missing something here? Am I stupid for going to college? How do I get in on this gig?

He does not get social security . The union people in california never paid ss taxes and do not recieve ss.
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Old 08-20-2007, 07:10 PM   #14
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you need to learn to be satisfied with yourself. as long as you compare yourself to someone else you will never be happy with what or who you are.
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Old 08-20-2007, 07:32 PM   #15
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She asked who I was gonna please with that itty-bitty thing, and I said "Me"...
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Old 08-20-2007, 07:47 PM   #16
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Most people do not answer the question, "What are you gonna be when you grow up?" with "I'm gonna join a union and have a decent wage and fantastic bennies."

I most definitely did not!

But I don't think he's suffering - and probably envies your status as well. Grass often looks greener "over there." Most stationery engineers I know are bored and as disgusted with their political structures as the next person. Were it not for the typically decent paycheck/often union perks, they'd be gone in a heartbeat.
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Old 08-20-2007, 08:38 PM   #17
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Union jobs are a special breed, supply is constrained so the rates rise to meet demand. It comes with a long term cost to the economy. You might stop and think for a minute about what factors caused the US auto industry (and domestic manufacturing generally) to have its lunch eaten by overseas competitors? Nowadays union jobs, especially "out West" are few and far between and mostly in the public or semi-state sector.

Every so often you hear talk about unionizing white collar occupations, but this will only accelerated the trend towards offshoring. There's really a very limited niche of jobs that "must exist locally" that can possibly be unionized.

Quote:
Originally Posted by laurencewill View Post
<snippity snip snip snip>

I pay over 200 a month for day care. He pays nothing. I pay 1.5% towards my pension. He pays nothing towards his. He gets 80% in retirement to my 50%.
Dude, I have more college education than you said you did, and over 20 years of professional experience in a white collar field that has a reputation of paying more than IT, and I get 0% towards my pension. Perhaps I should apply for your job, once you move over to the union shop.

I agree that the grass always looks greener, and the dog bonbons always remain unseen, until you actually cross that fence.
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Old 08-20-2007, 08:46 PM   #18
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My defense mechanisms say...

Which job would you rather have for 20 years. Which job would you rather have in 20 years?

The grass on the other side always is greener, because there's more $h!t.

-CC
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Old 08-20-2007, 09:48 PM   #19
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He does not get social security . The union people in california never paid ss taxes and do not recieve ss.
Some do and there are professional unions (white collar) also. Some are good and some are not so good.
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Old 08-20-2007, 10:03 PM   #20
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All good points. And I don't come home with an aching back, either!
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