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If you had the ability to join any union you wanted with all the the knowledge needed what would you get into?

If you had the ability to join any union you wanted with all the the knowledge needed what would you get into?

Thank you comment icon This is a super interesting question. Just to be clear: I'm assuming that you have not yet picked a skilled trade yet, so you're not just looking to hear about how someone would go about choosing a union, but I think you are ALSO looking to hear how someone would go about choosing the trade together with a union. We'll try to find someone to get you some great advice on this fascinating question! Jared Chung, Admin BACKER

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Gurpreet’s Answer, CareerVillage.org Team

Hey John,

We contacted Josh who works in the at the Oregon AFL-CIO. This is what he said:

The way I would answer this question is to choose a career that fits you. Something that you want to do that is exciting to you, and you could envision yourself doing until you retire. Then find the union that normally represents that type of work and ask them questions you may have about that career to gather some information and find out if it is right for you.

There are unions that represent every type of career imaginable and a quick internet search will reveal unions that represent workers in the career you want to explore. For example, if you wanted to be an actor, you could search the internet for "which unions represent actors" and find that the Actor's Equity Association (AEA) and Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG/AFTRA) both represent workers in these professions.

If you're thinking that being a pilot would be an interesting career your search would find that the ALPA is the largest union that represents pilots. Craftsman careers like Electrician or a Plumber would return results for IBEW - International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (electrician) - and The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada, in short UA for plumbers.

There are careers represented by unions that require secondary education like teachers, nurses, or engineers and others that use apprenticeship models like carpenters, painters, and pipefitters. So pick a handful of things that interest you and you would like to explore as a career and research which unions represent those careers. Then write down a list of questions you may have and reach out to those unions locally. Most unions have local representatives designated by a local number like UA 290, IBEW 48, AFSCME Council 75.

Questions you may want to know are things like - how would I join their union, what skills should I acquire now if I chose this as my career, what are the requirements for this career, what process would they recommend to get those requirements, how hard is it to get into this occupation, what does a normal work day entail, who are the employers, are any union employers in my area, would this career allow me to work in another state, what is the average wage and what type of benefits should I expect (healthcare, 401k, pension, etc.).

As part of your information gathering, you may also want to talk with your counselors and local worksource centers to find out, among other things, if these types of careers are growing or shrinking. You may know someone in this occupation or know someone who knows someone that you can connect with. Online forums and Youtube are good secondary sources.

If you want to explore the various apprenticeship programs Oregon's Bureau of Labor and Industries is a great place to start. You can find that information here. For secondary education careers there is also a great site through the US Census Bureau called PSEO which provides search data for wages and occupations by types of degree education achieved. You can find that link: https://lehd.ces.census.gov/applications/pseo/?type=earnings&specificity=2&state=41&institution=00318900&degreelevel=03&gradcohort=0000-5&filter=50&compare=postgrad&program=24,51

Hope this helps and best of luck!
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Natalie’s Answer, CareerVillage.org Team

Hi John,

I reached out to some folks who are really familiar with unions, and this is what a Senior Policy Fellow at the University of California at Berkeley’s Labor Center said in response to your question:

It might seem like a simple question, but it's a pretty complex answer because unions are different from local to local, even within the same city or state, there can be multiple local unions for the same type of workers and one of those unions might be great, one might be mega and one might be bad. I don't think there's a quick answer. In my most recent book, A Collective Bargain, I outline a process for how workers should go about picking a union.

I'm sorry it isn't a more specific answer, but at the very least, hopefully helpful to know that there is a ton of variety and you are asking a really important question! Good luck to you.
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