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Unionized and Non-Unionized Construction Part 1

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Employee turnover is a very real concern for employers and employees alike in the construction industry. Since the market demand for construction follows unpredictable trends and is largely triggered by local factors, it can be difficult to keep workers busy, which can lead to layoffs. Unfortunately, when business starts to ramp up again and contractors finally call upon more workers to assist with projects, there’s often a lack of skilled workers available.

As an employer, you value flexibility when dealing with your workforce as the volume of available work fluctuates, but being overly cavalier about your hiring practices could cause trouble down the road. Your workers may attempt to usurp this flexibility by joining a labor organization. Naturally, it’s in their best interest to align with other like-minded workers, but this can be detrimental for employers.

In this two-part series, the South FL contractor lawyers at Cotney Construction Law will discuss the challenges of unionized and non-unionized construction. Remember, whenever you’re having difficulty dealing with your workers, it’s always best to have an experienced attorney on your side to ensure that you are staying compliant with all relevant labor laws.

The Nature of the Construction Industry

The construction industry labor force is a complex web of specialized crafts. When contractors hire workers, they often cherry-pick from the labor pool to account for all of their needs. Employers rely on these workers to perform important tasks, but as objectives change and new projects are spearheaded, these needs can shift. This gives many workers the incentive to unionize. That said, both unionized and non-unionized operations can function successfully with strong leadership. The number of unionized workers can shift significantly over the years depending on working conditions in the industry. For instance, one extensive study published by Carnegie Mellon University cites a 40 percent decline in union members over an 8 year period in Australia.

Unionized vs. Non-Unionized

In part two, we will breakdown the many differences between unionized and non-unionized construction, but first, let’s cover their basic definitions:

Unionized Construction: craft unions collaborate directly with contractors to cultivate the use of unionized workers through an array of market institutions including jurisdiction rules, apprenticeship programs, and the referral system.

Non-Unionized Construction: otherwise referred to as “open shops,” non-unionized construction does not carry the burden of working within the confines of a collective bargaining agreement, but can still be affected by non-union contractors’ associations.

If you would like to speak with a South FL contractor lawyer, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.