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How Union Operators Can Save Their Jobs

Updated: Jul 4, 2019

For anyone who knows me, I tell it like it is. My company creates customized training videos for plant facilities operators, most of who are union workers. I go into all types of facilities residential, commercial, hospitals, power plants, and even ships where we video the training on new and existing equipment. When I go to owners and manager to convince them why videoing the training is necessary, one of the most consistent feedback I get is, "Why should we invest in training? It’s not like they’re going to watch it anyway?" I can’t tell you how much this infuriates me. Sometimes I'm left in a situation where I don’t know what to say.

If you’re a proud union working Superstar who works within Facilities and Operations you will want to share this video with fellow co-workers because the future of this industry requires more honesty, integrity, and leadership. If you don’t see these core values in your facilities right now, just know that those who helped formed the labor unions must have possessed at least one. My intention for this video is to hopefully bring out as many of these values as possible so that you can do your part to help better the reputation of union workers. Now if what I’m about to say bothers you, it’s probably because you fall in one of the categories that’s hurting this industry and adds to the negative stereotypes that gives the union workers a bad name.

My dad, who was a union worker, passed away at 41, when I was 15. He was by-far one of the most reliable and dedicated workers I knew. He never missed a day, was always willing to work, and ready to learn new things. I think because of his work ethic and him passing away so soon, I’ve alway felt connected to this industry. It’s what made me decide to be an engineer and to work in this industry. Over the years, when I’d meet union workers in the field, I always felt proud to share with them that my dad was also a union worker, and immediately would earn respect among his union brothers.

Years later, when I shifted to a management position, I’d hear other managers talking about how lazy and complacent union workers were, it would upset me because the only image of a union worker, I ever had, was my hard working dad. But as I visited more facilities, I started seeing what other managers saw and although it would sometimes kill my spirit, and sometimes question my mission, I never let it interfere with my responsibility to help see this industry thrive.

I noticed some union workers looking for ways to do as minimal as possible, push work off on to others, leave early, and just spend more time trying to find ways to beat the system rather than doing their job. It started becoming more and more difficult to defend this infectious behavior. What bothers me the most, is when I hear about union workers, within facilities, taking their jobs for granted. I feel like they are literally pissing on the opportunities they now have from all the years that it took to help build what we have today.

Labor Unions were created in order to help workers with low pay, unsafe or unsanitary working conditions, long hours, and other situations. Have the many years of contract negotiations and fighting for union workers improved the work environments? Absolutely! Unfortunately are there now many who are taking advantage and abusing it? Yeah!

In every organization there are typical categories of employees: the superstars which I believe most of you out there are the workers and the slackers but in the union there are additional categories that exist and because of the protections that were originally created to help unions, the union workers who abuse it, I believe, will eventually ruin it for all.

You have to watch the video if you want to learn about the additional categories. 

Why am I ranting about this? It's because I was having a conversation with a supervisor of union workers at a power plant in NYC. Not only did he tell me about the different categories of workers he deals with but he also told me how difficult it was when he had to write up individuals for the not doing the requirements of their job to keep the plant safe. Sometimes to not deal with the union grievance committees and the fear of creating a negative workplace environment, where the facility union employees will take advantage of the system even more, he like most supervisors, just let it slide. If you want to save of union workers future in the facilities and operations industry, encourage your fellow union workers to do their job, I know no one wants to be a rat but do you understand the world we are living in today where technology is advancing faster than you can change your underwear?

When I go into facilities and talk to union operators, I let them know how important their jobs are. The Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, and Fire Systems within buildings and facilities are like to blood vessels in your body. Although you may not see them on a daily basis, they are so critical to your life. Plant engineers and operators are like Facilities Doctors and Technicians who keep the lights on, the water running and keep the people comfortable with heating and air conditioning.

I let union workers know the impact of them not doing their job and how it not only affects the safety of the plant but everyone who depends on the operation of it. Like a hippocratic oath a doctor takes, facility operators too hold a required responsibility. Yes of course when routine maintenance tasks are not performed it decreases the life of the equipment but here’s the real reality. If funding is spent on purchasing equipment, they have pay for operators to maintain and operate it, and when it gets damaged or its useful life cycle is minimized due to neglect and lack of performing required maintenance, and they have to spend money to replace it, why do they need you? Why do they need anyone to actually maintain it when they’re going to replace it anyway?

Especially if you’re gonna hide out  from doing your job, abuse the overtime, and try to beat the system to collect workmans comp? These are the factors that’s driving automation and the truth is, if things work well there’s no reason to fix it. But right now we have a broken system and if the Union Leaders turn a blind eye to the existing industry problems, the future of this industry may be the next Blockbuster, or Toy R’ us. Don’t let the slackers, scammers, and overtime hounds kill this industry. It is your responsibility to remind your peers of the foundation that Labor Unions were created on: honesty, integrity, and leadership. I’m depending on you to do your part to help save it!

OEL the company who manufactures safety gear and this ARC Flash Safety suit I’m wearing, reached out to me and asked me to check out their product. They’re a little more expensive than typical safety gear but I told them yes that if I like, it I’d wear it on my next video. Why? Because it’s made in the USA and I care about jobs here in the USA.

Please do your part to help save the union jobs within facilities and operations. I encourage you to share this video because the future of this industry depends on it.

Let’s make this Industry Great Again!

Enhanced Building Solutions LLC (EBS) offers mobile training solutions for all industries. Training staff to operate buildings efficiently is necessary. EBS offers consulting and coaching services, virtual walk-throughs, custom technical training videos in mini navigable clips, in addition to online learning. Our training methods provide consistent information, saves on employee turnover, and minimizes liabilities. Nothing will ever replace hands-on learning but blending it with online learning will create an ultimate training solution. Are you ready to be a pioneer in the industry?

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