Kudos to Tom Purcell for acknowledging the skilled trades in his column ‘Trading up’: Daughters, sons can build careers debt-free”. High school guidance counselors need to recognize the “other college”: Labor unions are the other option for obtaining the American Dream, without going into debt.
Research shows that not only do building trades members receive a family-sustaining wage, they also benefit from rich health benefits, pensions, savings accounts, training that earns college credits, and never having to go on another job interview or write a resume. These benefits are self-sustained by the members with no burden on the taxpayer.
Health care costs go up every year, along with training costs; labor unions do not look to the government for help with the rising costs. The increases are negotiated through collective bargaining with the employers that employ union members.
Those entering the workforce should seriously consider the building trades crafts, as should men and women in the trades who are being paid low wages and mediocre benefits.
I am proud to be a union member, and I am proud of the members I represent. I am also quite pleased that Purcell and many others see the value in the skilled trades and that we really are the blue-collar college.
The writer is business manager for Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union 354.