View Full Version : Landscaping Unions?

Lawn Wizard
07-31-2001, 01:28 AM
I was wondering if anyone here has heard of a union for landscapers or lawncare workers? Or does any owner run a union shop?

07-31-2001, 01:36 AM
Lawn Wizzard,

I am in a Union for my PT job. I work for a Supermarket. Everything is just great. However, on a whole, the "Landscaping Workers" get paid very well (IMHO) and often don't need or want bennys. 90% of those who would want a Union aren't even US citizens! Unions work in certain work areas, I don't think Landscaping is one of them. Granted, there are a few big Landscaping companies out there that are Union, and they get the "BIG" Union-Only jobs, but for the most part it is a right to work job. Meaning that there are more workers available then there are jobs.

07-31-2001, 01:38 AM
In NYS we call union shops a Labor Union today. Back in the 50's they called them the Mafia. :cool:


Lawn Wizard
07-31-2001, 01:46 AM
However, on a whole, the "Landscaping Workers" get paid very well (IMHO) and often don't need or want bennys. 90% of those who would want a Union aren't even US citizens!

I am seeking information on the topic of Lanscaping/Lawncare unions regarding if there is such a thing and if anyone has information about it, not peoples opinions on the subject
Thank you.

07-31-2001, 01:50 AM

BTW, the Mafia is very much a part of todays Labor Unions. The 1970's were the heyday of Unions, not the '50's. Some Unions are still very powerful, while most are just hanging on by threads. I belong to the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. Every Supermarket (there are a lot more than you think) that is Union belongs to this union. My dues are $11 per week, but they fight tooth and nail for our bennys and wages everytime a contract comes up.

I feel that, as a business owner, (as most here are) a Strong Landscapers Union would seriously harm our bottom line. I'm on both sides of the fence on this subject. I've seen many a good company go under due to organized labor Unions.

Lawn Wizzard,

Why would you want info on a Landscapers Union? Are your workers threatning you with going Union? As a business owner, you may as well shoot yourself in the foot, then let your employees join a labor Union. Do a search on http://www.aflcio.org and check to see how many Landscape Unions there are.

07-31-2001, 02:11 AM
Thom are you affiliated with WAWA or TURKEY HILL???

I too believe that these strong holds that can be put upon those of a union or forcefully implemented are of no beneficial value to those who belong to these organizations.

I have seen many many sites shut down because a non-union company is doing the work that unions could be doing. Im not familiar with the logistics but I know that it seems to be a mixed site more often than not of union shops and non-union laborers.

Lawn Wizard
07-31-2001, 02:24 AM
Im an owner/operator I was wondering about a union for the fact that when I do need to hire people I would like trained quality people that many trade unions provide. Also I think it would strengthen the professionals out there by putting pressure on all the scrubs just like the plumbers or electricians or laborers. I think it would be great to have a union maintained lawn its a sign of quality.

I have no problem payin workers a fair wage for the work performed but as you stated most lawnscaping workers are well payed so what would be the difference cost wise? I guess I have a different out look on being the "boss"

As for the union you belong to The SEIU (United Food and Commercial Workers Union) is an industrial union which is a bit different than a trade union.

Hows this for a Slogan: Lawn Wizard "Nature Made, Union Maintained" I like it!:p

Richard Martin
07-31-2001, 04:38 AM
Lawn Wizard,

A few thoughts on a union and landscape/lawn service.

First off, a union does not garantee that you will have a quality labor pool. What they usually garantee is that you will have qualified workers. There is a difference.

Second, where would you get enough American workers who are willing to work for the low wages that LCOs usually pay? One of the goals of American unions is to protect American jobs and that means not hiring forgein workers. A huge portion of the present LCO labor force is forgein workers, often illegal ones.

Third is related to second. The bigger companies that post here on Lawnsite report that their profit margins are already low. In the 10 to 15 percent range. If you unionize one of these companies where are they going to find the money to be union? It's not cheap. Besides the fact that union workers are often paid considerably more than their non-union counterparts they also have benny packages that would cost far above what little money larger LCOs are making.

Your answer to 2 and 3 above is that LCOs will have to raise their rates but that won't accomplish one of your goals of raising the bar for scrubs. Raising rates would actually make it easier for scrubs/low ballers to find work. As long as anybody with a mower can start a LCO and KMart sells riding tractors for $800.00 the rates cannot go up but a given amount and I don't think it would be enough to cover costs.

07-31-2001, 05:49 AM
When I took a couple of courses at Penn State he said that California had quite a few Union Landscape businesses. That was the only way they could secure a few of the big contracts.

07-31-2001, 12:43 PM
Leave the mafia out of this. We don't even exist!:mad:

07-31-2001, 02:05 PM
If you had a 5 man crew......

non-union = 5 men happy to be working

union = 1 man working 4 watching and crying about how bad they have it.


07-31-2001, 03:04 PM
I believe Racer Dave has hit it right on the head, one to work and four to whine. Unions will “cloud the water” at times, meaning good hard working people may get lost in a sea of people that do not want to work. As the owner of a company I would rather decide who to hire and fire then to let a union send me whosa we gots and just suffer through it.

Non- Union means people that want to do the work.

And before I get my A$$ eat out I did not say all unions are bad some are the hardest working bunch of folks I know.

If you don’t like it don’t let the door hit you in the (--) on the way out.

Lawn Wizard
07-31-2001, 04:06 PM
Thank you richard for your insite.

07-31-2001, 04:20 PM

Your crew of five would be a breach of the contract!

There would be eight men required for one crew. A crew and equipment would consist of... two (crew cab) trucks, two trailers, one carrying two mowers and one carrying two outhouses.

The following working conditions must be followed at all times. There must be two men coming, two men going, two men $hitting and two men mowing. If you encounter conditions other than those mentioned above...report them to your business agent!

07-31-2001, 05:03 PM
My brother works for the county. I give him heck about all their dumptrucks having to have four doors to get all the drivers onboard...:D


07-31-2001, 09:22 PM
I think what the origional poster was refering to were skilled trade unions. One of the most common and reconized ones are the construction trades; carpenters, plumbers, electricians, ironworkers, operating engineers...

Many of these unions are a source of labor for "union contractors". These unions will have a training program of some sort, and be able to provide "on demand" skilled labor to contractors. In exchange, the contractors have an agreement with the union regarding compansation, work envorioment, hours worked...

Not all unions are like the ones that the above posters have jabbed at. Many of the construction tradespeople are very hard, dedicated workers, perhaps doing harder, more dangerous, more physcally demanding work than mowing lawns.

07-31-2001, 10:39 PM
I was refering To "skilled trade unions" myself. Having been in and out of them for the last twnety or so years. The unions of our times are more interested in the mighty dollar than anything that might inhance someones skills. In fact, they have been slowly diluting the skills among all groups by dropping apprentice programs and/or continued learning for years. Then we have the whiners...


Lawn Wizard
07-31-2001, 11:30 PM
Then we have the whiners... Yeah and you guys keep posting here!

08-01-2001, 04:26 AM
Originally posted by cos
When I took a couple of courses at Penn State he said that California had quite a few Union Landscape businesses. That was the only way they could secure a few of the big contracts.
Your quite correct. Some of the work that is subed out by the City and County of San Francisco and City and County of Los Angles, the companies that perform the work thier workers have to be union members.(most of the time they are affliated with the teamsters) . All the cemeterie's gardners except for Cypress lawns(San Mateo County) are union gardners. Most LCO's pay close or exact union shop wages, just because we have such a high cost of living here(#2 or #3 in the U.S.) and the only way to attract workers.

Me, Unions only end up hurting the public. They drive up the cost of services and materials, thereby shutting down business. Unions do have a place, but as of late, I think they are asking too much money most of the times.


08-01-2001, 12:06 PM
If you are trying to find qualified labor/employees why not contact the trade schools that offer these courses. You may not find skilled, experienced help but they might turn out to be very good workers and have a fresh outlook on things and you would have the opportunity to train them as you saw fit.

08-01-2001, 12:17 PM
In the competitive workers marketplace, Unions serve no purpose other than to protect workers that shouldn't even have a job.

I remember my cousin(lazy druggie bastage) getting busted for smoking pot at a Ford plant here in Detroit. The company wanted to fire him for that, and his poor performace, but the union stepped in, saved his job, and forced Ford to pay for his drug rehab program. (yea, hes still a drughead, and ford is out a few thousand for the program, and is paying a crappy worker 60k a year)

Look at police Unions. It would take an act of god for a police officer to get fired. Even murdering someone gets them a desk job, or time off WITH pay.

Would you want a piece of crap working for you that you can't fire, or would have to pay rehab for? Screw unions.

08-01-2001, 12:23 PM
Well....................that's what I wanted to say but...........:angel:

08-01-2001, 12:27 PM
That's an excellent idea. You can also get college students that are working towards a green industry degree on a summer internship program. This is a good way to test out managemnent prospects..


08-01-2001, 12:34 PM
I'd go that route before I would the other.

08-01-2001, 02:32 PM
there was a time when unions were needed,big business was screwing the avg joe hard,walking all over the employee's rights, now I'd have to say most unions just let lazy,poor workers keep there jobs while driving up product or service cost. While a lot of union workers are hard workers the bad ones give them a bad name. I would go back to solo before i'd let my shop go union.

Mike Wall :blob2:

Lawn Wizard
08-01-2001, 02:48 PM
Well now I know everyones feeling on unions which doesnt answer any of my questions lol Thanks for nuthin:blob2:

08-01-2001, 03:01 PM
You were asking if it is possible to hire Union Landscapers to acheive a better looking job.

I will not beat around the bush....

NO !

I just don't know why you have such a hard-on for wanting to hire Union Workers? There isn't an industryor company owner out there that wouldn't give their left arm to UN-Unionize (if they could). Like I said, there are union Landscape co's and they cater to the Union only type. They fill this niche very well. However, it would never be benificial for you to just start one up to simply advertise to Mrs. Jones that you use Union help.

Thanks for nuthin ???

08-01-2001, 03:22 PM
You just got a length explanation to your question.

I believe the answer is "NO"

08-01-2001, 03:50 PM
lawn wiz, let us ask you a ?.

Why would you want a landscapers union?


08-01-2001, 07:44 PM
The problem he has is alot of landscape work in this area is union only! He's tring to find out if he can get good help thru the unions if he gets bigger. To answer his question no the landscape union Local 703 doesn't supply very good help (they say they do) If you do construction and have heavy equipment you'll need Local 150 operators (heavy equipment is considered a bobcat or larger) You will find all the better operators gone by april 1st so plan early. Then the headaches of paying all the bennies and paper work that go along with it. Is it worth it? You decide!

08-01-2001, 10:27 PM

Thankyou for clearing up the confusion. The way it was stated I thot he was wanting to start one. LOL
I didn't realize IL. was a closed shop state.


08-02-2001, 12:21 AM

In connection with Illinois, do you know the name Daley? ;)

-- Barbara

08-02-2001, 02:16 AM
ive been in the graphic arts field my whole life, i worked union and non union, by far in the non union environment the workers and management seemed to be much more happy. less bitching, more work being done, less hostility. seem to work more as a team than, "us against them"

08-02-2001, 08:02 AM
let's see how a union shop would work for a landscape operation.

each crew would need...

1, a teamster to drive the truck.

2, an operating engineer (equipment operator) to run the mower or the backhoe.

3, a laborer to dig holes with a shovel.

4, a foreman to tell them what to do.

in my experience, it all crashes when the truck needs to be moved and the teamster is on break. noone can run the equipment but the operating engineer and the laborer will file a greviance if anybody touches the shovel. and finally, the foreman can't do anything with any of them.


08-02-2001, 09:20 AM

Daley country, true true