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Bushlover
10-21-2008, 12:39 PM
I just wanted to get some of your thoughts on labor and operator unions in the landscape industry. We are currently weighing our options and trying to decide which way we want to take the company.

Thanks in advance for your opinions

Lawnworks
10-21-2008, 06:22 PM
unions??? The only unions I like come in a box of 50.

AintNoFun
10-21-2008, 07:11 PM
we are a union shop.. have a contract w/ laborers and operators. it has been a pretty good deal for us so far and opened up A TONNNN of new work... worth a shot if you want to do large commercial/govt work..

kaferhaus
10-21-2008, 09:26 PM
Huge mistake. Your competition will eat you for lunch.

Also contrary to the other poster, it will NOT give you any advantage in winning a large or govt job. It will do exactly the opposite because your costs will be higher and you're then at the mercy of goon telling your staff what to do.

Unions have driven jobs overseas by the millions and caused the american auto industry to budget billions for union mandated programs instead of being able to re-tool their factories to make more competitive products.

It all sounds good until it's time to pay the piper... our economy has been suffering from "pay the piper time" for a couple of decades

AintNoFun
10-21-2008, 09:46 PM
in nj/ny. YOU will not be allowed on a union job being a non union shop.. so that DOES give me an advantage. maybe not in nowheres,alambama there aren't strong unions but there is in nj.. and this guy is in chicago which is similar to ny/nj. If your paying prevailing rate on govt work, my union guys me the same what i would pay them if i were an open shop just paying rate. so how does that play out. also there is no goon, they gave all my current employees books, so i had no new hires! so do me a favor just cuz you think you have some knowledge you are sadly misinformed...


Huge mistake. Your competition will eat you for lunch.

Also contrary to the other poster, it will NOT give you any advantage in winning a large or govt job. It will do exactly the opposite because your costs will be higher and you're then at the mercy of goon telling your staff what to do.

Unions have driven jobs overseas by the millions and caused the american auto industry to budget billions for union mandated programs instead of being able to re-tool their factories to make more competitive products.

It all sounds good until it's time to pay the piper... our economy has been suffering from "pay the piper time" for a couple of decades

AintNoFun
10-21-2008, 09:58 PM
eidted.. in nj/ny, YOU will not be allowed on a union job being a non union shop.. so that DOES give me an advantage. maybe not in nowheres,alambama there aren't strong unions but there is in nj/ny.. and this guy is in chicago which is similar to ny/nj. If your paying prevailing rate on govt work, my union guys cost me the same if i were an open shop just paying prevailing rate.. so how does that play out. also there is no goon, they gave all my current employees books, so i had no new hires! so do me a favor just cuz you think you have some knowledge and are misinformed dont start spewing it out.. were not talking about the autoworkers union or any other unions that have the real bad rap..

kaferhaus
10-22-2008, 07:17 AM
YOU will not be allowed on a union job being a non union shop

The guy never said he was "sub-contracting" for a "union job".

IF you want that kind of work and the associated expense, go for it. In most of the country a "union shop" can't even win a contract that's open to competitive bidding because their costs are too high.

If you unionize your shop what are you gonna do when you have to bid on non union jobs???? you're not going to win the bid.

And it's not just the auto workers union that have given unions a bad name, the teamsters and machinists unions are way up there. It's also why we have no textile plants in this country any more.

I was a union member many years ago, likely before you were born. I learned the only thing I got from a union was dues taken out of my check and being passed over for promotions because some idiot who couldn't, wouldn't do a good job had seniority over me.

Bushlover
10-22-2008, 10:16 AM
I have to agree with both of you on this subject so far, and that is why it is such a hard decision to make. Chicago is a very very strong union city. We are split about 70% commercial and 30% residential. It is getting to the point now where every commercial job that we are on we are fighting with the unions. I can get the job being a nonunion shop it is just a pain to get the material in the ground, lots of Saturdays and Sundays cramming stuff in the ground. I do believe that I could get a lot more work in the commercial side of things if we were union. The hold back is I cant charge homeowners union rates for installing a patio and some landscaping and compete against companies that are nonunion, it is hard enough to compete against the 2 Mexicans and a pickup that call themselves a landscaping company and charge a 1/3 of what I do because they have no overhead or insurance. So they hire them and 2 months later they are calling us to come either finish the job or fix all of the mistakes that 2 amigos and a truck messed up, and they wonder why it cost them more at that time than to have us do it right the first time. As for government jobs Aintnofun you are correct everyone is paying the same wage for the work it is just how much you want to make off if it that determines if you are going to get the job so if I am union or if I am paying prevailing wage it works out to be the same, so I am not to worried about those jobs all of the paperwork sucks but the money is good in them the only thing you have to watch out for is the payment. IL is hurting for money and they are very very slow payers. We have a underground company next to us that has been in business for 30 years brought in between 60 and 90 million a year that had to shut its doors because they got into the state for to much money and were not able to get a loan to carry them through because of the economy.

Aintnofun do you run maintenance crews as well and if you do are they in the union as well. In the talks that we have had with the union they want our maintenance guys to be in as well. With as cut throat as it is here I don't believe that I could be profitable at that kind of pay scale

little green guy
10-22-2008, 12:09 PM
bushlover, as far as nonunion work, you may be able to have a separate company set up nonunion out of the same shop. A friend of mine is an estimator for a large commercial painting company, the have union and non-union divisions so they are able to bid both ways.

aintnofun, was it difficult to get you current guys books?

AintNoFun
10-22-2008, 04:23 PM
bushlover, as far as nonunion work, you may be able to have a separate company set up nonunion out of the same shop. A friend of mine is an estimator for a large commercial painting company, the have union and non-union divisions so they are able to bid both ways.

aintnofun, was it difficult to get you current guys books?

not incredibly difficult.. but you have to watch having 2 shops.. i was told by a few contractors that have a union and open shop company that they have to have seperate owners, seperate location/phone, etc.. might not be worth the expense..




I have to agree with both of you on this subject so far, and that is why it is such a hard decision to make. Chicago is a very very strong union city. We are split about 70% commercial and 30% residential. It is getting to the point now where every commercial job that we are on we are fighting with the unions. I can get the job being a nonunion shop it is just a pain to get the material in the ground, lots of Saturdays and Sundays cramming stuff in the ground. I do believe that I could get a lot more work in the commercial side of things if we were union. The hold back is I cant charge homeowners union rates for installing a patio and some landscaping and compete against companies that are nonunion, it is hard enough to compete against the 2 Mexicans and a pickup that call themselves a landscaping company and charge a 1/3 of what I do because they have no overhead or insurance. So they hire them and 2 months later they are calling us to come either finish the job or fix all of the mistakes that 2 amigos and a truck messed up, and they wonder why it cost them more at that time than to have us do it right the first time. As for government jobs Aintnofun you are correct everyone is paying the same wage for the work it is just how much you want to make off if it that determines if you are going to get the job so if I am union or if I am paying prevailing wage it works out to be the same, so I am not to worried about those jobs all of the paperwork sucks but the money is good in them the only thing you have to watch out for is the payment. IL is hurting for money and they are very very slow payers. We have a underground company next to us that has been in business for 30 years brought in between 60 and 90 million a year that had to shut its doors because they got into the state for to much money and were not able to get a loan to carry them through because of the economy.

Aintnofun do you run maintenance crews as well and if you do are they in the union as well. In the talks that we have had with the union they want our maintenance guys to be in as well. With as cut throat as it is here I don't believe that I could be profitable at that kind of pay scale


no we dont run maintenance crews anymore. i was getting out of that end anyway so going union really made it final.. we did mowing work for a large utility company which i missed, but not to much. some of our contracts have mowing items in the bid, so we bid that at union rate. there is no doubt you wouldn't be able to do residential work with union guys you'd price yourself right out.. our state is horrible payers, but we will get paid.. we dont work for the govt alot mostly gc's who have bonds on the jobs.. i have had gcs go bankrupt, leave town, not pay etc. gone after there bonds and i have gotten paid. how many people in this business can say they will be paid 99.9% of the time, not many!





The guy never said he was "sub-contracting" for a "union job".

IF you want that kind of work and the associated expense, go for it. In most of the country a "union shop" can't even win a contract that's open to competitive bidding because their costs are too high.

If you unionize your shop what are you gonna do when you have to bid on non union jobs???? you're not going to win the bid.

And it's not just the auto workers union that have given unions a bad name, the teamsters and machinists unions are way up there. It's also why we have no textile plants in this country any more.

I was a union member many years ago, likely before you were born. I learned the only thing I got from a union was dues taken out of my check and being passed over for promotions because some idiot who couldn't, wouldn't do a good job had seniority over me.

we dont bid on non union work, so its simple. if we did your right we probably wouldn't get the job, but i dont want those jobs to begin with. dealing with flim flam builders, cheap gcs its not the market i want to be in! we really only do about 10% commercial work and all of that is union. you obviously have problems with the union for whatever reasons. you have your view i have mine. all i can say it has been a great move for our company, opened us up for a lot of very profitable work in the process.. i know more residential/commercial landscapers out of business or on there way out now then ever before. my suppliers tell me im there best and busiest customer all year. so gee i guess going union was a bad move!

eshreve1234
10-23-2008, 08:41 AM
To each thier own, thats why we all started working on our own was it not?

If my guys decided to organize, I would close up shop.

After being a CFO for a contractor, and dealing with six different unions, I have had enough.

Unions don't car about your co., or your employees, just the dues and bene's they collect. IMO.

Jarlo
11-11-2008, 12:30 PM
we are a union shop.. have a contract w/ laborers and operators. it has been a pretty good deal for us so far and opened up A TONNNN of new work... worth a shot if you want to do large commercial/govt work..

AintNoFun... I am an account manager of a landscape company in Camden County, NJ - how do you go about making your company union? Or, would you be able to direct me to a site with some information on it? We're just trying to weigh our options here so that we can generate more work for the winter.

Thanks

AintNoFun
11-11-2008, 01:29 PM
south jersery, your going to want to call laborers local 172

http://www.njlaborers.org/local/index.php3?action=display&union_number=172


then for running equipment skidsteers, dozers, etc youd have to call operators local 825

http://www.iuoe825.org/


but once you go union theres no going back, lol..

Jarlo
11-11-2008, 01:49 PM
Would you be able to give me a general overview on the process? Like I said, we're just trying to weigh our options - but I'm just wondering what the process is to go about doing this. Thanks dude.

PROCUT1
11-11-2008, 03:17 PM
Just be sure what direction you are taking your company.

I know Aintnofun.

It makes sense for him because of the type of work he does and the fact that his target market are the types of jobs that will have his company working on union and municipal projects.

Whereas, yes, technically an open shop would be allowed to bid.....An open shop will not get the job.

The headaches for the GC on the job would far outweigh the cost savings by going with a non union company.

Not to mention the "political pressure" that the non-union company would face. Especially in NY and NJ and other metro areas, union is the only choice.

If your primary business is going to remain maintenance, or residential/commercial midsized install work.....Then no...Union would not be a benefit...

But if youre going to play in the "bigtime".....If youre not union now....You will be shortly.

The type of work "aintnofun" does is not a little planting at your local walmart store.

Stillwater
11-11-2008, 03:21 PM
AintNoFun... I am an account manager of a landscape company in Camden County, NJ - how do you go about making your company union? Or, would you be able to direct me to a site with some information on it? We're just trying to weigh our options here so that we can generate more work for the winter.

Thanks

landscaping is considered seasonal so Tell me exactly what kind of landscape work goes on in the dead of winter in NJ. And man I am dieing to know exactly how would a union generate more of this landscape work in the snowy frozen winter?

AintNoFun
11-11-2008, 09:37 PM
procut pretty much hit the nail on the head.. no way you'll be able to do maintenance work and compete being union. def be priced right out of the residential market and most of the commercial market.. you would be pretty much limited to large commerical jobs that are union where you are competing against other union landscapers.. a landscape laborer makes roughly 46 an hour w/ bennies.. my operators have an 8 hour min. so if your job takes 4 hours your still paying for 8 and close to 60 an hour.. so theres ALOT of costs invovled and it will change the way your company will do business...


jarlo what kind of work do you guys do presently? how many guys do you have?


stillwater, we plant almost year round except for feb. unless the ground is really frozen.. we still do a lot of temp. seeding and stabilization throughout the winter as well.. my guys get laid off on average 1 or 2 months... it depends on the winter as well, if the GCs we work for our still working we are out there working if its a harsh winter and they aint working, were not wokring...

Midstate Lawncare
11-13-2008, 10:08 PM
if you are in a blue state... like Illinois, New Jersey or New York unions are a good thing (when you have to pay prevailing wages like on government jobs) but in red states.... good luck.... prevailing wage in Loiusiana for operators is $10 - $20 per hour... Illinois is $38 with bennifits. and you have to pay prevailing wage fro govt. contracts in Illinois at least.

Jarlo
11-16-2008, 09:39 AM
Thanks for the info guys.

Well, in the winter, I know business would probably be more geared towards hardscaping jobs - or at least I assumed.

Right now, we have 7 of us all together.

It's probably likely that we won't be going Union any time soon, if at all. I just wanted to collect some info and keep my options open.

Thanks again.

AintNoFun
11-16-2008, 12:51 PM
hardscape would be a lil tougher. youd most likey have to get the masons union involved and if you doing concret work forget it, every guy has there own task you you'd have a huge crew.. good luck either way though..


Thanks for the info guys.

Well, in the winter, I know business would probably be more geared towards hardscaping jobs - or at least I assumed.

Right now, we have 7 of us all together.

It's probably likely that we won't be going Union any time soon, if at all. I just wanted to collect some info and keep my options open.

Thanks again.

BrandonV
11-17-2008, 05:13 PM
we fortunately don't have many unions down here in the south it sounds like a mess. my crew can do hardscapes one day, plants installs the next and even irrigation to think you'd have to be in a different union for each just boggles the mind and the pocketbook. I can see where the detroit auto manufactures are having such a hard time right now, toyota and all the southern manufactures down here don't have any of that to mess with.

chatham landscape
04-23-2010, 08:48 AM
I have always wondered about this sort of thing, in the past I have been asked to perform this type of work, but hesitated. Could you explain it to me better. Like how the whole thing works. Are you more of subcontractors, or bid the jobs yourself?