Time for Tower Hands to Unionize?

Discussion in 'Climbing Towers' started by Andrew, Apr 12, 2012.

  1. Andrew

    Andrew Industry Observer

    I have no specific love for unions. Most of them are outdated and obstructionist to actually getting work accomplished. However, tower hands are being ripped off and trampled nationwide.

    I've been climbing towers since before cell phones.

    Yup, back in the old linesman belt days. Things are way different now. With the "Turf Contractors" sucking up most of the cash, I make less than the average nurse.

    These big contracting companies are monsters and it may take a monster to combat things back to some level of fairness.

    Can't wait for feedback on this..lol
    TowerGuy likes this.
  2. TowerGuy

    TowerGuy Friend of the Community

    I wish!! But unfortunately if we were to get fair wages, you know for having one the the most dangerous jobs in the world, carriers would just take it out of the consumers' pockets. Vicious cycle but I'm on board. I remember getting 40k to stack a monopole! If I'm shunned then I'll just open a disco in Ecuador. Taxes are dirt cheap. I'll keep a spot open for you Andrew just in case.
  3. Andrew

    Andrew Industry Observer

    The fact is the carriers are paying big money for these installs now. It's the " Turf Contractors" eating most of the pie and leaving crumbs for the guys actually doing the work.

    It could be compared to healthcare in China. Not many people know that the largest socialist country in the world doesn't have a socialized healthcare system. My step daughter had an accident where she received 2nd degree burns on 60% of her body.

    She spent 4 weeks in a hospital in Guangxi and got world class care. I paid for it in full, $4000. Here in the states that would have covered maybe 3 days. Why? because they don't have the middle man taking a 70% cut. (she is fine now).

    My thoughts are really focused on killing parasites. I don't think I'm allowed to name them in this forum, but, everyone in the industry knows who they are.

    I know unionizing might be like covering yourself in gas to keep ticks off. Just thought I'ld see what kind of ideas popped up from this.

    If "Frontline" ever gets around to airing "Cell Tower Deaths" (Which they told me is still in production and only postponed) it may help a little.

    A disco in Ecuador doesn't sound that bad. Thanks for thinking of me.

    Thanks TowerGuy. Be safe out there, brother.
  4. dking

    dking Industry Observer

    A tower company that has union tower hands, is a company that good chances are, will not be around in 12 months. Plain simply unions raise costs to where the employer can no longer compete. If you truely feel that you are being treated like crap, start your own company and treat the employees better then you were being treated. That's what I did and I'm doing pretty good at it.
  5. Andrew

    Andrew Industry Observer

    dking, I am happy for your success. You truly have my respect. However, realistically every tower guy can't start their own company. Personally that's not my thing. I'm a field tech and I like it that way.

    And the main point is not a single unionized company but rather tower hands united for a common cause.

    Just curious,are you contracting directly to a carrier or through a "turf contractor"?

    My personal opinion, a guy with 5 years of real experience should not make less than $25. per hr and an idiot like me that's been in the biz for 5 times that long should make a bit more.

    Tower guys go thru hell some times. We struggle to have any sort of normal life and suffer through some of the toughest weather conditions in the American labor force.

    All in all, I'm a conservative. I don't like unions. I just think that the companies (like yours) involved in the cellular infrastructure building should be making the bulk of the money. And I'm just trying to spark some dialog on the subject.

    Wouldn't you like to be able to pay your guys better without driving them into the ground? No pun intended.
  6. towertrash

    towertrash Friend of the Community

    I agree with you on something needs to be done. At the same time a union would only create more problems. I had left the industry and joined the local iron workers union. The rules they have are just dumb to say the least. At the same time the retirement packages were nice. This industry will never get back to where it used to be due to the "2 guys a rope and a truck" companies. They will keep the prices down. They aren't in this industry for the love of the job but just to pull a quick profit.

    The bigger middle-man companies will continue to screw the little guy. At least when they come to our city and want to work on any towers owned by the utility company they have to go through us and they stick it to them. Just like they do to everyone else. Hell I can still remember when a certain company use to laugh about the fact that they wouldn't pay the companies due to missing a photo or a paper not filled out correctly.

    As far as the show goes....they are still making phone calls to the guys talking in the film... So it might end up watered down and not shining a light on the big 3 anymore.
  7. Andrew

    Andrew Industry Observer

    Thanks for your responce "Towertrash". I'm at the end of my witts. I've gotten 3 job offers this week that were overt violations of U.S. labor laws. Where is law enforcement when you need'em.
    I don't know man, Grab a flag and occupy a tower..lol
    These jobs aren't worth leaving the family home alone anymore.

    If anyone has any ideas,please chime in.
  8. Harold Haycook

    Harold Haycook Friend of the Community

    I agree with all of your points. The biggest issue with some newer guys would be drug tests for union members. A lot of guys wouldn't pass. That is my biggest issue. I hire guys and pay high teens to mid 20's and get a lot of employees that fail entry level drug screening or the random testing we do. I wish there was some way to refime this industry. A lot of the issue are the unrealistic scheduled these carriers put on us. A union could actually comabt this to a point.
  9. Andrew

    Andrew Industry Observer

    Hi Harold. Thanks for your input. (You and I have spoken before.) I am not pro-union. Realistically if all tower guys went union it would probably crush your operation. Nobody wants that. I'm sure you wish you could pay your guys more than you are able to. And that is the real issue. Many construction companies don't have any options. All are hungry for work and need it to stay in business. Many resort to cutting corners and outright labor law violations.

    Turf contractors are eating up too much. I think the future will be better. Turf contractors are taking advantage of our country's current economic condition. They know that a lousy job is better than no job. It's a form of price gouging. With some luck we will get a real leader in the White House, one that is more business friendly.

    This is where the simple rules of supply and demand will begin to put things right. When other areas of construction in this country begin to grow, many companies will abandon the telecom industry as will many of the tower guys.

    I know this part to be true. I was recently working with a master drywaller with a climbing belt on. What man is going to leave their family for a week to 6 weeks at a time for $15 bucks an hour if there were other options.

    Currently the hands on guys and companies are getting screwed. I hope we can all hang on until things right themselves.

    Maybe if there were a way for tower construction companies (though competitors) could band together into some sort of network.

    If I could count the times I heard somebody say, "you couldn't get me up there for a million dollars", a streak of embarrassment runs through me knowing I make just over $20 per hour after more than 20 years in the industry. I know a girl that works in a hospital, no formal training beyond OJT that makes $25 per hr.

    She works a simple 40 hour week, drives home for lunch. She is at home with her kids by 4:30 every day, works no weekends, has a good 401K, paid holidays, full medical benefits. Compare that with the average tower guy and the life he leads.

    If America only knew. It's my opinion that "Frontline" are criminals for not airing their documentary. I wonder how many turf contractor employees have died in the line of duty in the last 10 years. Maybe a couple in traffic accidents, maybe.

    Again, just fishing for ideas and keeping a dialog going. Hang tough brother and keep your guys safe.

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