Massive organizing efforts boost membership, despite COVID-19

At the start of the pandemic, the U.S. shut down businesses everywhere. Some workers were deemed essential by the Trump Administration. Plumbers were just one of the many industries that were deemed as essential.

The United Association Director of Plumbing Tom Bigley joined the AWF Union Podcast today to discuss how the UA grew their membership, even during the pandemic.

Work continues for UA plumbers

At the beginning of the pandemic there was a lot of uncertainty for workers. Especially for those who were deemed essential, as they were unsure how much of their job they could accomplish. Bigley explained that the UA has been hard at work during the pandemic and moving business along.

UA members were able to provide their services in commercial buildings, hospitals, and continue maintenance as they would normally. Based on how work went throughout the pandemic, Bigley remained optimistic about the future of their work and believes they will receive more work as their membership continues to grow.

Organizing blitz

Currently, the UA has approximately 370,000 members in the U.S. and Canada and those numbers are growing. Bigley said that while other unions are struggling to maintain their numbers, the UA continues to add more. This environment has been difficult to add members, but the UA is persistent in their efforts.

Bigley described the UA organizing efforts as an “organizing blitz.” He said that the UA would bring a couple hundred members into a city to canvas the area and look for open-shop contractors and other non-unionized workers and try to get them to join. Highlighting the apprenticeship programs, good benefits and steady employment are just a few reasons why the UA encourages people to join.

Plumbers 911

Lastly, Bigley talked about Plumbers 911, an emergency plumbing service that does work in commercial and residential buildings. As they continue to get more and more members, Bigley hopes that Plumbers 911 can break into the residential market in every state.



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