➤ Why can’t our contractors compete? They are making tons of money right now. 

  • Union contractors face a lot of pressure in bidding for jobs. The bidding process is competitive, and developers and clients are often looking for the cheapest bid, not necessarily the best quality product.  
  • Because of the competitive bidding process, the biggest threat union contractors face is the underground economy. This means that cheating contractors, who are not signed with the union, undercut carpenters’ wages by hiring workers at cheaper rates, paying them unfair wages, and misclassifying them as “independent” workers rather than employees so they don’t have to pay out benefits to those workers. This puts our contractors at a serious competitive disadvantage when trying to win bids.
  • The Union fights these criminals civilly and criminally. The council has prevailed in these cases for millions of dollars and criminal contractors have been sent to jail and prison for their crimes.
  • Across the nation, the union construction industry currently holds about 14–18% market share. That’s a slim margin in a competitive market where cheaters are winning bids. We can price ourselves out of the market if union contractors can’t get bids because we are demanding wages and benefits that they simply can’t pay and still compete with cheating contractors.   
  • Right now, it’s very competitive, but when the economy slows down (and they will) that’s when more cheating competitors come out of the woodwork and the disparity will get a lot bigger a lot quicker. Criminal contractors cheat on prevailing wages, overtime, and fringe benefits to beat out union contractors.
  • The Seattle Core is not our only market in this contract. We have numerous contractors who consistently employ 10–30 carpenters year-round in smaller markets where non-union competition is high.

Did You Know?

UBC emblem and motto.

The official emblem of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America was adopted at the Fourth General Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio, August 1884. The motto inscribed therein, “Labor Omnia Vincit,” translated from Latin means “Labor Conquers All Things.” Learn More


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