In Sydney Australian, well actually the whole of Australia the CFMEU is the union that covers construction workers including the tower crane crews. They provide support for the workers should they get injured, loose their job and by negotiating wages and conditions with employers.
The main reason to join the union is for the higher negotiated wages that are provided, the extras are exactly that.
Here are a few arguments against unions that I have heard over the years...
The higher wages are passed on to the customer ect, the higher wages cause companies to go broke
The majority of construction I see occurring in Sydney is for apartments, almost all are sold prior to being constructed to foreign (Chinese, Japanese) investors with many being held and uninhabited by the investors to take advantage of property capital gains, tax free exemption for foreign investors and low cost of lending particularly in Japan. The developers and businesses and their charter is to maximize profit, if costs on their project were reduced by 5% or 50% that cost saving will not be passed on to the consumer, the same as if costs are increased by 5% or 50%.
FACT Apartments are sold for the maximum price the market will bear regardless of costs.
If a company goes broke often you will hear the same thing from the business owner "its the fault of the government/unions. The real reason is almost always the company was run poorly. When companies go broke work doesn't just disappear, more efficient companies take their place if the opportunity is there.
I can assure you that when the money from overseas apartment buyers dries up, the construction will slow down and people will be out of work. Make the most of it whilst it is there!
I remember a stage when cafe/restaurant workers wore no longer being paid extra for working weekends. Did prices for meals at these cafes and restaurants go down? Don't be stupid!
Unions promote mediocrity by making everyone be paid the same amount
True on an EBA every tower crane operator is paid the same rate.
On a non EBA site the better workers are rewarded with higher pay than the mediocre workers.
Here is a real life example.
A dogman working for a non union company gets paid $22 per hour, he has close to 10 years experience and is rewarded for that experience with higher wages, the other dogmen are paid $20 per hour.
On the union site all the dogmen are paid $38 an hour + higher allowances and benefits such as 24 hour accident insurance. So at the end of the day it is up to you, are you ok with being paid the same as everyone else or do you want to be a superstar on a mediocre team. There are a lot of Kobe Bryant's out there happy to work for less as long as they are paid more than all their team mates, perhaps its for their self esteem.
The union workers have a gang mentality
This makes me laugh, it doesn't make much sense but I had to add it, it was said to me by someone who wanted to work for a union company but he couldn't get a start due to 'racism'
Here is some good free advice, If you want to work for a union company where all the workers are union, make sure you are too otherwise you wont have work for long. As for a gang mentality I think he is mistaking gang for group or orginisation.
Unions take all your money in fees
The union fees are $290 for 6 months and for apprentices the costs are between 11 cents and $1.62 a week. Do the maths for yourself, if it is worth more that $580 a year to be in the union do it, if its not than dont. According to the CFMEU in the past year they have recovered $15.4 million in unpaid wages for their members, to those members it is probably worth the fees.
The main argument for joining the union is that 'the union is there to look after you'
I think the union could do a lot better in this regard. They look after workers in certain situations. The union should do more to help their members find work, unemployment and underemployment is a big issue in construction due to the cyclical nature of the work, most if not all jobs are projects of a limited duration and much of the work is casual with no job security. Ironically it is the people building the housing of tomorrow that are unable to purchase property due to the problems mentioned above.
At the end of the day, unlike a lot of other people I personally couldn't care less if someone is in the union or not. Its their individual call to make. Make your own call and do what is best for yourself, there are a lot of people that give advice so long as it benefits them, you have to look at the motives behind what people are saying.