Finding a Contractor: Hiring Union vs Nonunion Contractors

Maintenance, repair and construction jobs, whether building from ground up, renovation or any other skilled work, requires the right set of professionals. When a specialized worker is needed, facilities managers often must consider whether to hire union or nonunion contractors.

Many managers start with finding a contractor via personal referrals or online contractor directories. Here’s what to consider when conducting your search:

The Difference Between Union & Non-Union Contractors

Most commercial contractors are qualified and skilled in their particular avenue of work. One difference you may note, though: union vs. nonunion affiliations. Here’s how contractors may differ:

Union contractors are paid a fixed fee. They are usually highly skilled, reliable, accredited, and time-conscious, since most contractors must pass certain tests and qualifications to be admitted to a union.

A nonunion contractor may or may not have all this attributes. Sometimes, managers can be unpleasantly surprised by nonunion contractors who may not have high quality skills or work efficiently. Shoddy or inefficient work can take a toll on budgets.

Union contractors, because they have to be paid a certain fee, may ultimately work out to be more expensive. Union workers also have certain specialties and they may not be able excel at generalized work projects, which can also add to the project’s expense. A facilities manager looking to find a contractor should weigh the pros and cons of employing a union or nonunion contractor.

Deciding Between Union or Non-Union Contractors

Many private and government organizations require the employment of union workers for any building or construction work, as their credentials and licenses are more easily verified.

Many workers have worked as both union worker and nonunion workers and may be simply looking for any kind of work. As such, it may be entirely possible to get highly skilled contractors at reasonable pay rates.

How to Find a Quality Contractor

Look for certain qualities and qualifications in contractors. They should

  • Be experienced
  • Have the necessary qualifications, as required by state or federal law
  • Be licensed/registered
  • Have references
  • Have a local address
  • Claim membership in certain professional organizations
  • Be knowledgeable about the work
  • Have good communication skills

Check out references and view completed projects if possible. Before offering payment, have a signed agreement in place and see what kind of warranties the contractor offers. Decide on a budget and make sure that the contractor is responsible enough not to go over budget or leave the project incomplete. It is always a good idea to get a couple of bids from different people and go through all the details and fine print. Don’t hire a contractor who is soliciting business door to door, or asks for cash in advance.

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