General FAQs

General Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Union?
As a member, who sets my wage rate?
How much are union dues and why do I have to pay them?
What Local should I join?
Do I have to reapply/rejoin if I move to a new town or state?
Will I have to strike?
What is an apprentice?
Who can be a carpenter apprentice?
How much do training classes cost?
Is there training available for journey level workers?
What are area standards?
My friend says unions are a thing of the past, is he right?
Why was the Union demonstrating at a project in my town?
My friend says unions are just in it for themselves, is this true?

What is a Union?
A labor union is a group of working men and women who agree to stand together for better wages, working conditions, and benefits. By standing together and bargaining collectively with employers, workers gain the power to negotiate a fair wage for their labor, this is a power that individual workers do not have. Through unity, workers can insist on a fair wage, health care benefits for both themselves and their families, pension benefits for security in retirement, safe job sites, and training for tomorrow's work force.Back to Top

As a member, whos sets my wage rate?
Rates are negotiated between contractors and the New England Regional Council of Carpenters through collective bargaining. Members have the final say when a vote is conducted to ratify the agreement. Back to Top

How much are union dues and why do I have to pay them?
Union dues cover the cost of running the union, which is a nonprofit organization. All union operating expenses are voted on by the membership to ensure accountability. The amount varies from one Local to another. Dues and initation fees you pay for union membership are a tax deduction. Learn more about tax deductions here. Back to Top

What Local should I join?
We recommend you contact and join the Local Union nearest your home. The success of a union is based on active members and you are more likely to be active if your Local Union is near your home. To find the Local closest to you, enter your zip code in the Find My Local search at the top of the screen.Back to Top

Do I have to reapply/rejoin if I move to a new town or state?
As part of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, NERCC members who move may transfer their membership from local to local anywhere in North America six months after becoming a member of the Brotherhood. Your local dues must be current to transfer.Back to Top

Will I have to strike?
Most labor disputes are concluded without strikes or lockouts.Back to Top

What is an apprentice?
An apprentice is someone who is learning a trade by working under the guidance of skilled workers of that trade, called journeymen. It is on-the-job training. You earn while you learn, and are paid a wage from the first day you become a working apprentice. Today, many women are training as apprentices, too. As an apprentice your wages will start at approximately 50% of the journeyman rate of pay and will increase periodically until you reach the full journeyman scale.

In addition to on-the-job training, you receive classroom and workshop training. Training is anchored at the New England Carpenters Training Center. Apprentices attend classes for 1 week every 3 months, a system designed to accommodate the needs of contractors and apprentices alike. The courses build from instruction of basic skills like math and geometry to programs that teach the use of leading industry technology and products.

It usually takes four years to become a journeyman. But, remember, the training costs you nothing! Back to Top

Who can be a carpenter apprentice?
Any woman or man meeting the minimum requirements! Apprentices must be at least 17 years old and in good health. A physical may be required. S/he must pass a drug and alcohol test during a 90-day probationary period. A high school diploma or GED is required.Back to Top

How much do training classes cost?
All training courses are offered to our members for free. In some cases, a $25-$30 deposit may be required for registration. Such fees are refunded upon successful completion of the class. To see the upcoming training schedule visit NECarpentersTraining.org. Back to Top

Is there training available for journey level workers?
Yes! Our training programs have grown with our union by combining journey worker upgrade classes with the traditional apprentice programs. By taking advantage of training programs throughout their careers, carpenters keep their skills sharp and become more valuable to employers. Upgrade classes are free to members and conveniently scheduled at local training centers and during off-work hours. For a complete schedule of upcoming training opportunities, visit NECarpentersTraining.org. Back to Top

What are area standards?
In seeking to establish high standards for all carpenters in the industry, the New England Regional Council of Carpenters works to set minimum standards for wages and benefits. These standards include a wage and benefit package that is fair and equitable to both carpenters and the contractors employing them and is established in accordance with economic conditions in each area. Attempts to undercut area standards hurt the ability of the industry to attract and retain skilled crafts workers. The Carpenters Union’s fight to protect area standards is at the very heart of our mission. Back to Top

My friend says unions are a thing of the past, is he right?
Through the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, workers have a fair say in their wages and benefits. The United Brotherhood of Carpenters set the standard - without this - non-union bosses would set wage rates - making it impossible for workers to earn a living wage. Back to Top

Why was the Union demonstrating at a project in my town?
When the union learns that contractors are not meeting area standards for carpenters, we alert the general public and those in the industry through various activities, including demonstrations and/or bannering. We think it’s important for the public to be aware when businesses operating in their communities are undermining the standard of living for carpenters because such activity can have a broader negative impact on the community. While those identified through such activity may not appreciate it, we feel their violation of area standards more than justifies any shame or embarrassment they may experience. Back to Top

My friend says unions are just in it for themselves, is this true?
The mission of the Carpenters Union is to raise the standards for wages, benefits and working conditions for all carpenters. While most recognize this effort through collective bargaining and representation of members on jobsites, there is much more. The union regularly talks to and educates carpenters on their rights. We encourage them to advocate on their own behalf and serve as their voice when they are unable. And we fight for laws and enforcement efforts for those not protected by a collective bargaining agreement.Back to Top