Looking to join the HVAC & Refrigeration industry as a service technician? As spring rolls around and companies begin their hiring for the upcoming busy season, chances are you will find a growing list of jobs to apply for. But how can you tell which are the best HVAC companies to work for?
Here in NYC, you’ll find that union shops offer lucrative benefits that are hard to come by elsewhere. If you’re just getting started in the industry, or if you are working as a technician and not getting either overtime pay or the benefits you need for your family, it’s smart to consider joining a union shop. Here’s why.
8 reasons NYC union shops are the best HVAC companies to work for
1. The best medical and dental benefits, fully paid
Especially if you have a family, medical and dental benefits can be extremely expensive, to the tune of hundreds of dollars a month (at least). As a union member, you get excellent benefits that are FULLY PAID FOR by your employer.
That’s just about impossible to find outside of a union, and it’s one of the biggest reasons why union shops are the best HVAC companies to work for. It’s a benefit that’s worth a lot of money on top of your wages (not only the cost of private insurance premiums, but the value of the medical care you and your family receive).
2. Great pay and guaranteed raises
Entry level HVACR service technicians working through the union start at about $15 per hour, which might be a little bit less than you could get from a non-union shop. However, through the union you are guaranteed to get significant pay raises every year, and your wages rise quickly according to a negotiated schedule. After 4-5 years, you’ll be making more than $42 per hour.
It won’t take long for you to be earning more money than your non-union counterparts, plus earning all the other benefits mentioned here.
3. Overtime pay
When you work for a non-union employer, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be paid anything more than your regular hourly rate if you work more than 40 hours a week, or work on weekends or holidays.
As a union member, you’ll get paid time and a half (and sometimes double time) for overtime work. During the busy season (and especially if you work for a company that does a lot of emergency service), that can really add up and significantly boost your income.
As a union member, your employer pays into a pension fund that’s yours when you retire, and you collect it for the rest of your life. A pension is an incredibly valuable benefit that used to be common but today is almost non-existent outside of unions.
If you’re just entering the workforce, chances are that retirement seems very far away and not something you’re worried about now. However, don’t overlook the value of knowing you will be able to retire at a reasonably young age and be assured of having a good income and living comfortably.
5. Contracted working conditions
When you work for a non-union employer, you have no guarantee about the working conditions you’re signing up for. As a union member, on the other hand, you are guaranteed an 8 hour regular workday with a specific start and finish time. Plus, you’ll earn paid vacation and holidays.
6. High quality (and FREE) training
To become a skilled and valuable service technician, there’s a lot to learn. That’s true if you’re just starting out with no experience, if you went to trade school, and even for experienced professionals who need to keep up with new technology and keep their skills current.
The training you will receive when you work for a union shop is top-notch. The union offers a training program that your employer can enroll you in (and which you attend at no cost to you while you work and earn good money). Employers also develop their own comprehensive training and mentoring programs that set you up for success.
7. Supporting the industry
Union employers contribute to a fund that’s used to support and promote the HVAC & Refrigeration industry to ensure long-term growth of a healthy marketplace and workforce. That means an opportunity that’s great today will remain an interesting and lucrative job with lots of opportunity for you as you build your career.
8. The union has your back
Union employers are required to meet many conditions under collective bargaining agreements with the union, which means they are in the habit of treating employees fairly. However, in the unlikely event that you have a problem with your employer, it’s a great comfort to know that the union is there to support you and will negotiate on your behalf with your employer.
Ok, so the best HVACR companies to work for are the union shops. So how do you find them and how do you get into the union?
Getting into the union for HVACR service technicians
The national union for HVACR workers is UA. However, here in NYC our local branch (Local 638) has a specific division for service technicians who maintain, repair, and install HVAC and Refrigeration equipment, known as ServiceFitters. This division is open to anyone who can secure a job with a union employer serving the NYC metro area.
There’s no need to wait in long lines twice a year for the chance to get your name on a list. You just need to get hired by a NYC union HVACR company as a “helper,” apprentice, or junior technician. Within 45 days after you’re hired, your employer will refer you for union membership. You complete some paperwork and you’re in.
Finding a union employer
So, when you apply for service technician jobs, be sure to find out if the company is a union shop. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to check if an HVAC or Refrigeration service company is union or non-union except to reach out and ask.
However, if you want to apply for jobs with the best HVAC companies to work for in NYC, check out the employers listed here on HVACR Career Connect NY.
HVACR Career Connect NY was created to promote the exceptional quality-of-life benefits of a career in HVAC and Refrigeration service, and also to provide a clear path for getting started in the profession. In doing so, we serve as a resource for employers in the New York City metro area to find and hire smart and capable new technicians. We also serve as an educational resource to support business growth and to help service technicians succeed in their chosen profession.