Brothers and Sisters

One noticeable difference between institutional locksmiths and non-institutional locksmiths is in how they often refer to each other.  It is not unusual for institutional locksmiths to refer to each other as 'brother locksmiths'.  Since many institutional locksmiths are union members, the term is probably borrowed from their union background. 

Union organizers had an easy time early in the twentieth century when railroad and steel barons made fortunes while ordinary workers were poorly paid and worked in sweatshop conditions.  Unionizing produced higher wages and other benefits for union members.  A dominant feature of unions is the will to work together for the common good.  Pictures of union members walking the picket line is a recurring sight in newspapers and on television.  

Times have changed today as union wages and benefits are one component of why goods made in USA have prices which are often higher than similar products made abroad. In some cases union pension plans developed at another time and in another situation are becoming an impossible burden for companies and governments to fulfill.   

A Pennsylvania locksmith called recently and complained about a service vendor. He had been regularly called by this service vendor to do lock work at local chain stores. The vendor was now requiring this locksmith to call in and report exactly what time he arrived on the job and to call again when he left the job.  The service vendor was also setting the hourly rate which they would pay.  As a result, this locksmith suggested that all locksmiths should stop doing work for this vendor.       

Whether it is membership in associations, unions or licensing, opinions in the locksmith community do not have a common denominator.  I cannot visualize a time when there will be a national union for locksmiths or when 100% of all locksmiths will belong to an association. The only advice I could give to the Pennsylvania locksmith was to do what is best for his business, but to also understand that there will be other locksmiths with different opinions ready to take any jobs he refuses.  There never has been a picket line of locksmiths in the news and there is no indication that one will be started any time soon.      

Unions have been a driving force in raising the pay scale for all workers.  If your hourly wage is higher than the national hourly minimum wage then thank unions for helping to raise your income. If you lose a commercial job because your business is not a union shop then blame unions for restricting trade.   As long as we remain rugged individualists we will continue to be affected by circumstances such as this which are beyond our control.