Associations And Unions

Dec. 1, 2014
Locksmith associations must re-invent the reason for their existence

A family relative named Ronald became a sheet metal worker soon after completing high school. For several years he would go to the local union hall and wait for his name to be called. Ron would then go to the designated jobsite and install sheet metal ductwork until the job was completed. Some jobs lasted many months and other jobs were completed in a few days. Once the job was completed, Ron returned to the union hall to obtain another assignment.

Ron gained enough experience after several years and decided to start his own sheet metal business.  The business flourished for a while but for some reason Ron finally closed the business and went back to visiting the union hall to obtain work. Ron is now retired and supported by his union pension plan.

Circus aerial acts and Ron the sheet metal worker have one thing in common. They both have safety nets in case of trouble.  Sheet metal workers like Ron actually have two safety nets, a union hall to obtain regular work and a pension plan for retirement.

There are two schools of thought regarding locksmith associations. Either you like them or you don't like them. Many of the complaints seem to be because locksmiths do not see any advantage in being a member or because they believe that associations are not headed in the right direction.

In my opinion locksmith associations perform two primary functions. First, they conduct educational classes. Second, they serve as a social outlet where you can meet fellow locksmiths and exchange ideas.  The major difference between an association and a union is that associations do not furnish a safety net. The moment after leaving a national or local locksmith association meeting, you are entirely on your own.  

Education was once the hallmark of locksmith associations. The internet, locksmith distributor conventions and individual companies in the security field all feature educational classes ‑ many at no charge.  Locksmith associations must re-invent the reason for their existence. Association dedication to the individual may have to be replaced by dedication to the group.  Group pension plans or group sales proposals to large chain stores can bring associations closer to the safety net approach that many non-members are looking for.