How My Job Means Peace of Mind, Safety, and Security for My Family

Kirt M., Queens, NY

Union Carpenter, Local 45

I’ve been married for 20 years. I’ve also been a union carpenter for 20 years and – and that’s not just by chance.

When we decided to start our family, I knew I needed to find a career with stability. I needed a good-paying job with training and real opportunities for career advancement, health care, and retirement benefits to be able to provide for my family well into the future as we grew and to enable us to buy a home. I found all of that as a union carpenter and it was the best decision I ever made – other than starting our family!

I knew the value of the union early in life. I was born in Trinidad, and my father moved to the U.S. when I was young. He joined the Steam Fitters Union Local 638 as a way to provide for us back home. I always admired how hard he worked to provide for us. When I eventually moved to America almost 30 years ago, I wanted to have the same financial stability and benefits he had and, most importantly, I wanted to work in a safe environment.

Now, with a family to think of, safety at my job is the top priority. Not only for me – but for my family. When I leave early in the morning – sometime before the sun comes up, they don’t have to worry whether or not I will come home safe and in time for dinner, or football practice or to help with homework, or wherever our busy lives bring us that night. The carpenters union gives us that peace of mind.

The prioritization of training and safety on the job is a value unique to the union.  The carpenters union and our contractors make ongoing investments to provide everyone at all stages in their careers with the skills and tools we need to do a safe job – for workers and the communities, we build.

Beyond the training the union and our contractors provide, we work together to make the voices of workers heard and advocate for critical safety standards for all workers, both union and non-union alike.

At the carpenters union, we have each other’s back figuratively and literally. It’s not the same at non-union shops. Safety and training are not prioritized. They don’t provide the same benefits for healthcare and retirement. I wouldn’t want to put my family through that worry, which is why I appreciate the union and all my colleagues who fight for so hard for what we all deserve.

The carpenters union and our contractors have given my family so much. My wife is also part of a union. Thanks to our union jobs, we own a house. We take family trips. We have quality and affordable healthcare. We’ve built a family and a home in Brooklyn. My eldest son just graduated from college and is pursuing a career in law enforcement. Our middle son is a freshman in college continuing his dream to play football, and our youngest son wants to be an actor.

I want nothing more for them but to follow their dreams. My wife and I feel so fortunate to be able to support them.

For one son it’s football, and we were able to put him in all the extra programs he wanted and provide the necessary support for him.  Now he’s the recipient of a college football scholarship. I was able to put my oldest son through school without worrying about crippling student debt. And for our youngest – we’ll be able to make sure he has the same college and after school programs to achieve his goals. Our family feels so blessed to have these opportunities, and if it wasn’t for the stability and benefits of the union it would never have been possible.

My family is everything to me and I am proud of my career and forever grateful to the union and our contractors for providing me with the stability, benefits, and safety standards that allow me to advance my career and provide my family the kind of life I always dreamed of for them.

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