The Contributions of Unions

Our History of Supporting Workers Ensures a Prosperous Future

For more than 130 years unions have been advocating for workers’ rights, safety and better working conditions, fair wages and critical employment benefits such as health insurance and more.

Historically, unions have been a catalyst for change. Exampled by union efforts that helped lead to groundbreaking legislation in the 1930’s, when the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was finally passed after numerous decades of terrible working conditions. The FLSA established the 40-hour work week, minimum wage, and the requirement for paid overtime. It also put in place important regulations and standards around youth labor employment.

Unions have been instrumental in putting workers’ rights at the forefront of their priorities in legislative activities, building strong business relationships, community partnerships, and establishing apprenticeship programs.

Union members go through rigorous apprenticeships and on-the-job training, comprising nearly 80% of today’s apprentices in Wisconsin’s registered apprenticeship programs on an annual basis. Union leaders are confident their members are highly trained technical professionals that strive to achieve and set new standards of excellence in the construction industry.

Now, the Wisconsin Building Trades Council, founded in 2018, will carry the torch and accelerate change while carrying on the proud traditions of its member unions. WBTC is looking to evolve the perspective of the role of unions by demonstrating transparency and accountability in all our efforts and relationships.

Today, WBTC supports and advocates for 15 member unions in the Wisconsin construction and building trades, representing 61 locals and more than 40,000 diverse members. A vital role of WBTC will be proactively supporting pro-worker legislation for the building trades in Wisconsin.

WBTC is working together with its member unions and regional councils to:

  • Develop a vast network of 15 different apprenticeship training programs that are well-established and feature locations throughout the state.
  • Enroll 6,500 union members annually in apprenticeship programs, accounting for nearly 80% of Wisconsin’s registered apprentices.
  • Pursue the highest level of performance and technical knowledge in their industries
  • Maintain a position as the preferred choice for commercial construction in Wisconsin
  • Create a steady stream of work opportunities for union members
  • Fight for a Prevailing Wage for all union members
  • Ensure on-site compliance with safety and health regulations
  • Foster a workforce diverse in ethnicity and gender
  • Lead in our Wisconsin communities through philanthropic and volunteer activities