Switching To Our Union

iw-circle-logoThere is only one true union for ironworkers. The International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Ironworkers, or IW Int’l, represents over 130,000 men and women all over North America.

Occasionally, however, ironworkers find themselves in a situation where they are represented by a rat union. A rat union is an organization that exists, not to serve its members, but rather to further the interests of an employer.

Rat unions are set up by companies that wish to exploit their workers. Eliminating sham unions helps to improve wages, benefits, and working conditions throughout the industry. It is for this reason that Local 97 often runs campaigns designed to assist ironworkers in transitioning from fake unions to IW Int’l.

In November of 2014, for instance, 97 launched an initiative intended to help the reinforcing ironworkers employed by Lower Mainland Steel switch from their rat union CISIWU {now LMSEA} to Local 97. Sadly, 97 was not able to reach the entire LMS workforce with its message, and the drive was ultimately unsuccessful. The ironworkers at LMS did benefit from 97’s efforts, however; the pressure exerted by Local 97 forced CISIWU to implement some improvements such as benefits and a pension program.


If you’re currently represented by a phony union, and you’d like to upgrade to a real one, we’d love to hear from you. You needn’t worry about your employer’s reaction because all communication will be kept strictly confidential. And we have lawyers who will protect you in any case.

Remember: changing unions doesn’t necessarily mean changing jobs. If you like where you are, you can stay. But you can also take advantage of the increased security and mobility provided by 97’s network of more than 100 signatory contractors.

In this clip, ironworker Darcy McDonald talks about making the move from a rat union to Local 97. As you’ll see, he’s pretty darn pleased about it!