By: Michael San Felippo, union carpenter
Ten years ago, I was working in a private school as a special education teacher. I was struggling financially living paycheck to paycheck. I had big plans for the future, but knew I’d never achieve any of them if I didn’t make a change. Speaking with friends and family I decided to answer an advertisement to join the New York City Carpenters Union.
I loved being a teacher but joining the Carpenters Union allowed me to secure a future for myself and my future wife. I found that the pay was much better than my teaching salary. My union wages paid for an engagement ring for my wife, my wedding and honeymoon, and a home for my children. The union has also provided me and my family with high-quality benefits and healthcare. Throughout both of my wife’s pregnancies, everything was covered. In fact, we never paid a single cent out of pocket.
Working in a union has given me financial security in ways I never could have imagined. I am proud to be placing my stamp on our great city’s building history. I am most proud that what I’ve learned in the union further pushes me to be a great father and role model to my children.
The Carpenters Union is like an extended family. Before I joined the union, I thought I could do it all on my own, but I quickly realized the value of mentorship and began to really listen when longtime union members offered me advice. In the union, we all look out for one another and help each other learn. The sense of community is a beautiful thing. I have worked on many different projects and sites throughout my career and met so many amazing union brothers and sisters that I stay in touch with to this day. When you are on the job you are surrounded by your work family and then after a long day you are able to safely go home to your real family.
Joining the carpenters union has opened doors for me that I never knew existed. I have recently been offered a position to become a scaffolding instructor at our Training Center. This will allow me to combine my love of construction and teaching to train the future generation of carpenters.
I am proof that there truly is an opportunity for everyone in the New York City Carpenters Union. I would encourage anyone that is considering joining to take the leap. It’s not always going to be easy, but keep pushing forward, because I promise it will always pay off in the end. When you look back, you’ll smile at how far you’ve come. The security and sense of pride this job will give you will be worth every bit of it.