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Farriers may pride themselves on being their own boss and owning their own company, but with the expansion of the International Union of Journeymen Horseshoers of the United States and Canada, now may be the time for shoers to think about joining a union.
During recent months, the union has grown from 81 members to almost 40,000, thanks to a merger with workers in non-horseshoeing trades. This increase means that shoers can take advantage of much better life insurance policies and medical insurance coverage at a fraction of the previous cost, according to union member Paul Brooker of East Boston, Mass.
Shoers do have concerns about medical coverage as evidenced by a survey conducted by American Farriers Journal at the 2003 Bluegrass Laminitis Symposium. The results showed that 27 percent of surveyed shoers believe rising costs and fewer choices in medical coverage is the biggest economic concern for farriers today. This number is similar to the worries about rising unemployment (35 percent) and rising fuel costs (32 percent).
More than a year ago, members of several workers and allied trades groups wanted to become members of the national AFL-CIO organization. However, it was too expensive to join on their own, so they needed to find a group to establish a partnership with. Because the horseshoers’ union numbers on the low end (most of these members are track shoers), the larger groups found them a perfect union to partner with.
After toiling in relative anonymity for years…