'Getting A License In This State Has Been A Nightmare'

By M.D. Kittle

Photo: Getty Images

Bradford Collins learned the ins and outs of the plumbing trade working on countless residential and commercial jobs for more than a dozen years in Illinois.

At one point he was earning a comfortable living doing remodeling and construction plumbing jobs for Chicago Land's rich and famous. Collins once worked for a master plumber who taught union apprentices and journeymen the secrets of the state's intricate plumbing code.

All of that experience, all of that training, and the certification that came with it, amounted to nothing when Collins, 46, moved to Green Bay six years ago to be closer to his kids.

The state Department of Safety and Professional Services told Collins he would have to start all over again in Wisconsin. He'd have to enter an apprenticeship program for five years before he could even think about taking the test to earn his plumber's license.

So, instead of doing the job on which he built a 14-year career, Collins is working six days a week - at a sausage factory and delivering pizza, to earn close to what he did as a licensed plumber in Illinois.

"That's why I keep pushing for this," he told MacIver News Service. "I had a lot more pride in myself as a plumber. I had a trade. I had more of a feeling of accomplishment than I do right now."

That's not to say that Collins doesn't respect and appreciate the work he does in the factory as a line operator. But he doesn't understand why a licensed plumber familiar with some of the most rigorous codes in the country can't ply his trade in the Badger State.

Actually, Collins knows all too well the reason for his professional displacement: Special interest protectionism. Unions and the keepers of the trade can keep out those they see as undesirables - nonunion, out-of-state plumbers, who would dare to compete with members of the state's plumbing club.

"Getting a license in this state has been a nightmare," Collins said.

Read more at the MacIver Institute

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content