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You can't have a discussion group with massage therapist without having the topic of forming a union comes up. There are many sides to this -one that probably will be never fully answered.

I for one always just think it seems like the unions are the ones who have ruined the auto industry with their demands. What would a union do for the massage profession? What really is the problem in the massage job world? I've lived a sheltered life never having to get a massage job and always having my own business.

20 years ago when I first started out there were no jobs - period. Jobs were and are still mostly IC positions but the massage franchises are changing this for the profession but they of course have terrible pay and have mostly bad reports from people who worked there.

Franchises have their place in the massage profession. They provide steady income and work for the most part. ME advertises nationally in magazines and on TV. I read an article in Massage Mag a few years ago saying that only 25% of people who go into a ME become members leaving the rest to go find other massage therapists or perhaps never get a massage again?!

I can't figure out why massage therapists even go to work for ME or other franchises for such low pay rates. The tips are supposed to make up the difference and I suppose that if you are good you could do alright. And better yet - why do they stay? Are there just no jobs or not enough support to teach people how to start their own businesses? What do people think who get massages at franchises? Do they not know the difference or feel the difference? Everyone has their ups and downs in giving a massage no matter if they are self employed or work at a franchise.

And now this mysterious poster is claiming to be starting a union but is unable to give any details. Are they for real? I found them first on the forums which is notorious for having one person who logs in as many different people and trashes the massage profession making it look bad because they are unhappy in their career choice.

What do people need to communicate to employers and potential employers about what they want? A Union? More education on how to get or create jobs? Any ideas????


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Comment by Darcy Neibaur on July 21, 2010 at 10:08am
I had the previledge and honor of meeting CG Funk, the Vice President of Massage Envy, at the World Massage Festival. What a wonderful lady she is. Massage Envy is featuring me me in their next print out of the their newsletter Hands and Hearts which will be out in the fall. The corporate office called last week and did a telephone interview. Doug Jensen the owner of Pensacola Massage Envy yesterday read to me a letter that is being sent to Massage Envy Corporate on my behalf. It is an amazing letter and made me cry. I am truly grateful for my job at Massage Envy, all the CE training I have received FREE from their generous giving to all employees who choose to take advantage of these opportunites, and now to be the featured therapist in their newsletter. Massage Envy is an awesome place to work.
Comment by Darcy Neibaur on November 23, 2009 at 6:31pm
Let it be known that all Massage Evny's are individually owned and operated and all are not run the same, nor the prices are not the same and the sessions are not the same.
Comment by Bianca Berrios on November 22, 2009 at 9:18pm
lets not forget if you are not joining there membership, you pay $98 for 50 mins (40 mins in actuallity)...
Comment by Bianca Berrios on November 22, 2009 at 9:15pm
Julie I completley agree with you. I think I can speak clearly on this subject as I did work for ME 2 days a week out of school in 2007 and as well worked for a chiro and independent contracted for another therapist all at the same time...I absolutley dreaded ME, first being that the owners are not lmt's so they have no idea about how things should work, contradications, indications, etc. Then they are not honest about the fact that the sessions are only 50 minutes hands-on and if you need to discuss anything with your therapist in regard to your needs and pathologies, etc...guess what - that's coming of your time on the table, oh and by the way if it takes you a few minutes to undress and dress that as well is coming of your time. As for the therapists, just like anywhere there are great therapists and just okay. I have had some wonderful massages from therapists when I was there. So good that I continued after I stopped employment with them to continue to go back due to the fact the therapist I would see was so good I couldn't find anyone else that did deep tissue the way she did... I to used to say I don't know why you continue to stay here and receive crappy pay for your level of work :( I left not only due to the pay but because they want to run the clinic like a sweat shop, or a deli if you will. I felt I could not serve my clients well in 40 mins... I admire the idea of making massage affordable as it is a vital part of health care, but I do not admire that these clinics are demeaning to 'our' integrity. I wish LMT's would rally to boycott these franchises all together and then we wouldn't have to worry about this talk of 'unions'. But with that said I do know what its like when you are just graduating and trying to make that transition and need to have some kind of income until you find something else. With fairness to that someone needs to be an ally for the therapists at these massage mills. On another note after contracting and working for a chiro I finally bit the bullet and have opened my practice and I can tell you it doesn't help to be located in the same town as a ME. I find myself having to explain to others what sets me aside from ME and why can't I offer the $39/$49 rate for an hour. They are very misleading to the public. As clients walking in their door believe they are receiving 60 minutes quality time and that is clearly not the case.

Lets not forget as well if you don't s
Comment by Tricia Szakmeister on November 19, 2009 at 2:29pm
I truly think a union would not get anything more accomplished than a individual working hard for themselves. I own my shop and wouldn't want to pay dues to anyone else just to operate it. Also as to pertaining to the fellow in the email below that was wrong-fully accused of something.....that is a reminder to all of us how we should present ourselves professional and appropriate. That way if something is to arise as such, it should be obvious to co-workers and other clients that it is false. That sounds kinda like I'm blaming him for the situation and I want to make sure you all know I'm NOT, but we have to remember other therapists in the past used this career to hide "nasty" jobs, so it's up to us to show ourselves to be health professionals and not just "people who like to rub other people".
Comment by Crystal Dawn Suovanen on November 19, 2009 at 11:42am
Here in San Diego there are 3+ MEs in close proximity, almost all owned by different people. Almost 80% of the people I went to school with started working for ME while they were in school, or right after they graduated. It DOES beat unemployment. The problem, however, I think is that the students weren't taught practical business practices. Student's were told their pay would average $60. Right after school? I doubt it. Maybe with a couple years under your oil belt.

They weren't taught how to value what they do and how to have confidence in what they do. The schools are teaching future MTs how to pass nationals (barely), but not how to succeed in the field.

Massage Envy DO have owners that make their own rules and set their own wages and standards. Working for one ME would differ greatly from working at another. One of the ME owners actually got to come in to the school and give a speech with a small q & a afterwards. I didn't really like that my school did that. Having a franchise buy or push themselves in to leave their stamp on new recruits.

The one big problem I have with ME and other franchises is that their owners and management aren't massage therapists and don't have any MT training. They don't know what "burn out" is, they don't know indications and contraindications, they're just looking to make money on the "new up and coming trend of massage" (I actually heard her say that.). They don't even know the HISTORY of massage. When they talk about the benefits, they're reading it off of a pretty brochure.

Long story short, therapists need to be taught more than how to pass a national exam. Unions would not be a solution to the bigger problem. In fact, I think they may add to it. The reason so many people are flocking to massage franchises is because a lot of them just wanted a quick career and are satisfied with their current employment. The few squeaky wheels that aren't satisfied make it seem more horrible than it is.

I agree something should be done, but do not believe unionized massage therapists are the answer.
Comment by Darcy Neibaur on November 18, 2009 at 1:30pm
They opened in Pensacola, FL in May 2009 with 16 therapists and have added more as they have grown.
Comment by lee kalpin on November 18, 2009 at 1:21pm
It is amazing to me that Massage Envy has 22 therapists! They do not have any franchises here in Canada, but a new company called Massage Addict has just opened 2 franchises and they have a business plan that is similar to Massage Envy Massage Therapists are very concerned that this type of company is going to provide a lot of tough competition.
Comment by Darcy Neibaur on November 18, 2009 at 1:17pm
I do not know how it is around the USA. In Pensacola, FL though there are 22 therapists at Massage Envy here. Only a couple of them are "right out of school". So, I do not know if the "right out of school" is an assumption or if that is how it is around the USA. There are therapists right out of school only a couple and up to 15 years experience in Pensacola, FL.
Comment by lee kalpin on November 18, 2009 at 11:40am
That is a good example Julie. Question - is there not some government agency that employees can appeal to if they are wrongfully dismissed? Since he has been reported to the state board, I assume there will be some type of inquiry, at which time he can give his side of the story. Will he have to hire a lawyer to represent him at that hearing? I know how this works in Ontario where I work, but I'm sure different jurisdictions operate in different ways.
No doubt a union could be helpful in a situation like this. My difficulties with a union are:
1. Only a certain proportion of MTs would join. Those who are self- employed would have no use for it.
2. It takes expertise and money to organize and run a union. - people with the expertise and experience would have to be hired.
3. Members would have to pay union dues and many of them would balk at the price.
4. There would be no way to force MTs into joining the union. Many employers would get around it by
hiring non-union MTS

It is an idea that has merit, but is very difficult to implement. Much easier to do this in an environment like a factory where you have hundreds of people working together, doing similar work for the same employer. Much harder to do when potential members are scattered all over in different types of jobs.

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