Read the article from the Midwest Economic Policy Institute about increases in apprenticeship participation and the related study.
Read the article from the Midwest Economic Policy Institute about increases in apprenticeship participation and the related study.
The Fair Contracting Foundation produced a video highlighting the many apprenticeship programs in Minnesota and their facilities. The video showcases both apprentices at work and the great training facilities available for training our future craftsmen and craftswomen. Video by Vince Muzik.
What started out as a grass roots gathering in California more than a decade ago has turned into an international event. And it’s coming to Minnesota! The Minneapolis Hilton will host the 9th National Trades Women Build Nations Conference, October 4-6.
The conference begins at 7 a.m. Friday with two days of service volunteer opportunities. One is painting at Ascension Place, a women’s shelter in Minneapolis, and the other is food packing at Second Harvest Heartland, a local food shelf. On Friday evening a welcome reception sponsored by the building trades and Union Bank & Trust runs from 6-9 p.m. at the Hilton with Chase & Ovation, a Prince cover band, performing.
Saturday and Sunday will feature workshops on topics ranging from recruiting, apprenticeships, health and opioid problems, government policy, retirement and financial planning.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women make up 47 percent of the workforce but less than 10 percent in the building trades. The trades offer great career paths and the number of women in the trades are growing. The conference allows women to garner support among each other, develop ideas to recruit more women, and navigate unique on-the-job challenges.
With an estimated attendance of 2,300 at last year’s conference in Seattle, the women’s conference has exceeded the attendance of the North American Building Trades Union’s (NABTU) Legislative Conference, the yearly gathering in Washington, D.C. where congressional leaders mingle with labor leaders. The women’s conference became international in scope when a group of women from Ireland arrived. The conference has even attracted the attention of Teen Vogue magazine.
“The career message is pretty straightforward: This is one industry where the pay is equal among the genders,” said Betsy Barnett, NABTU’s communications director. “The career opportunity is very viable for women.” More volunteers are needed for the conference. Anyone interested can sign up at the official page of the Trades Women Build Nations Conference at the NABTU web site www.nabtu.org/twbn. Or call Jenny Winklaar, director of marketing and public relations, at the Minneapolis Building Trades, at 612-817-2930.
When work on the I-35W Downtown to Crosstown project resumes in earnest this spring, Kim and Brittney Bray will be hard at work once again. Amidst the mountains of concrete piled high in the southbound lanes and the heavy equipment, the mother/daughter duo will be working as operating engineers and members of IUOE Local 49.
Their family legacy in the trades began with Kim’s brother who worked as a piledriver. “My brother told me they needed women and I was interested in joining the union. I went in and applied and got the job,” Kim said, now an 11-year veteran who started as a roller operator. The long hours and hard work don’t faze her. Her days as a working mother prepared her for life in the 49ers. “When I had kids when they were little I picked them up from day care and then I had to go back to work again. I’m used to working a lot.”
Her daughter Brittney graduated from Hamline with degrees in environmental studies and business. Soon thereafter she found herself at a dead end. “At the time (right out of college) I was working a call center job that I had worked at in college and I was pretty much miserable, sitting inside the office during the summer. Working at an office job stuck in a chair all day pretty much wasn’t my thing,” she explained. Like her mom, she heard the 49ers were looking for women so she applied. She made it into the apprentice program and eventually became a journeyworker.
They both enjoy the benefits of the work they do, but when they work they REALLY work. Working on the I-35W project involves long hours. During the summer, it’s meant 12-hour days, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and maybe longer, working six days a week, sometimes seven. The project involves lots of people from several different crews because the work is so varied. New bridges, walls for the sides of the highway, underground roads, utilities like water, sewer and electrical work — lots of construction you don’t see when you’re driving by. “We often work on top of each other with the different crews,” Brittney said. “You get used to the long hours. It can catch up on you as far as getting things done around the house and having a life. But the paychecks are good and the benefits are nice.”
One of the benefits for them has been having winters off from work. Brittney went to Thailand in December and Kim planned a trip to Houston for the two of them to see a Rolling Stones concert. Added Brittney, “You just have to be careful what you spend your money on during the summertime. If you budget things out, you can make it work.”
The Women Building Success awards, created just last year to recognize outstanding women workers in the local building trades, drew a standing-room-only crowd at Surly Brewing in Minneapolis on March 6. Emceed by Jennifer Gaspersich, financial secretary for IBEW Local 292, winners and an honorable mention were awarded in the following categories:
• Apprentice of the Year: Laura Tracy, IBEW Local 110 (left-most in picture). Honorable mention: Stefany Slaney, Sprinkler Fitters Local 417.
• Journey Worker of the Year: Katie LaPlant, Carpenters Local 322 (middle in the picture). Honorable mention: Veing Paborriboon, Sheet Metal Workers Local 10.
• Advocate of the Year: Tasha Lawrence, Plumbers Local 34 (right-most in the picture). Honorable mention: Wendy Stuhr, Operating Engineers Local 49.
Also on hand to honor the event and promote this year’s upcoming Women Building Nations conference were Bobby Crider, director of operations for the North American Building Trades, and Viki O’Leary, chairwoman of the North American Building Trades Unions Tradeswomen’s Committee.
The 9th Annual Trades Women Build Nations conference will be held Oct. 4-6, 2019, at the Hilton Minneapolis. For the most up-to-date conference information, please visit www.nabtu.org/twbn.
A surprising number of veterans experience difficulty returning home from their service. An estimated 37,000 experience homelessness and are in need of treatment for mental health problems related to PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) and traumatic brain injuries. Haven for Heroes was organized to help those vets in need of care.
Championed by Anoka State Senator Jim Abeler, Haven for Heroes is located on the campus of the former Anoka State Hospital which was closed down at the end of 1999, Haven for Heroes began in December of 2018 taking over for Eagles Healing Nest. The organization provides an substance and alcohol-free residence that helps veterans transition back into civilian life.
While the buildings on the campus (referred to as “cottages”) are striking in their architectural design, they are definitely old since the state hospital opened in 1900. But they’ve done what well-made buildings do: they were built to last. However, some are in need of skilled trades have because they’ve fallen into disrepair. Enter the Kevin Garvey, the apprenticeship instructor for Plasterers Local 265, and his group of apprentices.
During a meeting with Sen. Abeler, Garvey was asked if he would enlist his plasterers in restoring the campus. Garvey told him, “Heck, yeah, we’d love to be involved with this!” He figured it’ll be a great learning experience for his students. “It’s fantastic — absolutely fantastic! — for the kids. They’ve learned a lot and been exposed to a lot we can’t expose them to in the classroom,” he added.
Garvey has used 13 apprentices during his team’s time working on the campus, beginning by repairing water damage in Cottage 2. This past session they worked on the auditorium filled with old-school ornamental plastering. “It’s almost a living laboratory,” he said. But there’s so much to do. Some of it involves such classic, historical design it requires more time and expertise they can lend to it: “I could stay here for six months working on this.”
Not only have the apprentices gained valuable experience, they’ve benefited knowing they’ve helped others. As Garvey explained, “They feel like they’ve done something fo the vets. Everybody loves to do something for the vets. They feel like they are doing a little part to make life easier for them, getting them off the street and with a nice place to stay.”
Representatives from all the trades packed the big room at Mancini’s Char House in St. Paul Monday, Feb. 4, for the Apprenticeship Coordinators Association’s Injured Apprenticeship Fundraiser Dinner. Larry Gilbertson emceed the event, which included more than a few jokes, a raffle and a presentation honoring Brian Aske, the long-time apprenticeship coordinator. Now retired, Aske worked 21 years at the Operating Engineers Training Center starting in 1997 and counseled full-time there since 2006. “Brian did a lot to further all of the union trades and was a trend-setter reaching out to women and minorities,” Gilbertson said.
Aske began his career after completing the heavy equipment program at Central Lakes College. From there he became an apprentice and then a journey worker. “The biggest change in the business has been technology. The majority of the work at an excavation site is done now with GPS,” Aske said. “The safety training has excelled too the past 20 years – protecting the worker, the employer and the public.”
“I retired with a good pension and health benefits and the satisfaction of driving around town knowing ‘I built that’,” he added. “As far as the apprentices go, I see people I knew when they were apprentices working in the field now. Hopefully, they’ll retire with the same benefits and satisfaction I did.”
Rice County Habitat for Humanity’s latest home project is located on Willow Street, one of the city’s main throughfares in Faribault, MN. But on one particular day in February, the residence stood out from neighbors’ homes because of all the cars parked in front. Thirty electricians from IBEW Local 110 descended to install wiring and control equipment through the entire house, from the basement through the upper floor and into the garage.
The relationship between Local 110 and Rice County Habitat for Humanity dates back to 2000. The electricians started volunteering when Rice County Habitat for Humanity could only afford to develop one house a year. In 2019, they will be able to build four or five homes thanks to the volunteers of Local 110. “The work they do is incredible. Their work saves us between $12,000 to $18,000 per house,” explain Dana Norvold, executive director of Rice County Habitat for Humanity. “Everybody knows what to do, and they get it done fast. Plus, they’re a really nice community of people.”
Not only do the electricians donate their expertise, but they supply the parts and materials as well. And there’s never been a shortage of people who want to volunteer. According to Local 110’s Jeff Anderson, they’ve been able to combine the opportunity for electricians to sharpen their skills for residential housing with some fun. “We raffle off prizes and we have a catered lunch. With so much help, we get things done fast. I think those things have kept our people coming back,” he said.
Most of the work done by IBEW Local 110 electricians is industrial or commercial, so doing a single family home is a change of pace that helps keep their residential skills sharp. “At this time of year (winter), there’s not as much work so this helps us out. We give those who drive a distance a gas card in return for their help, too,” Anderson said. “In the summer when we’re busy, it’s more of a challenge to fit our work with Habitat in. But we always have enough people who want to do it.”
You can listen to the electricians hard at work here:
Residents of Minnesota don’t fear winter. They embrace it. Such was the case on Saturday, Jan. 19, when 100 kids joined their parents to go fishing on Coon Lake as part of the Take Kids Ice Fishing Day, sponsored by local Building Trades unions and co-hosted by the nonprofit Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) Local 9. It was the first event of its kind by the Alliance, an organization whose mission statement reads simply “to unite the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage.”
Braving the frigid temperatures of a Minnesota winter — temperatures ranged from -14° in the morning to a “high” of -2°in the afternoon — was a new one for the Alliance. They do many kids fishing events all over the country, usually in the summer. Unions have found that it’s a great way to get kids out and give back to the community. “When we talked to Dave (Morin, President of IUEC Local 9) about an opportunity to do an event, he said, ‘What about an ice fishing event?’” said Rob Stroede, Conservation Manager at USA. “I told him, ‘If you can get the volunteers, we’ll do it.’”
They got the volunteers and the kids. “We had more interest in the event than we anticipated,” Stroede elaborated. “We set out to preregister 100 kids. We had more than 100 in the first two weeks of the registration period.”
“We had about 30 volunteers to help us do this,” said Morin. “They came from all different unions, too.” The union volunteers drilled holes in a ice (with an average thickness of 15 inches), set up the portable fishing tents (called hub houses), and did other duties to soothe frozen nerves. For many people, kids and adults alike, fishing was a new experience. Union volunteers were there to mentor them through baiting hooks to finding the right depth, all in the pursuit of having the experience of catching a fish for the first time. IUEC Local 9 invested $2,500 sponsoring the event, which included prizes and a pulled pork lunch for the participants.
“A lot of kids just had fun being out here, being outside. Whatever the weather is, they’ll make the best of it…at least for a little while. It’s an opportunity for families to be together, to bond and to be outdoors,” said Stroede.
According to Randy Bast, a second year NEIEP Instructor at IUEC Local 9, union hospitality extended to two families from the Fort Worth, Texas-area who were in Minnesota over the weekend for their kid’s hockey tournament. “They saw one of the flyers for our event in a restaurant somewhere, so they came out with their sons to try ice fishing,” he said.
So how was the fishing? As one mother put it, “The fishing was cold, but the entertainment value was high.” One of the young fishermen had a different insight: “I think the fish were sleeping.”
On November 14, 2018 Highway/Heavy wage rates were newly certified. Two things unique about Highway/Heavy rates are:
There were 19,656 employees reported for the 2018 survey as compared to 19,009 the previous year. The certified rates are based on the most frequently reported wage rates by region. These rates are usually published in late October or November and take effect until the next survey is collected and analyzed and new rates certified the following October or November.
On December 17, 2018 Commercial wage rates were newly certified. These are certified by county and project size must be at least $2,500. These rates are generally certified in December and stay in effect until the next certification the following December.
This year there were 60,274 employees reported state-wide as compared to 56,023 the previous year.
Giving is the hallmark of the Christmas/Holiday Season. Union people don’t wait until Christmas to help their communities though; they do it year-round.
A case in point was the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) International Day of Service 2018 this November. A group of electricians representing the the IBEW’s Electrical Workers Minority Caucus (EWMC) took time on a Sat., Nov. 17, to help out two groups in the Twin Cities.
IBEW Local 110’s Mike Roberts, President of the group’s minority caucus in St. Paul, joined with fellow workers at Conway to not only fix the fixtures but do some painting as well. “I have been blessed. So, for me personally, I think I should give help others out,” Roberts said. Added Chico Marino, the Vice Chair of the Minority Caucus in St. Paul, “The IBEW’s Minority Caucus has been around for 45 years. It’s been a great way for us to become part of the communities where we live.”
In Minneapolis Local 292 installed brand new LED lighting in Little Earth’s gymnasium. “We picked Little Earth because we want to get a recruiting foothold in the Native American community by showing our support for them. We hope we can show them a profitable lifestyle in the trades as a profession is achievable for them,” explained JaCory Shipp, President of Local 292 Minority Caucus.
“They fixed our gym, which is also our community room. It is the heart of our community at Little Earth. We play basketball in there, hold our Christmas parties in there — everything!” Jolene Jones, President of the Little Earth Residents Association, said. “We needed new lighting in there for a long time. Now, thanks to them, we’ve got it!”
Over the last year, six Tribal Nations and the Minnesota Building Trades have piloted a new apprenticeship readiness program to prepare tribal members to enter the union construction industry. The first class of 15 students graduated on June 15, 2018 and many have already been accepted into full-fledged apprenticeship programs.
This 12-week course introduces students to the work of 11 different construction trades, including carpentry, sheet metal, electrical, general construction labor, plumbing & pipefitting, roofing, masonry, bricklaying, heavy equipment operation, and ironwork. Students welcomed the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with multiple crafts, allowing them to explore and find the trade best suited to their interests.
The program also incorporated tribal customs and cultural learning appropriate for the tribes involved, which included: the White Earth, Leech Lake, Bois Forte, Fond du Lac, and Mille Lacs Annishinabe reservations and the Upper Sioux Dakota community. The program hired to Five Skies, LLC out of Black RiverFalls, Wisconsin, to serve the role of understanding each tribal partner’s needs.
Other partners include the Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development, which provided grant funding, private contractor donations, and in-kind donations from the Building Trades unions.
While this first class was a pilot program, everyone involved is optimistic about the future of the program. Click here to read more about this program.