Some 300 building trades apprentices from throughout the commonwealth converged on the state Capitol in June to meet with their legislators about the importance of joint apprenticeship schools and the value of union building trades workers.
Representing ironworkers, operating engineers, carpenters, electricians, insulators, steamfitters, plumbers, laborers and others, members of local unions volunteered their time to participate in the first ever Apprentice Day, as part of the Pennsylvania Building and Construction Trades Council’s Legislative Conference.
“It’s critical that all of our elected officials understand the value of our Joint Apprenticeship schools and the investments that we and our contractors make in training and education,” said James Kunz, Business Manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local Union #66. “With virtually no public funding involved, we provide tuition-free career training for thousands of Pennsylvanians annually.
“Our membership is diverse, highly skilled and drug free. If we want to sustain the industry and continue to provide meaningful careers for responsible men and women, it is imperative that we receive support and recognition of our value from every elected leader.”
Among other topics, apprentices met with their respective state representatives and senators to discuss the importance of maintaining prevailing wages, which discourages out-of-state contractors from utilizing less skilled workers and underbidding Pennsylvania wages and benefits. The misclassification of workers and the importance of supporting professional contractors who play by the rules were other popular topics of discussion.
“There are approximately 8,000 apprentices in Pennsylvania who have embarked on one of the most demanding careers in the workplace,” said Frank Sirianni, President of the Pennsylvania Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO “Quality construction comes from having men and women who have the desire to be trained and are committed to their profession. Structured apprenticeship programs as offered by building trades unions and their contractors are the most effective way to ensure such construction.”
||A new garden shed and pavilion, constructed and donated by the Greater Pennsylvania Regional Council of Carpenters (GPRCC), has been added to the Dwayne Cooper Garden of Hope in the Hill District neighborhood of the City of Pittsburgh.
Located at the intersection of Bedford Avenue and Francis Street, the Dwayne Cooper Garden of Hope is an urban farm and community garden project of the A. Phillip Randolph Institute in partnership with the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh. It was initiated in 2010 to help educate young men and women in the city about urban agriculture, the importance of healthy eating, and about career opportunities related to the farming and forestry industries. A new addition to this year’s farm and garden is the carpenters’ new shed and pavilion which can also serve as a reminder of the career opportunities in the construction and building trades industry.
The 4-by-8 foot garden shed and 10-by-12 foot pavilion were constructed by carpenter apprentices during the GPRCC’s Spring 2011 Open House competition at its Joint Apprenticeship and Training Center in Collier Township. Both structures were transported and assembled on site with the assistance of journeymen carpenters employed by Massaro Construction Company.
“Our Joint Apprenticeship and Training Center produces the best trained carpenters in the country,” said Bill Waterkotte, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the GPRCC. “Like many of the other
local building trades unions, we teach and promote environmental awareness and other
Carpenter apprentices and journeymen assemble
a new pavilion at the Garden of Hope in the Hill District to provide a temporary resting area for
urban farmers. The pavilion and an adjacent
garden shed were donated by the Greater
Pennsylvania Regional Council of Carpenters.
facets of green construction, and we were pleased to work with the A. Philip Randolph Institute and its partners on this project.”
Other sponsors of the Dwayne Cooper Garden of Hope are GTECH, Grow Pittsburgh and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Foodbank.
The Carpenters’ Joint Apprenticeship and Training Center is one of 17 Joint Apprenticeship schools operated by local building trades unions. All are tuition free and open to men and women who meet achievable standards and are committed to a career in construction. For information about western Pennsylvania’s Joint Apprenticeship Training Centers, call the Builders Guild at 412-921-9000 or log onto www.buildersguild.org.