LIUNA Apprenticeship Programs Prevail
Activism of Tens of Thousands of Members Makes a Difference
Washington, D.C. (March 11, 2020) – Terry O’Sullivan, General President of LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – made the following statement today on the U.S. Department of Labor’s final rule on apprenticeships:
Union registered apprenticeship programs are the gold standard in the construction industry and the DOL’s final rule on IRAPs was a validation of that fact. This decision will ensure that LIUNA and the building trades first-class, cutting edge apprenticeship programs will continue to be the construction industry standard bearer.
This victory would not have happened without the extraordinary activism of LIUNA members in defense of our training and apprenticeship programs. The more than 88,000 comments submitted by our members is a testament to LIUNA’s solidarity, strength, and activism.
LIUNA thanks those in the Administration who supported us and we are grateful for the many Members of Congress, from both sides of the aisle, who stood with us and weighed in with the Department of Labor to protect LIUNA apprenticeship programs. We will not forget their efforts.
We won this battle and we will be ready for whatever comes next. Whether it’s an attack on our wages, pensions, or our right to collectively bargain, LIUNA will remain vigilant.
It’s a trend that has found its time: Getting more women working in construction is a tremendous area of opportunity for general contractors and larger construction firms. With women comprising just 9 percent of the construction workforce in the U.S., the benefits of recruiting and investing in female workers are apparent to employers. And with an ample supply of jobs available – often, more jobs than can be filled – it’s a great time for women to explore jobs in the construction industry.
Right now there’s a serious shortage of workers in the skilled trades. Women are well-represented in clerical, administrative and professional roles in the economy, but they’re hugely under-represented in manual labor roles. So construction employers realize that attracting more women into the skilled trades, instead of shoehorning them into professional roles, can quickly and efficiently address this shortage. Developers and general contractors see the value of diversification, and they’re doing more to connect women in the trades to construction jobs. Bottom line: If you’re a woman who wants to do the work, the construction industry needs you.
Case studies show that a construction team’s performance is enhanced when women are involved. Women bring new or different perspectives to approaching challenges in the workplace. The Harvard Business Review reports that the overall intelligence of teams is greater when females are part of the team. It’s clear that women on construction sites bring a lot to the table – not just by filling spots in a labor shortage, but in improving problem-solving and efficiency.
But there’s no way to avoid this: The reality is that there are barriers to entry for women in construction. The culture can be discouraging for women apprenticing in the skilled trades, and outdated attitudes can also come into play on a construction site. Women on construction teams can face discrimination and criticism as they integrate into the male-centric culture found in too many construction firms. For a woman looking to enter construction, the best advice is to be patient and persistent, don’t lose sight of your end goal, and work to be a leader. Take it seriously, because it’s a great career. Be the best student and worker you can be from Day One, and you’ll become part of the process of breaking down gender bias.
The Laborers Apprenticeship Program is on the front edge of changing the role of women in construction. We’re part of a grass-roots initiative to get more women involved in skilled trades such as laborers. One way we’re working to get more women in construction is by creating incentives for them to complete apprenticeships in construction trades.
One important thing to note is that the construction industry does an excellent job of minimizing the pay gap between men and women in similar roles. Both women and men can enjoy excellent economic benefits when they invest time in learning a construction trade.
We know that women have a lot to offer to the construction industry – that’s why we’re working hard to recruit and train them. And as more women work in the field, contractors and construction firms will enjoy the material and cultural benefits of a more equitable and inclusive workplace.
If you or a woman you know would like to be a part of this change while learning valuable, job-ready skills, call the Laborers Apprenticeship Program today.
Sunshine and clear skies are here! Every year, outdoor work ramps up in the drier weather. Ditching a desk job to work outside often tops the list of things construction workers love about their jobs. But spending months under the hot summer sun can also present specific dangers to construction workers.
Learn the signs of heat stress and get familiar with your team’s heat safety plan to keep yourself and your crewmembers safe this season.
We’re all responsible for each other
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 20 construction workers die each year from heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Construction laborers not only work long hours outdoors, but also often wear heavy protective clothing and work near heat sources such as engines or hot asphalt.
It’s extremely important that workers and their supervisors know the signs of heat-related illnesses and learn the best ways to prevent them. Before you get to work this season, make sure you’re familiar with your crew’s heat safety plan — and your role in it. While supervisors are in charge of setting up a safe work environment, you share the responsibility for yourself and your coworkers when it comes to recognizing signs of heat stress.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Heat Illness Prevention Campaign focuses on three words to remember: Water. Rest. Shade. Heat safety starts with making sure you’re hydrated, taking adequate rest breaks, and cooling down whenever possible — and encouraging your work crew to do the same.
What is heat-related illness?
The most common serious illnesses are heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Know the signs:
Who is at risk?
While anyone who works in hot conditions is susceptible to heat stress, there are personal and environmental factors that can increase your chances of becoming ill.
You may be particularly at risk if:
Beyond water, rest and shade, one simple preventative measure is wearing lightweight, breathable and light-colored clothing whenever possible. If you must wear heavy protective equipment on the job, make sure you’re taking more frequent breaks to cool down.
Acclimatization, or gradual exposure, is also an effective way to reduce heat stress. At the beginning of a heat wave or after a period of rest away from work, start slow. It can take at least five days and up to two weeks to fully acclimate to hot conditions.
What if I notice symptoms?
Report signs or symptoms immediately if you notice them in yourself or in a coworker. Talk to your supervisor about where and how to report and what to do during a heat-related emergency.
Symptoms can progress quickly. If a supervisor isn’t available, get to a cool, shaded area as fast as possible, rest, and drink water. If a coworker is unresponsive, call 911 right away.
Stay safe. Love your job.
Following a few simple safety measures can make sure you continue to thrive in what you love doing: Spending time outside, working with your body and your hands to build and improve the world we live in.
Ready to think beyond the cubicle? Contact NWLETT to find out more about our paid construction apprenticeships.
If you’re thinking about what the next step in your life and/or career should be, it might be helpful to hear from someone who was faced with a similar decision.
Read Darrick Jennings’ story, and you’ll see that joining the NWLETT Laborers Apprentice program can be a great decision for some people. Your situation might not be just like his, but the basic question is the same: What’s my best next move?
How did you hear about the Laborers Apprenticeship program?
I was born and raised in Seattle and my life journey was a bit rocky. But things began to get much better in early 2013 when I entered into a six-month pre-apprenticeship program at Seattle Vocational Institute (SVI). A friend told me about the Laborers Apprenticeship program and I was definitely interested in pursuing a chance to work in the construction industry. While at SVI, all the students were assigned to research Turner Construction and write an essay about the company. To my delight, I won the essay competition and got a tool bag with tools as the prize. My first job as a Laborer apprentice was with Turner.
Why did you choose to join the Laborers Apprenticeship program?
I just knew the Laborers Apprenticeship program was the right fit for me. I knew I had the physical capability to do the work, and I felt that I could really prove myself and excel at my job. I also chose the Laborers program because I wanted to be challenged.
What variety of jobs have you done while in the program?
During my time with Turner Construction, and as a new apprentice, I was doing basic tasks, mostly cleanup work. When the project ended after eight months, I was dispatched to Sellen Construction, and I’ve been there ever since. At Sellen, I’ve been doing mostly concrete work and I enjoy it very much.
Where are you in the program right now?
Today is my last day of classroom work here at the Kingston training center. I have over 6,000 hours of on-the-job training, and today I will become a Journeyman Laborer. I’m a member of Laborers Local 242 in Des Moines, and I’m looking forward to our next union meeting in June to receive my Journeyman card and jacket.
What area or field of work/training would you most like to continue in or focus on, and why?
Well, I really like concrete work. There’s a lot of concrete that goes into the construction of large buildings. I enjoy being a part of creating new buildings or doing tenant improvement (TI) work on existing buildings. There may be a time in the future where I want to expand my skills into other areas of Laborer work.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced while working as a Laborer?
You know, since becoming a Laborer I’ve kept my focus and I’ve been able to overcome obstacles. I’ve been able to persevere, and that has made me a stronger person. Everyone is different, and everybody has different views. Some people will stereotype you, and you just have to keep your head down and do the best job you can and prove to them, as well as to yourself, that you can exceed expectations.
What have you found to be the advantages of participating in the Laborers Apprenticeship program?
I’ve been able to meet good people. I always learn by watching and being around people who are sincere in teaching you the craft. I’ve been able to provide for my family. It gives you a great sense of self-worth and builds your self-esteem. I want this for my kids as well. In fact, my 21-year-old son is also in the Laborers Apprenticeship program, and doing very well.
Do you have any advice to give others who are considering joining the apprenticeship program and becoming a Laborer?
I would tell them to join, because it’s a good program. It’s an excellent opportunity to channel the obstacles in your life into a positive experience. It’s about deciding what you’re going to do. Take any negatives with a grain of salt, and instead work hard and stick to your ethics. Embrace what is positive and good; just be you.
We hope Darrick’s story gives you some insight into why the Laborers Apprenticeship program is beneficial for many people looking to start on a solid career path. Contact NWLETT today to find out more.
When you leave the military, that transition is a challenging time. Sure, you meet all kinds of people who are thankful for your service and want to help you, and you can take serious pride in what you’ve learned and accomplished. But you’ve got to identify and start the next phase of your work life, and thank-you’s and attaboys don’t pay the bills.
The things you’re used to, and enjoy – clear structure, strong teamwork, specific mission goals, steady pay and good benefits – aren’t always easy to find in civilian employment. And going to college can be a time-consuming and expensive process, with no guarantee of a job at the end.
But there are some fields of work that are natural fits for ex-military, and construction is one of the best. That’s why a NWLETT apprenticeship program is a great career-transition option.
And the construction industry knows the value of military experience, too. Check out some of these thoughts from industry recruiters and analysts:
“For construction contractors looking to add skilled employees to their business, there isn’t a better pool of candidates to choose from than the men and women transitioning from the military.”
“When I look at my work force, I want guys and girls out there who take pride in what they do. When they take pride in what they do, they tend to work safely and productively. You find a lot of that in the military. You find men and women who take pride in what they do and perform quality work each and every day.”
“If someone has leadership skills and the ability to be responsible, which a lot of our veterans have, they can potentially be a foreman or a supervisor and lead one of our project sites. So the opportunity to not only get paid but to advance is strong.”
Here’s another sign that military service and the construction industry are a good match: a recent article from HireOurHeroes.org outlined the top 14 military-friendly job categories. The first field on that list? The skilled trades – which are the jobs you can learn through a NWLETT apprenticeship.
But let’s break it down and get more specific about why this construction training program might be the way to go for you.
A construction apprenticeship with NWLETT lets you earn a living wage from your first day, with practical on-the-job training and plenty of opportunities for career advancement.
So you’re ready for Act II of your career and life… well, here’s a path that offers a lot for someone in your position. Contact NWLETT.
Think of some of your favorite buildings around where you live – they could be graceful homes, historical landmarks or marvels of modern architecture. Now think of the skills, pride and hard work that went into building them – and the people responsible.
In today’s world, you hear a lot about high-tech, dot-com startup, work-all-day-staring-at-a-computer jobs. As a consequence, some of the most noble, necessary and solid careers don’t get the respect they once did – and still deserve.
There are plenty of misconceptions about jobs in the construction industry. Today we want to address them directly – and provide non-nonsense, real answers to them.
Fact: Baloney. College isn’t for everyone, and the attitude that every high school graduate needs to attend college is really unfair to a significant number of people, by limiting their opportunity for career preparation.
Today’s job market rewards many skills that can be obtained through a technical college or an apprenticeship program. Students who enjoy working with their hands, designing and building are in demand in the construction industry, and are well paid. Working as a skilled craftsman is a career to be proud of.
Fact: Construction workers are in high demand, but you need career training to acquire knowledge and skills.
Construction is one of the only industries where employers pay for, host or send their employees to training. Apprenticeships are highly competitive. From education regarding OSHA safety regulations to classes, seminars and conferences regarding the latest construction technology and innovation, construction professionals are constantly improving their skill sets.
Workers interested in pursuing project management or other upper-level positions are often required to obtain a degree or further technical training. In a competitive market, especially the post-recession construction market, it can be very difficult for uneducated or inexperienced workers to find a job.
Fact: Sure, working in construction can be dangerous, but current safety standards and regulations have made the construction industry as safe as it has ever been. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that fatal work injuries in the private construction sector have decreased every year since 2006. Companies have learned that developing risk management plans, holding regular safety meetings and keeping a continuous eye on safety has a major impact on construction-site accidents and injuries. Also, tool manufacturers and equipment vendors are producing equipment with built-in safety features. They’re also hosting their own orientations, trainings and safety meetings, which reinforce the “Safety First” approach.
Fact: Most construction professionals are exactly where they want to be. Construction offers a multitude of jobs for a variety of skill sets, from planning and building to organizing and managing. People who start in a trade when they’re young receive more continuing education and training than the majority of their professional counterparts. This is especially true when you consider that less than half the workforce reports that their job requires a college degree.
Construction workers are employed in an industry that typically works Monday through Friday, with regular working hours and holidays off. They’re also fairly compensated for overtime. Plus, it’s very satisfying to be in a profession where you can work with your hands as well as your head, and can see physical results from your labor on a daily basis. Not to mention that the majority of houses, bridges, roads, high-rises, etc., that you build will be there for decades—if not centuries—to come.
Fact: This couldn’t be further from the truth. Construction begins long before a single construction worker or tool ever arrives on the scene. City and town planners, economists, engineers and architects are not performing “simple” jobs. Neither are the trained and skilled workers who show up every day using modern innovations and construction technology to build the world we live in. Construction requires the ability to “think outside the box,” as well as in-the-moment problem-solving skills that are not required in many other professions.
Fact: Construction is a multibillion-dollar industry. From residential homes to fancy hotels and high-rises to complex transportation systems, there are plenty of opportunities for construction workers to get ahead and earn a very comfortable living.
Consider that the median salary for construction project managers is $82,790, and it’s quickly obvious that professional success is a real possibility for construction professionals who are interested in working up through the ranks. It is also one of the few job markets left where entrepreneurs and skilled workers who want to start their own company have the opportunity to grow a lucrative business.
Fact: People choose the construction industry because they like to work, use their smarts, show their skills and enjoy the challenges. Individuals with excellent math and reading skills enter this industry to build amazing structures. Construction professionals work with their hands as well as their brains, and take pride in making an idea go from concept to final product.
Fact: The truth is that many construction workers earn more per hour than university graduates, and an average construction worker’s annual salary is greater than the overall national-average salary. If you work your way up in this industry as an apprentice, you can earn money while you’re studying and avoid student loan issues.
Fact: Today both men and women work as respected professionals on the same construction teams, and earn equal pay. You can find talented and well-trained women in this industry, and employers and coworkers appreciate their professional skills.
Fact: The construction profession requires you to be physically fit. It does not require you to be big and buff. As a matter of fact, to succeed in this profession, brains are more important than brawn.
It all adds up to a simple conclusion: the construction industry is still going strong, and is still a great choice for people who want a career-path job that’ll never go out of style. Have you ever talked to someone who had a hard time explaining exactly what they do in their computer-based job? Think back on your favorite buildings again… when you’re part of a construction team, there’s no question what you do: you build things. Things that last, things you can see, things you’re proud of.
And that’s certainly not a myth.
So, if you’ve been reading along here with our blog, you’ve picked up on the fact that the NWLETT apprentice program for Laborers looks like a smart choice if you’re more interested in getting on-the-job training and cashing checks than putting in four or five years of time and tuition.
But at this point you might have some questions that we haven’t answered in detail, or at all. Here are some questions we commonly get, and straightforward answers to them.
What are the requirements to get in the program?
There are three mandatory requirements: you have to be at least 18 years old, you must have a valid driver’s license, and you need to verify that you have at least a 10th-grade education or a GED.
How do I apply?
We suggest you give our apprenticeship office a call at 800.554.4457. They’ll ask you some questions to determine your next steps – typically, you’ll go to a union hall near your area and submit an application there.
How long does it take to complete the program?
The Laborer apprenticeship program involves 6,000 hours of combined on-the-job and classroom training. This can take from 3 to 5 years to complete – and you’ll be earning a good wage at the same time that you’re learning.
Do I have to take a drug test?
Yes, drug testing is mandatory for everyone in the program.
Are housing and meals free during training?
While you’re attending classes at the Kingston or Satsop training sites, your housing and meals are provided free of cost.
Why do I have to have a valid driver’s license?
On some jobs your employer may require you to drive a company vehicle, so you must be licensed and insurable.
What if I want to be an electrician/carpenter/operator?
Laborers are a separate trade from these fields, and we do not teach these very specialized skills. But, because the scope of a Laborer’s work is broader, we’re generally the first workers on a job and the last to leave. That means more overall work hours for Laborers.
I’ve worked in another state – will my skills transfer?
If you can prove that you’ve performed Laborer work (by showing W2s and pay stubs), you might be eligible for training credit and/or a higher starting wage.
What if I just want to be a flagger?
You’ll learn flagging as part of your apprenticeship. The program is designed to make you a well-rounded Laborer, which will benefit you and your employer in the long run.
What advice can you give me?
Be willing to learn and expand your skills. Being well-rounded in your skills helps you by making you eligible for more types of work. Because Laborer work can be cyclical, that means when one type of work (for example, concrete) slows down, you can pick up other work, like asbestos abatement. The more skills you possess, the more work will be available to you.
We hope this gives you an even better idea of why the NWLETT program is so beneficial for so many people looking to start on a solid career path. But, of course, you might have even more questions; we welcome them. Give us a call at 800.554.4457 and find out if you’re ready to get to work with us.
Everyone knows senior year is all about getting into college, and then coasting on the knowledge that new opportunities are going to unfold before your eyes — complete with a shiny new dorm room, and all for a mere $23,600 per year… wait, what?
Let’s rewind. Attending college right after high school might be traditional. But so is making New Year’s resolutions, and how does that usually turn out? Of course, just like cutting down on those fried foods, there are plenty of good reasons people choose to go to college. It just doesn’t mean you have to.
Hands-on work is rewarding and engaging. It offers results you can see and touch, and it connects you with your surroundings. Yet many students who love working with their hands feel pressure to go to college and earn a degree — even if they don’t know what to study, and even if they can’t really afford tuition. It’s a lose-lose.
There’s another way: A construction apprenticeship with NWLETT lets you earn a living wage directly out of high school, with on-the-job training during which you get free housing and meals, and tons of opportunities for career advancement.
Need more convincing?
Here are three bad reasons to go to college:
1. You think you need a degree to get a job.
Hate to bust the college bubble, but a college degree doesn’t guarantee a job. With an NWLETT apprenticeship, you’ll have a paying job, starting at $18-$24 per hour plus benefits and a pension. You can absolutely earn good money, enjoy benefits and advance in your field without a degree.
2. You’re worried being a laborer means you’re not smart enough.
Totally false. Skilled laborers are innovative, creative problem-solvers who use modern technology to plan and build the world we live in. You know what’s smart? Not racking up astronomical debt for an education you’re not even sure you want.
3. College is just what you’re “supposed to do”!
Seventy percent of Americans attend a four-year college, but fewer than two-thirds of those graduate. Behind finances, the second most common reason they give for dropping out is a feeling that they didn’t belong. College truly isn’t the best path for everyone — and if you’re questioning it now, any small setback will only make that doubt grow.
And here are three great reasons to choose an apprenticeship instead:
1. You need to start earning a livable wage.
Money is the top reason students drop out of college. On average, college costs $23,600 per year — and if you don’t finish with a degree, you still have to pay for the classes you took. The NWLETT Apprenticeship gives you free training, job placement services and a paycheck. In four years’ time, you have the potential of earning up to $225,000, plus benefits and pension.
2. Your time is precious.
Paying for school often means working evenings, or holding a full-time job and going to night classes at the same time. When you get paid to receive training on the job, you keep your nights to spend how you want.
3. College is still an option later.
If you decide you want to further your education after the program, it’s easy to apply your job training hours toward earning a Multi-Occupational Trades A.A.S. — an associate’s degree that offers additional education for management-level positions.
Ready to learn more?
There are plenty of reasons joining a paid apprenticeship out of high school could be a better, smarter and more rewarding choice for you than starting college. Contact NWLETT to find out more!
If you’re at a point where you’re looking around to see where your life is heading – in terms of work and money – let me point you in a rewarding direction:
Construction is a hot career choice.
But I’ll get back to that in a minute. First, about choices in general.
Many of us grew up hearing that college was the path to success – but that game has changed. It’s true those with a college degree make more money over their lifetimes, on average. But what about all those people who went to college and it didn’t pan out? These days you’re just as likely to end up with a degree, tens of thousands of dollars in debt, and a job waiting ables while you send out resumes.
Or… you could get paid good money in a career-path position in construction. And you can start right away, with an apprentice program from NWLETT – one that provides free training, which includes housing, meals, and a paycheck!
So, back to that point about construction being hot. Money magazine reports that Indeed.com’s “25 Hottest Careers Right Now” for 2018 includes 10 – that’s right, nearly half – in construction. Project managers, estimators, superintendents… 10 different jobs that pay from around $80,000 a year to over $100,000.
So why does that matter to you? Because there’s a clearly identified path to those positions – and it starts with the NWLETT apprentice program.
It’s a way to quickly jump into satisfying work in a booming job sector. Here are a few things to consider about becoming a construction apprentice:
So… if you realize that it’s time to make a career choice, now you know about one great option. Ready to go? Visit www.NWLETT.org to get started!
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