Trade Up: Meet the Construction Craft Laborers (Part 2)

Trade Up: Meet the Construction Craft Laborers (Part 2)

Articles Blog


[Music] [Silence] It’s a hands-on concept, that would be
one of them, that would be more along the building end but within the building
contract there’s several different things that take place there’s the demolition
side of it, there’s the building construction side of it. It could be steel
frame building and we, we work with all the different trades so we do work with
con, or carpenters, we do work with ironworkers, sheet metal workers so as a
laborer, we’re working in and around all the other trades. Operators, actually with
our training we actually take our apprentice pipe layers, which is the class
that Reggie is in right now is our pipe class it is our longest class, it’s a three,
three week class and we actually go and cross train with the operators so we take
our class up to Coloma and it’s their third year apprentices that are actually
digging so we’re starting that communication, which is vital out in the
field early on so the training is actually done where you’re actually going to be
doing it out in the field. So our sewer and water type classes, it’s very important
that the laborer that put in the pipe in the ground, so we’re doing mainline sewer,
water, storm sewer pipe, very important that the operator and that laborer in the
hole have that communication right off the bat ’cause it may not be talking you
gotta know what the hand signals are, what wide eyes mean. [Laughter] I mean, it’s all things that you gotta get
started early on otherwise it just makes it that much harder to, to get
it figured out in the field. [Silence] Heavy highway’s going to be our
concrete or paving interstates, asphalt work, anything like that is gonna generally
fall under a heavy highway contractor. [Silence] Our entry-level testing or for a way to
become a candidate is what, you take a test. It’s an accuplacer test and a two
part test, 35 questions on each test, one reading comprehension and the
other is arithmetic. You need to get a score of 55 percent on the reading and a
35 percent on the arithmetic. At that point you’d become an eligible candidate,
it doesn’t make you an apprentice at that point in time and it does not make you a
union member. It just makes you an eligible candidate. One stipulation to
that, we’ve got, let’s say in the Madison area right now, we’ve got 73 apprentices.
All but 10 percent of that 73 have got to be back working before we could bring
on a new candidate. So that kind of protects the apprentices already in place
to go get back working before we bring on a brand new candidate. So that’s the
10 percent rule that we have for that. Once I’m able to give out the letter of
eligibility, they’re also given a list of signatory contractors to the union and
they go out and seek their first job. And once they find their first job, with
either a building, heavy highway or sewer water contractor, they come back
to me, we get them signed up with the state, they actually sign a contract
through the state, they are not actually an apprentice unless that contract is
signed and then we also get you signed up with the union of whatever local you’re
from. So if you’re in the Madison area it’s gonna be the yellow shaded area that
you would be working. And you may work outside of that jurisdiction there
as an apprentice but you’re going to belong to that local and that’s where
your dues and stuff like that will go to. [Silence] We pay them mileage to come down and
I don’t want to speak to the other trades but a lot of them don’t offer that and we
also house the apprentices so when they come down we pay for their mileage
from home and back again and they’re paid that mileage at the end of whatever
class they are but the one week class they’ll get paid at the end of that week
that way if somehow they get sick or they don’t show up we’ve got that money
on the back side but they also get a meal stipend at the beginning of the
week to carry them through that week and then also they get to stay on
unemployment. So they can collect unemployment while they’re going to
training, plus they’re getting a meal stipend and they’re also getting
put up in a hotel, which is about four miles
from our training center. [Silence] I will discuss with them, I’m not going to
find the job for them, you know, that’s part of the, the hunger part of it, if you’re
hungry to get a job you’re gonna go out and get the job and that’s kind of, we
want to make them responsible, they’ve got to give me their time every month so
when they’re out on the job I need to see their time that’s how they’re going
to get their raise. As an apprentice, for the laborers, you’re going to start
out at 80 percent of full scale, which currently is a high teen to a mid-23 as
far as wages are concerned and above that is your pension, insurance and
health. So a good rate starting out and every thousand hours of you working
you’ll go up five percent. So their first thousand hours of work, they’ll get an
increase of five percent, I’ll send them out a new wage statement, I also
send that to their contractor so they know what they should
be paying that apprentice. I’d like to say it’s lower but it’s probably
around 28, right around in there. We’ve been, you know, definitely marketing the
high schools trying to get that, at least that thought in their mind early on, also
giving an alternative to those that may not want to go on to college and giving
them, giving them another outlet and here again you’re earning while you’re
learning so you’re going through the apprenticeship, you’re not there with that
big debt at the end, you know, and not sure if you’re going to find that job, there
you’re making it along the way, if you find that this isn’t for you, then you’ve got
other alternatives but you’re not sitting with incredible debt behind you. Yes, definitely, I mean, from an insurance
standpoint that’s lot of times crippling to a contractor, lot of times they won’t
bring you on if you do not have a good driver record and Reggie will attest to
that, he’s kept his CDL and that’s another thing that I really push, is the CDL. That’s
going to keep you employed longer, I mean, it just makes you that more, that
much more versatile. And that’s what Reggie’s done and that’s what’s kept him
working so when he’s not maybe doing a building or a heavy highway, they’ve got
him moving equipment or moving some other material so it keeps
Reggie employed. [Silence] I believe the welding and the woodwork
you were talking about plays a good role because when you’re not using metal
forms out there in heavy highway in the residential area sometimes you switch
over to wood forms so that guy can be [indistinguishable] carpenter he wouldn’t
make anything accessible to form that concrete by wood so it’s, metal or wood
that works out pretty good, also math, that’s an important part too, math. Last year we had 573 statewide tests,
about 20 of those were placed last year, 20 percent of those. So we brought on
just over 113 new apprentices last year. Very good year. That was a big year, we
almost doubled our apprentice number from the beginning of the year we started
with 101 and ended with, at the peak, 213 apprentices and this year it looks to
be a similar jump, a lot of interest, a lot of people coming in and taking the, the test.
And there’s a lot of work out in the Madison, Milwaukee and in Menasha area
so quite a bit of work out there this year. And also as an incentive for new people
into the union we’re looking at 30 to 35 percent of our existing workforce
potentially retiring in the next four years. So we, we’re roughly around 7,000
strong in the state of Wisconsin so you take 30 percent of that, we need people
and we need them trained. So this is a very viable option and we, we want, we
want the people who want to be here. [Music]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *