Four years ago, Local 361 apprentice Rob LeFurgy wasn’t even sure what an ironworker did. All the decorated Iraq War veteran knew for certain was that he sorely missed the brotherhood and sense of higher purpose he had known serving in the U.S. Army. Becoming an ironworker, however, has gone a long way toward satisfying those intense feelings of longing and restoring the 28-year-old’s hope in a brighter future.
U.S. military service and unionism go hand-in-hand—and always have. Working people stormed the beaches of Normandy, waded the rivers of Southeast Asia and planted dusty boots on the deserts of the Middle East.
After serving their country, many veterans have trouble transitioning into civilian jobs, particularly younger and female service members. The unemployment rate among all veterans ages 18–24 is 21.3% (compared to 13.1% of civilians. And while male veterans have an unemployment rate (4.2%) lower than the national rate, female veterans are much worse off with a 7.9% unemployment rate. Helmets to Hardhats, the International Training Institute and the construction trades are trying to do something about that problem.
On the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, here's a little "Throwback Thursday" recognition of the veterans who rebuilt the World Trade Center and became highly skilled members of the union building and construction trades through the Helmets to Hardhats apprenticeship program.
The Boilermakers (IBB) union places its apprentice training program at center stage every year by hosting a national apprenticeship competition. The competition is a pressure cooker: Over the course of four 10-hour days, apprentices are tested on the entire four-year Boilermakers apprenticeship curriculum and acquired hands-on skills.
Today’s military veterans face one of the toughest job markets in decades, and their unemployment rate is significantly higher than the population at large. But thanks to the Helmets to Hardhats program, which connects veterans with quality career training and employment opportunities within the building and construction industry, many veterans are now on ascending career paths.
A recent Philadelphia Inquirer feature focuses on two U.S. Marine Corps veterans who are putting to work the training and opportunities provided by Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 19 in South Philadelphia.
The NFL referee lockout is a complete disaster—something that’s obvious to everyone except (supposedly) the people keeping the referees locked out. Much ink has been spent on decrying the replacement referees and how they’re ruining football (never mind how they’re putting players’ safety at risk). What hasn’t gotten much attention in this lockout is symbolic of a much bigger issue: Training for a high-performing workforce matters.
The union movement is the largest workforce trainer of adults outside the U.S. military.
The Tappan Zee Bridge in New York will be replaced through a union-public-sector partnership involving 14 building trades labor bodies and the New York State Thruway, a project that will create thousands of family-supporting jobs and save taxpayers $452 million.