By TIM ROWDEN
The building trades’ BUD (Building Union Diversity) program graduated its eighth class recently with a ceremony at the AGC Construction Training School in St. Louis.
Eight people participated in this class, visiting the training programs of Bricklayers Local 1, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1, St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council, Operating Engineers Local 513, Cement Masons Local 527 and Floor Layers Local 1310.
Participants also received OSHA 10 training so they are ready to work safely on the job
“The people who came through this program really gave of themselves to get here,” BUD Project Manager Jim Duane of St. Louis Community College said. “Some had to give something up to start something new. But they still have to pay bills, there’s still things that have to get done. This isn’t about a job though, it’s about a career.”
The BUD program was launched in 2014 to bring more minority and female workers into the union trades in a unique partnership of the St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council, the Eastern Missouri Laborers District Council and St. Louis-Kansas City Regional Carpenters Council, with funding help from the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE) and the Missouri Division of Workforce Development.
Participants in the program also receive support from the United Way, to help with issues such as car repairs or other problems that may be preventing them from getting or keeping a job, and Metro, which provides bus passes for participants needing transportation
GETTING ON THE CAREER PATH
For participants who complete the program, finding that job that puts them down the career path is key. BUD helps with that as well, putting participants in contact with union representatives who can direct them, and union contractors who can hire them.
“We’re not just going to put people in training to be trained,” SLATE Executive Director Michael Holmes said. “If 85-90 percent of a class are not employed, we don’t start a new class. We want to be sure a class is all employed before we start training someone else.”
APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAMS MAKE IT WORK
Pat Dolan, apprenticeship coordinator for the Missouri AFL-CIO and president of Sprinkler Fitters Local 268, said none of it would be possible without the cooperation of the apprentice training programs of the various building trades unions.
“They really help us,” Dolan said. “We couldn’t do it without them.
“The training departments don’t have to do this,” he said. “They volunteer their time and their staff to make it possible.”
John Stiffler, executive secretary-treasurer of the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council, was optimistic about the job prospects for the current class and for current union members in the St. Louis area.
“Where I sit on the St. Louis Building Trades, the future looks bright,” Stiffler said. “We have pre-job meetings nearly every day. We have tons of work coming up in the city. You’re going to earn a good living. You’re going to have benefits. You’re going to have health care. It’s not a job, it’s a career. It’s more than a paycheck.”
All of which was good news to Jarvis Hollins, 23, who came to the program through SLATE.
Hollins was studying engineering at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph but felt he would have better and more immediate job prospects getting into the trades. He’d like to become an electrician.
Eddie Hayes III, 37, was referred to the program by his sister, who learned about it through her involvement with Connections to Success, which works with individuals and families to help break the cycle of poverty.
“I’m actually getting into a career and getting down a better path rather than just getting a weekly check,” Hayes said. “I’ve got kids, a son and a daughter, and I’m looking to the future.”
People interested in signing up for future BUD classes may contact SLATE at (314) 657-3545.