Building Union Diversity (BUD) program graduates 11th class of pre-apprentices

CELEBRATING THE GRADUATION of Building Union Diversity’s 11th pre-apprenticeship class are (front row, from left) St. Louis Labor Council President Pat White, Missouri AFL-CIO President Mike Lewis, Missouri AFL-CIO Apprentice Coordinator and Sprinkler Fitters Local 268 President Pat Dolan, BUD graduates Arthur Hawkes (rear), Samantha Denny (front), Karla Jefferies (front), Tyler Thibeau (rear), Keesha Baldwin, KyShaun King, Cliff Waddy Jr. (kneeling), Racheal Whitlock (rear),Kelly Ervin, Eboni Bush, St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE) BUD Coordinator Charles Williams, St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer John Stiffler, St. Louis Metropolitan Sewer District Manager of Diversity Programs Shonnah Paredes and St. Louis Community College BUD Program Director Russ Signorino. – Labor Tribune photo

The St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council’s Building Union Diversity (BUD) program graduated its 11th class Oct. 24, setting 13 graduates on track for good paying careers in the building trades.

The BUD program was launched in 2014 to bring more minority and female workers into the union trades in a partnership between the Building & Construction Trades Council, the Eastern Missouri Laborers District Council and the St. Louis-Kansas City Regional Carpenters, with funding from the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE) and the Missouri Division of Workforce Development. Local unions open their training centers for the pre-apprentices during the five- to eight-week program to give them basic training and a feel for each of the trades. United Way and Metro also help, providing participants with transportation and assistance with other needs that may be preventing them from getting or keeping a job.

“This program doesn’t work with the help of all of the building trades opening their training programs to us,” said Pat Dolan, Missouri AFL-CIO apprentice coordinator and president of Sprinkler Fitters Local 268. These training departments don’t have to do this, they volunteer to help us. In St. Louis, we have some of the best training departments in the nation.”

For participants in the program, the results can be life changing.

“This isn’t a summer job,” Dolan said. “This is a lifelong career with benefits and hopefully, in the future, being able to retire with dignity.”


“You should be very proud of these people,” said Russ Signorino, director of the BUD program at St. Louis Community College. “They did a good job. Some days it wasn’t easy, but they all came back. They all put in the work. They all did a great job.”

The class got a special surprise with the graduation. The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, in town for the AFL-CIO Convention and the dedication of two newly union refurbished fishing piers in Willmore Park, partnered with Carhartt to provide each of the graduates with union-made work jackets, shirts, pants and orange Union Sportsmen’s Alliance stocking caps to wear on the job.

And getting a job is key. Several contractors came to the graduation ceremony at the Building Trades offices on Hampton Ave. and interviewed graduates on the spot.

Anyone interested in participating in a future BUD class should contact SLATE at (314) 657-3545.


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