Iron Workers Local 396 predicts another bustling year of work as projects ramp up

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By SHERI GASSAWAY
Correspondent

TOPPING OUT: Iron Workers Local 396’s Demetrius Smith unhooks the topping out beam on the main structure at the new Mercy Hospital campus at Interstate 270 and 64.
– Iron Workers Local 396 photo

Despite the ongoing pandemic, work was plentiful last year for Iron Workers Local 396 with the number of concurrent large projects, and Local 396 leaders are expecting another bustling year in 2022.

Local 396 Business Manager Mike Heibeck said two of the landmark projects that kept members busy last year were the new St. Louis Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium and training facility and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) West headquarters.

Other ongoing projects Local 396 members are working on include the Merchants Bridge replacement over the Mississippi River, the new Washington University Neuroscience Research and Development Building, the General Motors Wentzville Assembly Plant, the Missouri Botanical Garden and the new Anheuser Busch building.

RAILROAD BRIDGE: Work continues on the Merchants Bridge replacement project over the Mississippi River, which is a joint venture between Ironworkers Local 396 and Illinois Ironworkers Local 392. – Iron Workers Local 396 photo

‘PRETTY MUCH AT FULL EMPLOYMENT’
“We are pretty much at full employment,” Heibeck said. “In order to meet the manpower needs that we had in 2021 and those as we head into this year, we have quite a few iron workers from locals around the country working in our jurisdiction and have brought on around 30 probationary iron workers.”

Heibeck explained that a probationary iron worker is a member who has not yet entered the union’s apprenticeship program. He said they make 60 percent of journeyman wages and receive the same benefits as any other member, he said. The union has one year to make an evaluation on the individual on whether or not they will be entered into the apprenticeship program.

FINAL BEAM: Iron Workers Local 396’s Andrew Simshauser guides the final beam of structural steel at the new Anheuser Busch building in St. Louis. – Iron Workers Local 396 photo

“It’s a program that we have not used in the past,” Heibeck said. “But it has been a very good tool to help address the manpower needs and to get good feedback from our signatory contractors on whether or not each individual will have what it takes to be an iron worker.”

UPCOMING PROJECTS
Heibeck said in addition to the area’s ongoing projects, 2022 is looking promising for Local 396 with upcoming projects including, the BJC Queeny Tower Building, the Washington University Ambulatory Cancer Center, Phase 2 of the City Foundry, and Forsythe Point building and parking garage and the new University City Costco.

“There are numerous other good projects that are going to start this year as well, as long as everything stays as scheduled,” Heibeck added.

LOCAL 396 CAREERS
Iron workers install structural and reinforcing iron and steel to form and support buildings, bridges and roads. Local 396 journeymen earn $65.67 an hour, which includes wages and contributions to the pension and annuity funds, health, dental and vision.

The Local 396 apprenticeship program is four years. To learn more, call the training school at 314-644-1550 or visit ironworkers396.org.


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