Learning to ‘Be prepared’
By CARL GREEN
East St. Louis – The Boy Scouts of America have a list of principles that are tough to live up to, but they cover about everything needed for success on a jobsite.
That’s what the 15 Boy Scouts visiting Ironworkers Local 392 union hall here learned Nov. 2 at a merit badge workshop.
Together, the Scouts and Jeremy Lange, a Local 392 member and Scout leader, rattled off the 12 points of the Scout Law: “A Scout is…
“If you guys can bring those things to the job site, I can’t tell you how much it will help us out,” Lange said. “Every boss is going to agree with me. You can learn the technical stuff, but these principles are what we need brought in that we can’t teach every day.
“We want you to come on board and show these things you’ve learned to everybody else.”
The Scouts, mostly young teens, came from across the St. Louis region and were working on the American Labor Merit Badge. After meeting with Lange and Local 392 Business Manager John Schmitt, they had a hands-on chance to learn how virtual welding systems work.
‘LEARN HOW TO LEARN’
Lange also told them that in school, they need to learn how to learn because there will be so much learning to do on the job.
“We encounter new things every day here,” he said. “The ability to learn and figure out problems is the best asset you can bring.
“The complexity of it all is increasing so quickly. We need you in school, studying as much as you can on everything and taking it seriously. Even if you think what you’re studying is never going to pertain to what you might be doing someday, it will.
“Just the fact that you’re studying and paying attention and learning it – that’s a skill in itself. That’s the biggest skill!”
THE UNION’S VALUE
Lange asked the Scouts what they thought would be the biggest concerns of American workers, and they came up with a pretty good list – safety, health, job security, personal finance and a good pension.
That’s where belonging to a union comes in, he added.
“If I go up and say something as one person, they might not take it seriously, but if we all go up as one voice, people are more apt to listen, You hold more cards that way,” he said.
“If the businesses are organized – which they are – then we can be organized. That’s what we do. We band together in the union to help our older members who came before us, and we also band together for our health insurance, so we can all help each other out.”
The famous photo of 11 Iron Workers having lunch while seated on a steel beam high above the New York skyline in 1932 was displayed prominently for the workshop.
Lange brought it to the Scouts’ attention, and noted that the workers pictured lacked hardhats or safety harnesses. The union, he said, demanded safety precautions and made them standard.
“Labor has brought this into the industry and required making it safer,” he said. “We demand safety from our employers on the job. We want them to provide it and make as safe a workplace as possible.”
That includes job training with reimbursement for the workers, he noted.
“We come to a middle ground and find ways we can keep getting training and get reimbursed for it,” he said. “Whatever it is, keep learning. It’s all going to help out.”
Inevitably, Lange got around to the importance of the Scouts’ famous motto: “Be prepared.”
“Always be prepared,” he said. “Always be in a state of readiness. Mind and body, do your duty. That’s what we need from you guys.
“When the job throws you a curveball, which it always will, be prepared, be ready. That’s what I want from you guys.”
Lange worked his way through the principles of the Scout Law, showing how each one can apply in the workplace.
“We help one another out,” he said. “If somebody falls on hard times or gets hurt, we band together. If somebody has problems, we can call someone, day or night.
“If you guys can bring a positive attitude and a willingness to work on the job, you can do anything. That will get you farther than anything else – a positive attitude and a willingness to work.”