New painters training school provided state-of-the-art education for other trades

AN IRON STRUCTURE in the Painters and Allied Trades Training School might seem odd to some, but it’s a practical training tool to allow apprentices to spray on surface coatings and then learn to use abrasive blasting to remove it. Painters District Council 2’s Director of Training Tim Klotz (right) explains how the two-story structure – a building within a building- was built to Kansas City District Council 3 training director Dan Hink. Apprentices from Ironworkers 396 and Operating Engineers 2 built the structure. – Labor Tribune photo

Chesterfield – The dedication of the 75,000 sq. foot, $3.5 million Painters District Council 2 Training Center here not only will provide state-of-the-art opportunities for apprentice painters and journeymen wanting to broaden their skills, it has already provided valuable on-the-job training for apprentices of several other crafts – Iron Workers Local 396, Hoisting Engineers Local 513, Glaziers Local 513 and the Carpenters’ District Council.

Inside this cavernous building alongside the 82 mock up rooms and classrooms (technically educational fixture booths), there sits a huge two-story iron structure – almost a stunted building within a building – designed to emulate the iron framework skeleton of new construction. Here apprentice painters will learn how to strip, paint and work safely at high altitudes.

“Ironworker apprentices assembled the steel structure and it was beautiful to watch,” said project architect Charles Bell of Charles Bell Architects, Inc. Apprentices from the other unions were involved as well.


The ironworks, as well as the other structures inside the former industrial building, also turned out to be a challenge for St. Louis County building inspectors.

“This building is not something that exactly fits the county’s building codes,” Bell said with a smile at the dedication ceremonies Oct. 24 at the new training center, 10836 Eads Drive here.

To pass muster with the codes, the internal structures are termed “educational fixtures in a continuous state of construction.”

During his work on this project, Bell said he “came away realizing that this business of painting has developed way beyond just painting (and has grown) into a robust and technical field of environmental concerns, sophisticated products and preparation strategies.”


The Grand Opening was an exceptional event, bringing together labor and management in a positive demonstration of the working relationship that has developed in recent years between District Council 2, its contractors and the Painting and Decorating professional associations.

The crowd of several hundred included state and local public officials, officers from the Painters International Union, other Painters District Councils and building trades unions.

“Everyone involved put a lot of work into this effort to get this training center open,” said Gregg Smith, District Council 2’s special trustee and business manager of District Council 58 in Southern Illinois. “We appreciate the contractors and the industry showing their support for District Council 2.”

During the evening, a great deal of praise was given to Training Director Tim Klotz for his managing and coordinating the entire process.


Compliments for District Council 2 came from:

Harry Zell, Painters General Vice President for the Central Region speaking on behalf of Painters General President Jim Williams, noting the projected skills shortages in the construction trades, congratulated the union, contractors and industry for “coming together to address the needs of our industries, to ensure a skilled workforce with training in a variety of specialty crafts that are needed.”

Dan Wienstroer, executive director of the Painting and Decorating Contractors, made a cogent point about the cost of gaining the kinds of skills taught in the center:

“A parent can spend $35,000 or more to get a kid whose not really college material into a vocational school training program, but the cost to get the four years of training through the Painters apprenticeship program is zero. Is that a great bargain?”

He added that the cost is borne by the contractors and union painters who pay part of their hour wage into the training program.

Tony Darkangelo, CEO of the Finishing Contractors Association added:

“The education and training that happens here is second to none…most people just want an opportunity in life and this program provides that. This is a state-of-the-art facility. Everyone can be proud, and this is just the beginning.”

John Burcaw, Central Region rep, Finishing Trades Institute, complimented Klotz “who has trained a lot of apprentices as well as training instructors, including me. A tip of the hat to Tim, the leadership of the District Council and the contractors who pulled together something really special here.”

This is, he added, “a monument to building a better future for all of us…to building a better workforce…to elevate the union painters above their non-union counterparts on the job site. This training center shows that a union difference truly exists.”

Brian May, Gov. Jay Nixon’s regional director for the Eastern half of Missouri), presented a proclamation complimenting the District Council for “its steadfast commitment to working families” noting that the union “bears a gold standard of educating tomorrow’s leaders.”

The proclamation also complimented the Painters International Union for championing “charity, education and citizenship around the world.”


Serving as master-of-ceremonies was Gary Otten, the council’s director of political affairs, who pointed out that, “this is the real deal, not some teach-every-trade-and-craft in some inadequate classroom that a sham union promotes as its apprenticeship program.”

He proudly added, “We are self-funding this; no taxpayer money was spent on this building or its equipment.”


Among the key guests and officials attending were Kansas City Painters District Council 3 Business Manager Todd Doree, Congressman Lacy Clay, Missouri Treasurer Clint Zweifel, County Executive Charlie Dooley, Secretary of State candidate Representative Jason Kander, Rep. Vicki Schneider, Missouri Labor Department Director Larry Rebman and St. Louis County Councilman Mike O’Mara (Plumbers and Pipefitters 562).

Sitting on 10.5 acres, the new training facility more than triples the school’s previous training space and classrooms that were previously spread between five different buildings. It will accommodate 425 students.


Planning began in 2004. “Today, our school is raising the national industry standard for technique and safety training,” Klotz said.

Designed to be the country’s leading training facility for the finishing trades, it will develop advanced skills for residential and commercial painters, industrial painters, drywall finishers, paperhangers and glaziers.

Funding the center were the 2,200 members of Painters District Council 2, the St. Louis Painting and Decorating Contractors of America, Finishing Contractors Association, Glaziers Local 513 and the Architectural Glass and Metal Association.



Inside the new Painters Training Center


The Painters District Council 2’s new state-of-the-art Training Center is considered a national leader in training facilities.

It is the latest in the opening of, or announcements for, new union training facilities deemed to be industry leaders, enhancing St. Louis and Southern Illinois’ reputation for having the best skilled trades workers in the nation:

• Sheet Metal Workers Local 36 opened its $22 million nationally hailed training center in April in St. Louis City.

• IBEW Local 649 has upgraded its entire training facilities in Alton, IL.

• Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562 has announced a $12 million training facility to be built next year in St. Louis County.

“All our trades are keeping up with changing industry needs in their training programs, whether its new technologies, green construction or sustainability. They all want to ensure their members are current so that we continue to provide owners with value construction that our regional building trades are known for,” said Jeff Aboussie, executive secretary-treasurer of the St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council


The new Painters Training Center includes:

• Six classrooms equipped with audio/visual systems, a blueprint room, bench work space for initial technique training, two mock residential/commercial structures for interior and exterior training, one mock steel structure for industrial training, one spray booth and one abrasive blast booth. A mock commercial storefront will be added in 2013 for glazier training, including glass and framing fabrication and installation, and more.

• The mock structure for residential and commercial painters resembles a home, stands two stories tall and features 36 interior rooms with eight- and 12-foot ceilings, and varying window and doorframe treatments. Its exterior is siding and exterior insulation finishing system with multiple cornice and shutter layouts.

• Drywall finishers train in a second two-story, 46-room structure with eight-foot ceilings and radius and splay work. After three rounds of practice on each surface, drywall is removed and replaced to create fresh practice space.

• A two-story steel frame simulates industrial surface (interior and exterior) preparation and coatings application. Students spray on surface coatings and then use abrasive blasting to remove it. The structure also offers rigging and containment training.

(Facilities details from Coatings World.)

One Comment

  • Looking for training for two painters , the two are already painters but they want to have high performance in the field , we are working with the us embassy in yaounde cameroon, can someone orient us thanks.


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