Union to build 79,000-square-foot training facility adjacent to new headquarters
By TIM ROWDEN
Earth City, MO – Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562 broke ground Friday, Nov. 9, on their new state-of-the-art 79,000 square-foot training facility, located on five acres adjacent to the Local's new headquarters here at 3640 Corporate Trail Drive.
St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, Congressman Lacy Clay, State Senator Gina Walsh (D-Bellefontaine Neighbors), Local 562 Business Manager John O’Mara, UA General Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Kellett, Director of Training Kevin O’Mara, UA International Representative Mike O’Mara and other members of Local 562 took part in the ground-breaking ceremony.
“We are truly excited the members chose to help pay for this state-of-the-art training facility.” John O’Mara said. “It not only shows their commitment to our community but will ensure that future members will have the best training possible in the industry.”
O’Mara also thanked Local 562’s contractor business partners, including Kristy Stephens executive director of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Eastern Missouri, and Ray Hefner, Executive Vice President of the Plumbing Industry Council.
“These are the people that put us to work every day and we’re excited to team up with them,” O’Mara said. “We couldn’t do something like this if we didn’t have a contracting group that really knew what training was all about.”
MEMBERS PAYING FOR TRAINING FACILITY
OUT OF OWN WAGES
The new facility, which the members voted to pay for out of their own wages is scheduled to be finished in approximately 14 months. The new training facility will feature 50 welding booths, multiple technology-based classrooms and will be able to train new apprentices in the trade and current members in their continuing education classes.
Local 562 has more than 4,500 members and currently has more than 400 apprentices. The new facility will offer more opportunity for people interested in joining the piping industry to train and learn in one of the finest training facilities of its kind.
Patrick H. Kellett, general secretary-treasurer of the United Association Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders and Service Techs, extended special thanks to the union members and retirees.
“Our retirees set this system up that we all work under, our men and women that work every day out in the field, the organization that we’ve structured to train our members, to retire with dignity, the great healthcare that you have through the years. We all have a lot of gratitude for the members that set this up before us,” Kellett said. “And out contractors have been a big part of that.
“The UA is in good times right now,” Kellett said. “These are really great times workwise, and a great time to step forward when the funds are sufficient to prepare for the next 50 years for the men and women that come through the apprenticeship and the journeymen that are going to be honing their skills for years to come. I couldn’t be more proud of our home local, Local 562.”
SUCCESS AT NO COST
State Senator Gina Walsh (D-Bellefontaine Neighbors), a retired member of Heat & Frost Insulators Local 1 and president of the Missouri Building & Construction Trades Council, told the first-year apprentices in attendance they will have the tools and state-of-the-art training to be successful. “The only other thing needed in that success will be your attitude and what you do with the resources that they are providing you.”
To her colleagues in state government and municipal leaders, Walsh said “They do this with no money from us (the taxpayers), let’s remember that. Their unions dues do this. They choose to do this out of their hourly paycheck.”
Walsh presented O’Mara with a resolution from the State Senate recognizing and congratulating Local 562 for its years of service and contributions to the community.
Congressman Lacy Clay, whose father was a recruiter for Local 562 in the 1960s said: “For the young people that are going to be coming through this new training facility, take full advantage of it because you will learn the skill sets that you need to make it, to support your family, to better your community.”
WHAT BUSINESSES WANT
St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger said St. Louis County is experiencing a period of unprecedented economic expansion – $6 billion worth of investment in the past four year – in large part because of its trained union workforce.
“You know, we heard during the ‘right-to-work’ campaign that people didn’t to come to Missouri because the wages were too high,” Stenger said. “That’s just baloney, and I know it firsthand because when companies are looking to locate in St. Louis County and Missouri what they’re asking us is ‘Can we get our project done right the first time? Can we get our project done under budget?’ and ‘Can we get it done on time?’ And this is how it’s done, it’s apprenticeship programs, it’s training, it’s you guys who are out there who do this every single day. I can’t thank you enough for that.”
A BRIGHT FUTURE
United Association International Rep. Mike O’Mara, after thanking members and retirees for their commitment, spoke wistfully about the union’s apprentice program
“I wish I was part of an apprentice program for this next generation and generations to come,” he said. “We’ve got a bright future here in the St. Louis area and the 67 counties that we cover here in Missouri.
“I just want to thank each and every one of you, and especially the retirees who have set this up for us over the past 107 years. It’s great to be part of this. It’s a great investment, and it’s a bright future for Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562.”
CONSTRUCTION STARTING IMMEDIATELY
Construction of the new training facility will begin immediately. The current training facility is located at Interstate 270 and Lilac Ave., close to Local 562’s previous headquarters which was recently sold to the Saint Louis Zoo.
IMPACT Strategies of St. Louis, Missouri will be the general contractor on the construction of the new training facility.