Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562 graduates fourth class of CHAMPIONS

PLUMBERS & PIPEFITTERS LOCAL 562 has graduated its fourth class of “Champions” pre-apprentices and seen each of the 11 students placed in apprenticeships with local contractors, who celebrated their accomplishments in a ceremony July 28 at Local 562’s training center. – Labor Tribune photo


Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562, in partnership with the Mechanical Contractors Association (MCA) and the Plumbing Industry Council (PIC), graduated its fourth class of CHAMPIONS on July 28 in a ceremony at Local 562’s training center in Earth City, Mo.

“Champions” is an intensive six-week program that sets pre-apprentice participants on the path toward rewarding careers with good pay, benefits and opportunities for professional growth as they develop their skills as union tradesmen and women.

“Champions” is an acronym for Creating Hometown Advantages for Minority Participation in Our Neighborhoods.

Fred Searcy, Local 562 director of minority recruitment, said the union started the program to raise minority numbers and give participants a chance to hone their skills.

Today, it has grown into much more, providing a clear advantage to those interested in starting a career in the trades.

Local 562  Business Manager John O’Mara said the program benefits the students, the union and its contractors.

“These young men and women have found a real opportunity for themselves,” O’Mara said. “We give them the opportunity, but they put themselves in a good spot to take that opportunity. They’ve done some things before they got here that made them ready to roll with our program. And these last six weeks have been pretty neat for them. They’ve become a very tight group of men and women.

“The men and women who start out in this field and don’t go through this program don’t get the advantage of getting your OSHA card and getting some free training and seeing job sites before they get there. These guys have. They’ve listened to some seasoned veterans of our organization, in the community, and on the job sites.”

O’Mara thanked the participating contractors for their work with the program.

“None of this happens without our contractors in the MCA and PIC. We brought this program up, but they have really taken it to a different level.”

And O’Mara thanked the graduates for what they are doing to help the union to grow and innovate.

“We need new ideas, we need fresh ideas, we need a new group of people to come into this organization in a different manner than a whole lot have to bring our organization even to a better level. We’re proud to have them here and we’re excited that they’re here today. These past six weeks each student has grown and put in the work. They might be nervous for their first day but they are eager to learn and get better.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about you guys,” O’Mara told the graduates. “You have a great career ahead of you. I know our members in the field are ready to embrace you and teach you all as much as they can.”

This year’s graduates and the companies where they’ll be apprenticing are:
Romans King – C&R Mechanical.
Deondre (Dre) King – Corrigan Co.
Gregory Morris Jr. – Deluca Plumbing.
Antione Cooper – Haberberger Inc.
Katelyn Wade – Icon Mechanical.
Darrell (Rell) Davidson – IFS.
Chance Lotts – Jarrell Mechanical Contractors.
Nitozake (Sake) Ambonisye – Murphy Company.
Shavon Naumann  – Murphy Company.
Carlos Luna – Waldinger Plumbing.
Gerrald (Jerry) Beaven Jr. – Waldinger Plumbing.

One of the graduates, Deondre King, who was selected by fellow graduates to speak for the class, said, ”This is a great opportunity for all of us. A lot of people came here not really knowing anything. But they made sure they prepared us to make sure we’re prepared for our career and everything. I’m thankful that we all got this opportunity and I hope we can all have a long career.”

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