Reunion for Building Union Diversity (BUD) graduates this Thursday, Nov. 29

CELEBRATING THE GRADUATION of Building Union Diversity’s 11th pre-apprenticeship class last year are (front row, from left) St. Louis Labor Council President Pat White, Missouri AFL-CIO President Mike Lewis, Missouri AFL-CIO Apprentice Coordinator and Sprinkler Fitters Local 268 President Pat Dolan, BUD graduates Arthur Hawkes (rear), Samantha Denny (front), Karla Jefferies (front), Tyler Thibeau (rear), Keesha Baldwin, KyShaun King, Cliff Waddy Jr. (kneeling), Racheal Whitlock (rear),Kelly Ervin, Eboni Bush, St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE) BUD Coordinator Charles Williams, St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer John Stiffler, St. Louis Metropolitan Sewer District Manager of Diversity Programs Shonnah Paredes and St. Louis Community College BUD Program Director Russ Signorino. – Labor Tribune photo

BUD program celebrates four successful years of increasing diversity in the building trades

The St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council’s Building Union Diversity (BUD) program is celebrating its fourth successful year increasing diversity in the building trades with a reunion for all of its graduates this Thursday, Nov. 29.
The event, which will include appetizers and drinks, will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. at the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council Union Hall at 1401 Hampton Ave. BUD mentors also are invited to attend.
BUD Program Director Russ Signorino said the reception is to celebrate the program’s success and the accomplishments of its graduates. Since the BUD program began, 142 participants have completed the five- to eight-week pre-apprenticeship and 120 (85 percent) have been placed in good paying jobs with union contractors.
“We’ve had many of our graduates ask how their BUD cohorts are doing,” Signorino said. “This is an opportunity for them to reconnect and catch up.”


RECENT BUD GRADUATE Frank Otis displays his certificate of completion while
being congratulated by (from left) St. Louis Building Trades Executive Secretary
Treasurer John Stiffler, AFL-CIO Apprentice Coordinator Pat Dolan, and St. Louis
Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE) representative Charles Williams.
Since it was launched in 2014, the Building Union Diversity (BUD) program has
graduated 142 pre-apprentices and placed 120 (85 percent) in good paying union

The BUD program was launched in 2014 as a recruitment tool to get more minorities and women into the building trades. It’s a partnership between the Building & Construction Trades Council, the Eastern Missouri Laborers District Council and the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council, with funding from the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE) and the Missouri Division of Workforce Development.


Local unions open their training centers for pre-apprentices enrolled in the five- to eight-week program to give them basic training and a feel for each of the trades. United Way and Metro provide participants with transportation and assistance with other needs that may be preventing them from getting or keeping a job.
At the end of the program, participants take part in a graduation ceremony. Local union representatives and signatory contractors with job openings attend the ceremony, often hiring the new apprentices on the spot.


In addition to the pre-apprentice training the program provides, BUD also offers support services participants including:

• Transportation to the training centers from a central location.

• Bus passes.

• A $50 weekly stipend.

• Safety equipment (boots, helmet, glasses).

• Work clothing (pants and shirts).

• A $150 tool allowance once indentured to an apprentice program.

• Discretionary support funding through the United Way.

• Mentoring after the program from Missouri Women in Trades and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.

• Transportation after graduation.


Anyone interested in participating in a future BUD class should contact SLATE at 314-657-3545.


To RSVP for the reunion, contact Signorino at 314-303-6082 or at


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