Tile Setters Local 18 apprentice credits MOWIT, BUD program for help landing career

BRIGHT FUTURE – Raine McDevitt, who says she loves her work, joined Tile Setters Local 18 as apprentice after learning about building trades careers through Missouri Women in Trades and the St. Louis Building Union Diversity (BUD) program. – Photo courtesy of Raine McDevitt

Missouri Correspondent

Raine McDevitt worked in the restaurant industry as a hostess, server and bartender and then COVID 19 hit. She was tired of never knowing how much she would make in tips, not having benefits and having a job that dealt directly with the public.

Following the restaurant stint, she did an internship for a web development company, but wasn’t happy with sitting in an office all day. Then she ran across Missouri Women in Trades on Facebook (MOWIT), and everything changed. MOWIT is dedicated to expanding opportunities for women to enter and succeed in apprenticeships and careers in the St. Louis-area building and construction trades.

“I saw they had monthly meetings for women interested in the construction industry so I went to a meeting,” said McDevitt, who has a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. “They were so welcoming and excited about working in the building trades. They told me about the St. Louis Building Union Diversity (BUD) program, and I applied for it and got in.”

The Missouri Works Initiative’s BUD program is six-week program that serves as a recruitment tool to encourage more minorities and women to get into the union building trades. It provides pre-apprentices with the opportunity to visit participating local building trade unions to give them hands-on basic training and a feel for each of the trades.

“I liked the Tile Setters program because it was kind of reminded me of my ceramics class in college,” said McDevitt, who graduated from the BUD 27 cohort. “Plus after experiencing some time learning about that program and meeting everyone, I just knew they were my people. Everyone has been so supportive, and I just love my work.”

McDevitt, who has great attention to detail and loves working with her hands, is currently working as a tile finisher, which means she mixes mud and puts grout between the tiles after a tile setter places the tile. She is hoping to take part in a two-year program offered through the union to become a tile setter one day.

“We’re blessed to have her,” said Mike Weber, Local 18 president. “I wish we had a 100 like her. She shows up on time, she’s teachable, she’s smart and active in her union.” Anytime we need her – like if we have a picket – she’s the person to count on. I wish we had her when we were fighting so-called ‘right to work’ in 2018.”

McDevitt was recognized at this year’s MOWIT Blue Collar Black Tie Awards Gala for having joined a building trade as an apprentice in the last year. She joined Local 18 in January.

She also spoke about her positive experience in the BUD program over the summer at a St. Louis event that was a part of a North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) national multi-city road tour to demonstrate how union-trained workers are prepared to meet the moment after the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

The BUD program is recognized as a comprehensive apprenticeship readiness program (ARP) by NABTU. It offers enrollees a comprehensive introduction to construction employment by using NABTU’s nationally recognized Multi-Craft Core Curriculum (MC3) providing relevant national skills certification training, with a particular focus on job safety.

The program, offered at no charge to select individuals who meet the admission requirements, has a 92 percent graduation rate and holds four cohorts each year. For more information on the BUD program, visit moworksinitiative.org.

Founded in 2008, MOWIT provides tradeswomen with support group meetings, job information and referrals. Support group meetings are the third Thursday of each month at from 4 to 6 p.m. at the AGC Training Center at 6301 Knox Industrial Ave. in St. Louis. RSVPs are required and food is provided.

The non-profit organization also maintains a work list as a resource to the construction community. For more information, call 636-926-6948 or visit mowit.org.

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