Barry Davies, Business Manager and Financial Secretary/Treasurer of Ironworkers Local 512, joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss how the Ironworkers apprenticeship program has grown and evolved.
He also discussed the likelihood of the $1.3 trillion infrastructure bill eventually passing and if it passes, whether the Ironworkers will be able to meet the increased demand for skilled workers.
Apprenticeship programs evolve with a greater focus on safety
Two Ironworkers Local 512 apprenticeship classes were added in the last year, bringing the total number of apprentices involved in the program to about 225, Davies said. Due to the Local’s large jurisdiction, the apprenticeship classes are held at three training centers located in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.
The apprenticeship program is entirely independent of tax dollars, with $1 of each member’s hourly pay funding the program. The apprenticeship was three years, but has been expanded to four years to encompass a wider range of training, with an increased focus on safety, he added.
If passed, Infrastructure bill would fuel growth of apprenticeship programs
Davies is confident the $1.3 trillion infrastructure bill will eventually pass, he said. The bill would put many people to work and will be good for America’s working class.
In 2007, the I-35 West Bridge collapsed in Minnesota, killing 13 people and injuring 145. This tragedy occurred within the jurisdiction of Local 512, so area residents understand the critical need for infrastructure improvements, Davies said. Local infrastructure has been given a C- rating, and if the infrastructure bill passes, this grade should improve.
He added Ironworkers Local 512 will be able to meet the increased worker demand for skilled workers if the bill passes. If the work is available, apprenticeships can be expanded to meet any need. There is not a worker shortage, but a job shortage.