Union building trades apprenticeships can lead people to a prosperous life with great career skills. For generations, these programs have been the gold standard of construction training.
The members of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers go through one of these rigorous training programs, as apprentices learn the mechanical insulation trade. Insulators Union Local 6 Business Agent Jeff Saliba discussed apprenticeships and why the training is necessary on the AWF Union Podcast. He also discussed Prevailing Wage and other issues in the Boston area.
Registered apprenticeship in Boston
Boston has long been a proud blue collar town full of union members who understand the importance of registered apprenticeship training. Saliba said the Insulators Union Local 6 apprenticeship program remains vigorous. .
With a strong work outlook, Local 6 is in need of more apprentices, according to Saliba. While the COVID-19 pandemic caused some issues, the program managed to thrive despite these struggles thanks to the hard work of the instructors, apprentices, Local 6 and their signatory contractors.
Saliba said they are trying to bring more women and minorities into their ranks. Throughout the country, this is a common theme among the building trades. These groups stand to gain from a career in the union building trades through good wages and benefits.
He said every company should have some sort of apprenticeship or on-the-job training program. These programs ensure workers learn how to perform quality work. Conversely, a lack of training leads to hazardous work environments and a subpar product.
Of course, there are groups that push back on registered apprenticeship programs, like the Associated Builders and Contractors. For years this group has insisted that apprenticeship is not necessary. In the construction industry, the lack of registered apprenticeship training often leads to accidents and poor craftsmanship.
Unlicensed construction work in Boston
Saliba said unlicensed contractors still operate in the Greater Boston area. These unlicensed contractors take advantage of people by grossly underpaying their workers who are desperate to make money.
He does not blame the workers, who like most people, are trying to make a living. Saliba explained how the contractors are at fault. It is not fair to taxpayers in cases where unlicensed workers are allowed on job sites and perform less skilled work.
The Insulators Union is keeping up the fight to ensure only highly trained and highly skilled labor is allowed to work on taxpayer-funded projects and other projects crucial to the area.