Providing opportunities for military veterans in the trades

The building trades are in need of people who are prepared to work with their hands and understand the importance of teamwork. Programs are popping up all over the U.S. to recruit and pre-train these potential workers.

The International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Trades are advocating for people to choose a career in their trade. On the America’s Work Force Union Podcast, Mechanical Insulators Labor Management and Cooperative Trust Executive Director Pete Ielmini explained their efforts and how veterans make great tradesmen and tradeswomen. Ielmini also discussed how unions are taking action against companies who participate in union busting.

Helmets to Hardhats

There are many programs that help transition military service members to civilian careers in the building trades, such as the United Association Veterans in Piping Program and the Veteran’s Electrical Entry Program. However, Helmets to Hardhats is the most recognizable program.

Ielmini said Helmets to Hardhats has helped place service members into building trades careers that provide a family-supporting wage, great benefits and lifelong career skills.

Ielmini added that veterans have great soft skills that translate well into the building trades. Many veterans are punctual, great at following instructions and orders, able to work as a team and tend to be hard workers. These are all necessary qualities for a successful career in the trades.

Helmets to Hardhats was one of the first programs to be recognized by the national building trades. The organization has established relationships with building trades unions, including the Insulators Union, and helps them secure apprenticeships within the trade.

He told the story of a veteran who spent years searching for a job after transitioning out of the military. His military job involved aircraft maintenance, but he could not find a job repairing commercial aircraft. He came to the Insulators Union with his mechanic experience, his set of soft skills and was accepted into the apprenticeship program.

Union activity in 2021

Ielmini criticized past National Labor Relations Board members who banned the use of inflatable rats during labor protests. The practice is back, as President Biden nominated a new member to the board.

Although the inflatable rat has been a symbol within the labor movement for generations, Ielmini believes alternatives were better received. While it was banned, labor groups began using images of Uncle Sam instead of the rat, which was more inviting to passersby and even tolerable for some employers.


America’s Work Force Radio Podcast is available on iTunes, Google Play and wherever you stream your podcasts.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Google Podcasts

Listen on Spotify

Listen on iHeart Radio


AMERICA’S WORK FORCE IS THE ONLY DAILY LABOR-RADIO PROGRAM IN THE US AND HAS BEEN ON THE AIR SINCE 1993, SUPPLYING LISTENERS WITH USEFUL, RELEVANT INPUT INTO THEIR DAILY LIVES THROUGH FACT-FINDING FEATURES, IN-DEPTH INTERVIEWS, INFORMATIVE NEWS SEGMENTS AND PRACTICAL CONSUMER REPORTS. AMERICA’S WORK FORCE IS COMMITTED TO PROVIDING AN ACCESSIBLE VENUE IN WHICH AMERICA’S WORKERS AND THEIR FAMILIES CAN HEAR DISCUSSION ON IMPORTANT, RELEVANT TOPICS SUCH AS EMPLOYMENT, HEALTHCARE, LEGISLATIVE ACTION, LABOR-MANAGEMENT RELATIONS, CORPORATE PRACTICES, FINANCES, LOCAL AND NATIONAL POLITICS, CONSUMER REPORTS AND LABOR ISSUES.

AMERICA’S WORK FORCE RADIO IS BROUGHT TO YOU IN PART BY OUR SPONSORS AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF MUSICIANS, BMA MEDIA GROUP, COLUMBUS-CENTRAL OHIO BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION TRADES COUNCIL, COMMUNICATION WORKERS OF AMERICA, HEAT AND FROST INSULATORS AND ALLIED WORKERS, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MACHINISTS AND AEROSPACE WORKERS, INTERNATIONAL UNION OF PAINTERS AND ALLIED TRADES DISTRICT COUNCIL 6, KELLEY & FERRARO, LLP,  LABOR CITIZEN MAGAZINE, LABORERS INTERNATIONAL UNION OF NORTH AMERICA, NORTH COAST AREA LABOR FEDERATION, MARITIME TRADES DEPARTMENT, OHIO FEDERATION OF TEACHERS-AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS, UNITED AUTO WORKERS, UNITED LABOR AGENCY, UNITED STEELWORKERS.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.