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.