Recently, the New England Laborers’ Tri-Funds joined efforts with several governmental agencies, contractors, skilled trade unions, construction industry associations and educational institutions to present Construction Career Days in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The events attracted nearly 3,000 students from school districts throughout the two states.
“Alerting young people to the potential of a career as a Construction Craft Laborer is one of our most important activities,” says LIUNA General Secretary Treasurer Armand E. Sabitoni who, also, is LIUNA’s New England Regional Manager. “We want earnest, responsible high school graduates to join our industry. Construction jobs pay well and offer many avenues of advancement, and, through our regional tri-funds, we offer the apprenticeship programs that can get a young person started in the right direction. We enjoy the chance to talk to these students and let them know about the services we offer.”
Rhode Island Construction Career Day
The Rhode Island event was hosted by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) and co-sponsored by the New England Laborers’ Tri-Funds. The New England Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund (NELHSF) coordinated the Laborers’ participation.
The two-day event was staged at RIDOT’s mid-state facility where students were presented with informational booths indoors and hands-on demonstrations outside. The impressive, fifty-foot long, Tri-Fund booth was staffed by employees from the three Funds who engaged students on the multitude of career opportunities available to a union laborer.
The NELHSF explained the importance of proper personal protective equipment and the necessary safety measures needed for various tasks performed by the Laborers while the New England Laborers’ Training Academy (NELTA) suited-up many enthusiastic students in HAZMAT gear. Additionally, representatives from the apprenticeship program and the New England Laborers’ Labor Management Cooperation Trust explained the benefits of becoming a skilled construction laborer. With all three Funds handing out literature and adorning the students’ hard hats with various decals and stickers, it was quite apparent that the Tri-Fund’s display was the focal point of all interior exhibits.
Outdoors, under a large tent, the NELTA set up its hands-on, interactive displays that allowed students to actually participate in various tasks such as cutting and burning exercises. The students were carved their initials in license plate-sized pieces of metal to take home as souvenirs. Additionally, the NELTA hauled in large pieces of formed concrete for the students to perform chipping exercises with pneumatic tools.
Massachusetts Construction Career Day
Several days later, the NELTA hosted and sponsored the second annual Massachusetts Construction Career Day at its Hopkinton training facility. Over 1,500 students attended the three-day event. The indoor displays were set-up in NELTA’s newly constructed, state-of-the-art training bays.
Once again the Tri-Funds were on hand to offer students information and pertinent literature on the benefits of becoming a construction craft laborer. As always the NELHSF stressed the importance of work place safety and healthy lifestyles.
Students were amazed by the wide range of skilled tasks that the industry has to offer. The NELTA transformed the training academy into several dozen construction sites with various construction unions performing their trades. The wide-eyed students were allowed to participate in many of the skilled tasks commonly performed by Laborers, including cutting and burning, concrete finishing, staging and scaffolding erection, confined space and hazardous material tasks.
The organizers and participants of the Construction Career Days praised the New England Laborers’ for their professional and comprehensive presentations. Both events were perfect examples of grassroots initiatives. They provided the Tri-Funds with the opportunity to reach out to the community – in this case, to students, teachers and parents – and educate and inform them about the Laborers’ International Union and the diverse and exciting career opportunities available in the construction industry.
[John Anatone is the New England Region’s Tri-Fund Field Coordinator.]