Just last fall, the members of Boilermakers Local 132 proudly dedicated a $1 million training facility in La Marque, TX. Its goal: turn out union trained Boilermakers to meet the demand of the booming construction business. With plenty of work to go around, especially in the power plant sector, the resurgence of union trained workers is very evident. In Texas alone, there will be work for 3,300 Boilermakers in the next two years.
This new training center is equipped with a dozen welding “labs” and a pair of classrooms for book training and additional safety instruction. Apprentices come through the door with little or no welding skills and leave with free training and a job. Mark Thompson, business manager for Local 132, compares the facility and union hall to a temp agency; workers are sent to job sites on an as-need basis, the only difference; trained union Boilermakers earn a minimum of $23.47 an hour with full benefits. It is easy to see why many companies prefer union tradesmen; their training in the classroom and on the jobsite instills confidence in those that employ them. As Gary Haught, who heads APCom Power, a Houston based construction firm that specializes in building power plants puts it “We understand this training program and we know the instructors, so by the time the apprentice shows up at our location we pretty much know what he has been through.” Hiring an already trained and certified workforce means contractors save time and money.
With a training center pushing through 300 apprentices a year and a busy union hall up front, Local 132 is happy to see its membership grow. As we all know companies want their projects done on time and on budget. Having skilled tradesmen ready to work, and ready to work safe, is a step in the right direction for union construction to gain market share in the industry.