By Glenn Haege
(All rights reserved)
Don't forget real reason to celebrate Labor Day
For most people, Labor Day weekend means the last chance to enjoy some summer fun before the kids go back to school and the weather gets cooler. But the first Monday of September, is really a celebration of the labor movement and dedicated to the contributions made to the prosperity of our great country.
In the building industry, labor unions and their members have been responsible for constructing just about everything in our society. Earning a journeyman's card through one of the building trades' apprenticeship programs was the career path for many high school graduates. These apprenticeship programs remain popular.
"We offer a five-year program and have 20 apprentices in our spring class and 20 in the fall," said Frank Wiechert, the business manager for the Pipefitters Local 636 in Farmington Hills. "Once they earn their journeyman's card, they can get work anywhere in the country where a member contractor has work available."
Local 636 members are part of the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry, www.ua.org, whose members work in the fabrication, installation and servicing of piping systems. This includes welders, steamfitters, pipefitters, refrigeration techs, HVAC installers, plumbers and service techs.
While there are currently a lot of jobs and overtime work for journeymen in Chicago and Canada, where there are some big projects under way, there is also work right here in Michigan, Wiechert said.
Other unions with locals in Michigan that represent building trade members in the state include:
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, www.ibew.org, represents approximately 675,000 members who work in a wide variety of fields, including utilities, construction, telecommunications, broadcasting, manufacturing, railroads and government.
The Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, www.hammer9.com, represents more than 20,000 journeypersons and apprentice carpenters in our state.
The United Brotherhood of Carpenters, www.carpenters.org, is a national carpenters organization and one of North America's largest building-trades unions, with nearly a half-million members.
The Sheet Metal Workers' International Association, www.smwia.org, represents 150,000 skilled craftpersons throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Sheet metal workers perform architectural sheet metal work, fabrication, installation and service of heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems, as well as shipbuilding and rail work.
The International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, www.bacweb.org, represents craftworkers in the trowel trades across the U.S. and Canada including bricklayers, stone and marble masons, cement masons, plasterers, tile setters, terrazzo and mosaic workers, and pointers/cleaners/caulkers.
The Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council,www.michiganbuildingtrades.org, supports the interests of nearly 100,000 construction workers.
The International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union, www.ironworkers.org, commonly known as the Ironworkers union, represents 120,000 ironworkers in North America who work on bridges, structural steel, ornamental, architectural and miscellaneous metals, and rebar, as well as in shops.
The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, www.iupat.org, represents those who work in the finishing trades of commercial and industrial painting, drywall finishing, glazing, floor covering, and sign and trade show/convention display.
The United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers, www.unionroofers.com, has 22,000 members participating in 9 regional district councils across the country.
In addition to Labor Day, Irwin Tools is promoting the 2nd annual National Tradesman Day on Sept. 21. Learn more at www.nationaltradesmenday.com.
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