MI labor unions start construction on worker training center
- The Michigan Statewide Carpenters and Millwrights Joint Apprenticeship and Training Fund on Monday began construction of a facility in Wayland, MI, where it will offer union construction workers skills training, according to MLive.
- The training center will allow carpenters and millwrights to earn practical experience in single-family and commercial construction, as well as infrastructure. The facility will also cross train carpenters and millwrights and provide welding booths and woodshop education as part of its services.
- The 67,000-square-foot training center, which sits on nearly 20 acres, is being built with the express purpose of tackling the skilled worker shortage in Michigan. Architectural and Construction Trades Michigan officials said it is partnering with the carpenters and millwrights union to build the training center, which is scheduled for completion in 2018.
The Michigan Statewide Carpenters and Millwrights Joint Apprenticeship and Training Fund joins the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters, which is building a $5 million training center in Salina, NY, and the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, which is renovating an existing building in Manchester, NH. That space will provide a hands-on training space and classrooms for approximately 400 to 500 workers.
Whether one espouses a union or nonunion philosophy, union apprenticeship and training programs, which typically allow workers to earn a paycheck while they are honing their skills, are generally acknowledged to provide valuable trade and safety training.
However, trade union members' access to this quality instruction is also at the heart of a New York City construction industry controversy.
Due to a spate of construction-related accidents that saw a higher-than-average number of workers injured or killed during the building boom that's taken the Big Apple by storm during the past few years, New York City lawmakers proposed Intro 1447, which requires that most construction workers on city projects take at least 40 hours of safety training. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the bill into law earlier this month.
Non-union construction and real estate interests have pushed back against the measure from its inception, calling it costly and unfair, as those who have been through a union apprenticeship program are exempt. However, anyone who has received similar training can also use that experience to meet the requirements of the new bill.
A previous version of the measure required that all workers go through an apprenticeship program. This was hotly contested by many in the industry's non-union sector, with critics arguing that the majority of such programs were union-operated and that they would place a financial burden on all but the largest companies.
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