From the desk of Gary Peifer:
Brothers and Sisters,
As a member of the post-World War II “Baby Boomer” generation, I and many of the Journeyman in our Union are approaching or entering retirement. While that should be cause for celebration after serving the masonry industry for over 40 years, the leadership and retiring members in our Union are deeply concerned about the reluctance of some contractors, superintendents, and foreman to support and train apprentices on the jobsite. This culture of avoidance and the detrimental impact it poses to the masonry industry should and will be deemed unacceptable and addressed through both the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the BAC constitution and bylaws. Both of which were created to protect and mutually insure the future of the craft.
Your Union representatives and the Building and Construction Trades Councils are affiliated with securing a vast amount of work for our signatory contractors and members. Unfortunately, it will be of little value without the trained journey craftworkers to perform the work. The “Mission Statement” in our BAC constitution is based on growing and maintaining our Union and its crafts, but that allegiance of growth isn’t based on just organizing non-union workers, the element of success in that oath lies in our ability to efficiently train our apprentices and create our own immortality.
Some of our crafts, marble, tile and terrazzo have the advantage of the Finishers who work in support of the primary craftworker and thus receive a longer period of “hands on” training. The apprentice bricklayers, pointer-cleaner-caulkers, and refractory specialists do not and therefore require a daily routine of craft specific training to achieve journeyman status within the term of their apprenticeship to insure the crafts future and our Unions survival.
At the most recent MDC Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee meeting, the coordinator reported the current status of the bricklayer apprentice graduation rate for the past two years. It was less than half the required rate to replace the retiring workforce of the craft and a further indicator of the need to “correct” the attitude toward training. A recent IUBAC member survey disclosed that apprentices most often resigned due to lack of mentorship and the “on the job” commitment to train them at the craft.
To reverse this trend and increase graduation, the IU has introduced a course of mentorship training for both apprentices and journeymen. BAC 3 apprentices are currently receiving their training at the MDC and journeymen will soon be offered the six-segment course by registering with Secretary Treasurer Troy Garland through the Union Office. Your participation is crucial to the success of this program and our future as a Union.
In addition to this and the ongoing apprenticeship outreach to the students enrolled in the Building and Construction Trades MC3 (Multi-Craft Core Curriculum) program, the MDC Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee is committed to developing a bricklayer’s pre-apprenticeship training program. While this type of program is not new, it is the direction dictated to successfully graduate apprentices by recruiting those who express a genuine interest in our trades. This military style “Boot Camp” model has been successfully implemented by several of the other crafts in response to the demand for new craftworkers created by the Project Labor Agreements and Community Workforce Training Agreements we have been participating in. These agreements are creating tens of thousands of work hours for BAC Local 3 members and will only continue if we can successfully train the required craft workers.
In closing, I would remind all members that the success of our apprentices now will ensure your opportunity to achieve retirement. It’s our Union and it deserves our best. I would also like to extend a BAC 3 welcome to apprentice bricklayer, Dante Hand-Cannon, who recently graduated from Jane Fredrickson High School in Stockton. Brother Cannon joined BAC 3 as a result of being mentored while attending the vocational masonry class taught by retired BAC Journeyman Bricklayer Tom Miller. Thank you both for your commitment to BAC, may it serve you well.
Be well and share your knowledge, for it is truest form of immortality.