The 8,000 member Steamfitters Local 638, which performs pipefitting and fire protection work throughout the five boroughs, graduated 20 steamfitters from its five-year apprenticeship program this month.
Featured speakers include Gary LaBarbera, president of Building & Construction Trades Council of NY; Patrick Dolan, president of Local 638 and chairman and treasurer of Construction Skills; NY State Assemblyman Michael DenDekker (D-Queens-34); Richard Roberts, Business Agent At Large of Local 638, vice president of the Building & Construction Trades Council of NY and director of NYC Helmets to Hardhats; Tom Goodwin, training director of Local 638; and Anthony Saporito; executive vice president of Mechanical Contractors Association of NY, Inc.
Twenty-five percent of the graduates entered the program via the Edward J. Malloy Initiative for Construction Skills, a pre-apprenticeship program with an objective of attracting New York City public high school seniors, and another through Helmets to Hardhats, a training program to assimilate returning U.S. veterans into the building and construction workforce.
Over half the graduates come from minority communities. 30 percent are African-American, 20percent are Hispanic and 10 percent are Asian.
Steamfitters Local 638 invests some $100,000 per enrollee for its apprenticeship program in Long Island City, offering classroom and hands-on training to prepare students for middle-class careers in the construction trade.
These occupations pay a living wage that enables steamfitters to raise their families in the city where they work, along with healthcare coverage, disability protections and pensions at the end of their labor intensive career.
Steamfitters maintain what are effectively the hearts, lungs and arteries of New York City’s major buildings including the Freedom Tower, Empire State Building and Madison Square Garden.
Graduates included Victor Tineo, of East New York High School of Transit Technology in Brooklyn, entered Local 638’s apprenticeship program through Construction Skills.
“When I graduated high school, I didn’t really have a future. Local 638’s apprenticeship program was a way to help my family. My Local 638 classmates have become a second family to me. The program provided me not with only a job, but a career. Now at only age 24, the program has enabled me to purchase a house and get married. It’s truly the American dream,” said Tineo.
Tineo has worked on the design and install of air conditioning and heating systems in major New York City buildings, including Brookfield Place Barclay’s Center and the A&E Building. “I can be walking down many New York streets, look up and know I was part of that building’s construction.”