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2606 California Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15212

Second Annual Apprentice Awareness Day

August 8th, 2012

123001_1 The Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trade Council (AFL-CIO) invited apprentices from 113 locals throughout Pennsylvania to attend and meet with their elected official from their home district.  In doing so, the apprentices helped make our lawmakers aware of the importance of Registered Apprenticeship in Pennsylvania, the continued support of apprenticeship and building a shared vision for the 21st century.

Our own Mike Coffee was one of three to speak at the event.  Below you will find a copy of Mike's speech to Pennsylvania lawmakers in the Main Rotundra of the State Capitol.

My name is Michael Coffee and I am a third year apprentice.  I owe much of my accomplishments to a union apprenticeship program and its family sustaining wages and benefits.  Since joining the Cement Masons Local # 526 three years ago, I have gotten married, had a child, and am currently purchasing a new house. The wage rates set by collective bargaining helped make these things possible. The money I spend on food, clothing, and housing sustains the economy by putting my earnings back into the local community, helping to create a more stable economic situation for Pennsylvania.

The education and training I receive through the union apprenticeship program makes me a valuable asset in helping to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. As a country, we are in need of a new generation of craft workers to carry out this monumental task. I ask you to recognize and seek the workforce that has the knowledge and ability to realize this goal. The Training provided by the Local Unions who make up the Pennsylvania State Building Trades can make this possible.

Before Joining the Cement Masons Union, the contractor I worked for had no apprentice or training programs, safety training, or regard for the advancement of the worker. I have seen how a lack of training and education can adversely affect the outcome of a project. It drives up labor costs by way of inexperience, increases workplace accidents due to a lack of proper training, and does little to allow for the development of the worker, causing morale to decrease. Those are some of reasons why I made the decision to join a union.

When I met with my elected officials today, I talked to them about the importance of apprenticeship and training programs, asking them to ensure there is a place for fair wages, benefits, and education in Pennsylvania’s economy. There are thousands of Union apprentices in Pennsylvania, and we all deserve a chance to realize these things.