Union Breaks Ground for Regional Training Center
THE BOILERMAKERS UNION broke ground Feb. 9 on a new regional training center in Salt Lake City designed to provide advanced welding instruction to journeymen, apprentices and helpers.
J. Tom Baca, International Vice President for the Western States, said other Boilermaker skills such as fabrication and rigging will also be taught; however, the emphasis will be on turning out top welders to address industry shortages. “We want to make sure that union Boilermakers who are some of the best welders in the world are available to the contractors and owners that need them to get their jobs done on schedule and on budget. This facility and others we have planned will allow us to address the growing demand.”
The Salt Lake City facility is named for International Rep Jim Cooksey as the J.G. Cooksey WSJAC Boilermaker Training Center.
AZZ/WSI will provide robotic welding machines and training; Lincoln Electric will provide equipment for 30 welding stations. Financing for the facility is being provided by Bank of Labor.
IVP Baca and the Western States Joint Apprenticeship Committee hosted the groundbreaking, which was attended by IST Bill Creeden, International staff, Western States business managers, Bank of Labor officers, contractor representatives and other guests.
Baca said a total of eight new regional training centers are being planned to bolster the eight local lodge training facilities throughout the West. Part of the growing demand for qualified Boilermakers comes from oil refineries in California, he noted. State law now requires that at least 60 percent of workers who maintain those refineries (there are 19) must be graduates of an apprenticeship program certified by the state.
“California is going to be short thousands of Boilermakers,” Baca said, “and there’s going to be a lot of opportunity to bring in nonunion members.”
He explained that nonunion workers have been enthusiastic about joining the Boilermakers and the opportunity for better wages and benefits. “They can’t believe . . . that they actually get healthcare for their children and their wives, not just themselves, and that they have a pension they can retire on.”
The center will be located at 1965 Bending River Court, near downtown Salt Lake City and the area’s international airport. Construction is expected to be completed in late summer or early fall 2017.