Area Building Trades councils honored for community outreach

At the Ayers Award ceremony (L to R): Duluth Council President Craig Olson, NABTU President Sean McGarvey, Dan McConnell and Jenny Winkelaar of the Minneapolis Building Trades, Minnesota Executive Director Carly Melin, Minneapolis President Dave Ybarra, St. Paul Executive Secretary Don Mullin, St. Paul President Tom McCarthy and NABTU Secretary-Treasurer Brent Booker. submitted photo

Local Building Trades unions have put an emphasis in recent years on reaching out to make more women, veterans and people of color aware of their registered apprenticeship programs and the middle class career opportunities they make possible.

Those efforts earned national recognition Wednesday in Washington, D.C., when North America’s Building Trades Unions presented the St. Paul, Minneapolis and Minnesota Building Trades councils with the annual Mark H. Ayers Community Achievement Award.

After the longtime president of NABTU died in 2012, the organization created the award to honor Ayers’ passionate belief that Building Trades unions are a force for good in their local communities.

Tradespeople deliver value to communities not only on the jobsite, Ayers believed, but also as stewards of their registered apprenticeship programs, which create a pathway for thousands of people across the country to get good jobs with family-supporting benefits and a secure retirement.

In presenting the award to the St. Paul, Minneapolis and Minnesota councils, NABTU recognized several union-driven initiatives piloted here – and replicated across the country – that recruit and prepare people for construction apprenticeships.

Construct Tomorrow. In this program, representatives of different Building Trades apprenticeships set up interactive, hands-on exhibits in a school gymnasium, rec center or other public space, offering young people an opportunity to try out more than a dozen different construction crafts in the same day.

Minnesota Trades Academy. This paid summer internship brings teenagers from a handful of urban schools into several different unions’ training facilities, where they spend their days learning from registered apprenticeship instructors.

Outreach into public schools. Building Trades councils have been aggressive in cultivating new relationships with public schools, so that students, counselors and technical-education instructors are more aware of the opportunities available through unions’ apprenticeship programs.

Don Mullin, executive secretary of the St. Paul Building and Construction Trades Council, credited the award to the “broad efforts” of the council’s affiliate unions, as well as the vision laid out by his predecessor in office, Harry Melander, who now serves as the top officer of the state Building Trades council.

“All of our affiliates have had a hand in earning this recognition,” Mullin said. “We’ve worked together – in St. Paul, Minneapolis and statewide – to create opportunities for people across our state to take advantage of construction apprenticeship as a pathway to the middle class. And we’re proud of that work.

“President Ayers was a strong believer in community, that as Building Trades union members we live and work and volunteer in our communities. To be associated with his legacy is an amazing honor.”

The University of Minnesota’s Labor Education Service produced the video below for the 2018 Ayers Award ceremony.


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