Building Advantage Wisconsin

Archive: Jul 2009

Local Apprentices Compete in UA Contest

Steamfitters and Plumbers from across Wisconsin participated in a written and hands-on test for the United Association (UA) Apprentice Contest May 11 and 12. The competition, which dates back several decades, was recently brought back to the area in an effort to encourage apprentices to strive for consistent excellence on the job. General President Hite attended the banquet honoring the apprentices to emphasize how important this competition is to our industry.

The competition helps the apprentices in the pipe trades test their skills and see how they match up against the “best of the best,” with the goal of making it to the national competition in August.

Apprentices from the following locals participated:

  • Steamfitters Local 601
  • Plumbers Local 75
  • Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 434
  • Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 400

The tests were complex and took well over 10 hours to complete. “We wanted to make sure we threw realistic yet difficult situations at our apprentices,” said Pat Daniels, apprenticeship and training coordinator, Steamfitters Local 601. “At the end of the day, knowing what they accomplished in these two days is impressive, and we should all be proud of their efforts.”

This year was certainly one to remember, as each winner for the four competitions came from a separate Local. The winners included:

  • John Kysely, Local 434 – Welding
  • Jeff Madunich, Local 601 – HVACR
  • Matt Heus, Local 400 – Pipefitting
  • Larry Vance, Local 75 – Plumbing

Although the winners move on to the regional contest, and hopefully the national competition, it’s not just about winning. The competition also provides an opportunity for the members of the Wisconsin pipe trades to discuss work and life – and to simply spend time with their peers.

Not only were the apprentices up to the challenge, but the training coordinators and each Local also worked hard to make the contest challenging and rewarding. Thanks to everyone’s help and dedication to making this competition successful, the end result ultimately strengthens the UA trades in Wisconsin.

Recruiting Begins at Any Age

With a goal of introducing the benefits of a career in the union trades to students who may not otherwise be able to access that information, the 2009 Building Advantage Career Fair was a highly successful event that showcased our ongoing commitment to workforce development.

…Read on.

Langer Roofing’s Success

Hard work, training, communication and knowing that the customer always comes first are what Mark Langer, President of Langer Roofing and Sheet Metal, Inc., attributes to his company’s success over the past 53 years. It’s not easy to stay in business for half a century. Langer knows this firsthand, having been with company for many of those years. Langer started as an apprentice in 1986 and became superintendent in 1992. He noted that his hands-on experience in all aspects of the operation helps him know what it takes to make the business run.

…Read on.

Painters District Council 7

Take Five with John Jorgensen, Business Manager of IUPATDC7

Recently, John Jorgensen shared his perspective regarding the continually evolving construction industry and his leadership role within District Council 7.

Q. How long have you been in the union?

Jorgensen: I’ve been a member for 25 years – since I began my four-year apprenticeship in the 1980s. After my apprenticeship, I knew I would want to run for office because it had always been an interest of mine. First, I became a trustee to the apprenticeship and health funds, and in the late 1980s, I made it to the executive board level in the union. I also worked as a business agent helping out with grievances, job referrals and the like.

Q. What led you to become business manager and how long have you been the Business Manager?

Jorgensen: As I said before, I knew all along that I wanted to be in the union office helping our trade move forward. It made the most sense to run for this position. I like servicing our members and making sure that what I do each day is representative of how hard each of them work.

Q. How has your role as business manager changed throughout the years?

Jorgensen: In 1975, we had 25 local unions throughout Wisconsin, and by 2003, that number had dwindled to eight. At that time, we decided to develop a District Council for all the Painters and Allied Trades in Wisconsin, which changed my role as business manager. By forming the District Council, we could focus on moving the union forward with additional resources and manpower. This decision has allowed us to grow stronger, generate more revenue and spend more time on our members.

When I first became business manager in 1994, our resources were limited and I wasn’t able provide the level of service I wanted. However, when the idea of forming the District Council first came about, members were skeptical and not fully on board. They felt it was too autonomous and that the individual unions would lose their voice. With the merging of the health and welfare funds which led to an increase in benefits at no additional cost, members have now seen the direct benefits of this move.

Q. What accomplishments/growth have you seen throughout your tenure and in the industry as a whole?

Jorgensen: We are heading into an exciting era with the purchase of a new training center that allows us to “walk the walk.” We will finally have a true multi-craft center where the Painters, Glaziers, and Sign and Display Workers will be able to learn and hone their skills. The training facility will benefit both our members and employers.

Like many industries, ours is constantly evolving and we need to know how to use new techniques, equipment and products. With the addition of the training center to our District Council, we can stay on top of “green construction,” which we received a few grants for this year; and also look toward the future in commercial and infrastructure work. Upgrading our program directly affects our members. I’m proud to have been a part of securing the training center.

We have also taken a stronger role in securing more grants and have increased our efforts in our political activities. It’s not just about cutting politicians checks, but becoming involved with campaigns, being up to speed on legislation affecting our industry, and leading the fight to show our commitment.

Q. How has the relationship between the union and management changed over the years?

Jorgensen: It has definitely improved. Twenty years ago, we didn’t meet on a regular basis – we only met during contract negotiations and grievances. Today, with better relationships and both sides having an understanding of how the other operates, we are able to work together in a much less adversarial way. Knowing what it takes for a contractor to operate their business and vice versa allows us to make decisions that positively affect all of us.

Aurora Medical Center in Summit

Imagine a detailed, state-of-the-art medical clinic being completed ahead of schedule. That’s what the crews working on the new Aurora Medical Center in the Town of Summit have achieved. Aurora Health Care announced recently that the clinic portion of the medical center as well as the Vince Lombardi Cancer Center will open October 26, 2009 – ahead of schedule. The hospital portion of the medical center will open on schedule in early 2010.

…Read on.