LIMA — Unions have been an important part of the area workforce, especially when it comes to the building trades.
“I would say our expertise is probably just to supply the best manpower out there for whatever situation arises for the contractors, their supply and demand, and give them the best worker available out there,” said Rick Perdue, president of the Lima Building and Construction Trades Council and a business representative for the Sheet Metal Workers Local 24.
Lima Building Trades is made up of 16 trade unions with 2,500 craftsmen from around the region.
They have an apprenticeship program that helps people learn new skills.
“Most of our trades have a four- to five-year program, and through that time, they take training at night in classrooms and then they also are out working a 40-hour week and being trained on the job until that day they top out,” Perdue said.
The training covers a wide variety of topics.
“A lot of things have to do with safety, so that cuts down on injuries on the job. Also, there are a lot of programs that have to do with mathematical skills, blueprint reading and then with some of the trades they’re learning welding,” Perdue said.
The apprenticeship programs have helped hundreds of people get started in a career.
“Somewhere around 30 people to 40 people complete the class (each year). When they’re coming into our apprenticeship, it’s not just a job. This is a career that they’re coming into. This is for the rest of their lives, with good benefits and everything,” Perdue said.
As for the viability of unions, Perdue is confident they’ll be around for a while, and the gains they’ve made can be seen everywhere.
“I think they’re very viable. A lot of the working conditions that’s out there right now in the construction field is because of the union,” Perdue said. “We represent those that they are signatory with us, and we also watch out for those that are not signatory with us too because there’s prevailing wage work out there that. We set the standards for that, and with the way the market is nowadays, everybody has had to step up their game to be competitive with pay and benefits.”
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.