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Guest Name:


Charles Straley

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Building Futures 

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A perfect example of what a successful worker from a registered pre-apprenticeship program can become, Charles Straley, joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to talk about his journey from prison to the middle class with the help of the Building Futures Program, in Columbus, Ohio.

Straley shared his story where after he was released from prison, he was living on the streets, and returning to some of his problem ways. Then he was introduced to the Building Futures Registered Pre-apprenticeship Program. Given his background, Straley was skeptical he could achieve the dream of joining the middle class through the trades, but he took the leap and trusted the Building Futures program. It was only a matter of time before his life started to change. He got his first-ever driver's license, bought a car and started a family. His life was changed drastically after joining the program and becoming a member of Ironworkers Local 172.

For the first time in his life, Straley has a plan for the future, and the Building Futures paved the way for his success. Now Straley is serving as a trainer with Building Futures Program and helps recruit new prospects for the Building Futures program to give them the same opportunity he received. Being able to change his life to the extent he has is something he never thought possible, and every day, he’s thankful for the opportunity, Straley said. Now he serves as an example of what is possible for someone joining the Building Futures program and works to give more people the opportunity he did.

Recently, Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez visited Ironworkers Local 172, and Straley had the opportunity to lead the tour of their training center. He’s fought every step of the way to make the changes needed to succeed in the trades, and while it’s never been easy, Straley said that the struggles were worth it in the end. It’s been over five years since being introduced to the Building Trades program, and Straley recently celebrated five years of sobriety. When thinking about his future, Straley said, “The sky’s the limit with the trades, and who knows where it will take me next.”

To hear more about Straley’s story, please listen to the show above.


America’s Work Force is the only daily labor podcast in the US and has been on the air since 1993, supplying listeners with useful, relevant input into their daily lives through fact-finding features, in-depth interviews, informative news segments and practical consumer reports. America’s Work Force is committed to providing an accessible venue in which America's workers and their families can hear discussion on important, relevant topics such as employment, healthcare, legislative action, labor-management relations, corporate practices, finances, local and national politics, consumer reports and labor issues.

America’s Work Force Union Podcast is brought to you in part by our sponsors: AFL-CIO, American Federation of Government Employees, American Federation of Musicians Local 4, American Alliance for Manufacturing, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, Communication Workers of America, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 50, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Crafts, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 6, Ironworkers Great Lakes District Council, The Labor Citizen newspaper, Laborers International Union of The National Labor Office of Blue Cross and Blue Shield, North America, North Coast Area Labor Federation, Ohio Federation of Teachers, Survey and Ballot Systems, United Labor Agency, United Steelworkers.

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