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Season 5, Episode 118

IW Local 17 sees members finish first in apprentice competition

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Guest Name:


Rich Jordan

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IW Local 17 

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Rich Jordan, Business Manager of Iron Workers Local 17 in Cleveland, joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss hosting the recent Great Lakes District Council Apprentice Competition. He discussed the competition events, the next step for the two highest finishers and the purpose of the competition.

On May 31 and June 1, the Iron Workers Great Lakes District Council held their annual Apprentice Competition in Cleveland at Iron Workers Local 17. The Great Lakes District Council is made up of seven Locals: Local 3 in Pittsburgh, Local 17, Local 25 in Detroit, Local 55 in Toledo, Local 207 in Youngstown, Ohio, Local 549 in West Virginia and Local 550 in Canton, Ohio. Iron Workers International holds a competition for each Council’s representatives every two years. This year, two apprentices — first-place finisher Max Meese from Local 17 and Mark Vajen from Local 55 — will join the two top finishers from last year's competition — Tanner Stellmar from Local 207 and Brandon Kopko from Local 549 — as the Great Lakes District Council’s representatives in the International Competition.

Jordan discussed the seven parts of the competition over two days, including the 100-question test covering topics from the four years of their apprenticeship program. The competition also tests the apprentice's ability to weld and “burning,” better known as oxy-fuel cutting. Jordan also talked about the transit part of the competition, the architectural segment and the contestant’s ability to tie the correct knots in the rigging. The final part of the competition is the column climbing contest, which has apprentices climbing a 35-foot tall column to see who can get to the top the fastest, which Jordan said showcases the reason behind the “sky cowboys” nickname for Ironworkers.

The International competition will take place over four days in Chicago starting the first week of October. With over 100 apprentices competing, it’s not an easy competition to win, but Jordan has high hopes for his apprentice. He talked about the hard work that Training Coordinator Dan Strimpel has done to prepare apprentices to be successful journeymen and journeywomen in the union. Still, the competition is a fun way for apprentices to show off their skills and knowledge. Jordan said watching the future of the Iron Workers Union on display during these competitions is exciting and is the perfect example of why the apprenticeship program matters.

Listen to the show above to hear more from Jordan.


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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