Pete Ielmini, Executive Director of the Mechanical Insulators Labor Management Cooperative Trust, joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss potential labor shortages in the construction industry. Ielmini also discussed the Federal Mechanical Insulation Bill and the importance of programs like Helmets to Hardhats.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill has created an incredible amount of work for building trade unions. However, many unions are expecting manpower shortages in the years ahead. For non-union contractors the shortage could be worse. The main factor is the requirement that all large federal projects pay prevailing wage and be completed by employers with an accredited apprenticeship program, something most non-union employers don’t have or won’t support financially. Ielmini also discussed working with schools to promote entering apprenticeship programs instead of attending college as a possible option for more students.
Alternatively, there are programs available for people not in school, and one that Ielmini discussed is the Helmets to Hardhats program. The program was created to provide union opportunities for veterans as they transition back to civilian life. The program now provides leadership training to help these veterans become managers in the construction industry. Many veterans have shared that unions are the first time they’ve felt the same sense of brotherhood and belonging as they had in the military, providing a sense of self they need in their transition to civilian life.
The Federal Mechanical Insulation Bill is close to being introduced to the House floor. Ielmini discussed the work being done on both sides of the aisle to gain support before the bill's introduction. By keeping the bill simple, only two and a half pages, it’s been an easier process to get representatives to support it, he said. The next step would be a hearing in front of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee. If passed, the bill could produce as many as 100,000 new jobs in the mechanical insulation field.
Listen to the entire episode to learn more.
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