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Season 4, Episode 26

Tech rush in Austin leads to union membership boom

UA local 286 gray


Guest Name:

Robert "Chap" Thornton

Guest Website:


Guest Social Media:






Robert “Chap” Thornton, Business Manager/Financial Secretary-Treasurer of the United Association Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 286, returned to the AWF Union Podcast and explained how the region’s technology boom has created jobs for members of the pipe trades. 

Local 286 represents about 1,300 active members in a 13-county region in Greater Austin, Texas.

He is also the President of the Southwest Pipe Trades Association.

Thornton credited growth in Austin’s technology sector over the last six years with creating jobs for the building trades. During that span, members of the Local 286 have remained steadily employed. Additionally, with upcoming work at the Tesla and Samsung plants, the apprenticeship program is seeing unheralded growth. The Local 286 JATC increased its weekly schedule from classes two days per week to give days per week class to accommodate the increased number of apprentices, he said.

Besides work, it is iimportant for members to stay informed and be involved with local politics. This is due to local legislation that allowed many of the growth opportunities in Austin that benefit union members, Thornton added.

Thornton also spoke about the multiple career options he considered after high school including game warden and working in the criminal justice system, and the reason why he joined Local 286. 

Listen to the entire episode to learn more about these topics.

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 American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, Communication Workers of America, Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 6, Kelley & Ferraro, LLP, & Labor Citizen magazine, Laborers International Union of North America, North Coast Area Labor Federation, Maritime Trades Department, Ohio Federation of Teachers-American Federation of Teachers, United Auto Workers, United Labor Agency, United Steelworkers.


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