Why These Five Unions Are Omaha’s Best-Kept Secret
Recently, there’s been a major uptick in construction throughout Nebraska. Commercial and residential buildings are popping up all around the Cornhusker state, and construction is expected to be the fastest-growing sector of the state’s economy through 2018. There’s an amazing opportunity for young men and women to capitalize on these new opportunities for employment. For those who aren’t sure about what to do or where to go after graduating from high school or college, an apprenticeship program at one of the mechanical and building unions in Omaha is an excellent option. Apprenticeships can lead to wonderful careers, and can help lock in employment security for the rest of your life.
There’s never been a better time to join these historical organizations, as they’re hungry for new members to fill the staggering number of jobs on the horizon. The five union options to consider are sheet metalworker, plumber, insulator, steamfitter, and carpenter. Each of the five unions has both apprenticeship and journeymen programs, which are all designed to help you build a career, not just get a job. By joining, you become part of a long and storied tradition that’s much bigger than yourself. The unions also ensure fair wages, benefits, and safe conditions for their workers. It’s a perfect fit for those who love to work with their hands, constructing and fixing things, or for those looking for a fair day’s pay after a fair day of work.
STEAMFITTERS AND PLUMBERS UNION LOCAL #464
Brad Bird – Business Manager 402-333-5859
Brad Bird – Business Manager
Most people know what a plumber is, but steamfitters aren’t as well known. Steamfitters are the men and women who work on large, high-pressure piping systems that carry water, steam, chemicals, and fuel. It’s a complex and challenging trade that has a bit of a mystique to it. It’s also an extremely profitable trade that you can start to learn about through the Local #464 apprenticeship training program. The program is a mix of classroom study and on-the-job training that you’ll be paid for. The union takes applications for the program once a year, and there are three different options: construction steamfitter, service tech steamfitter, and plumber. It’s a five-year program, and you’ll be earning money the whole time.
Mark Ondracek, a steamfitter from the Local #464 union, proudly says, “We put in quality work. Being a steamfitter is a dangerous trade. What we handle–pressure vessels–they’re potential bombs. By installing them correctly, we keep the public safe.”
SHEET METAL WORKERS UNION LOCAL #3
Jim Waugh – Business Manager
Jim Waugh – Business Manager
Those who join the apprenticeship program at Sheet Metal Workers Local #3 also earn while they learn. After the application process (which includes an in-person application, an online application, three letters of recommendations, and an interview), the apprentices are employed full-time with one of the union’s contractors. They attend class two times a week for about five years. Jim Waugh, the business manager at Sheet Metal Workers Local #3, says, “The union is a brotherhood. The membership looks out for each other. There’s a lot of satisfaction in the construction industry. Every day you physically see what you’ve accomplished.” When Jim started the apprenticeship program at the age of 19, he never thought he could have the career he has today. Through the union, he’s worked his way up the ladder and is proud of the life he’s provided for himself and his family.
PLUMBERS LOCAL UNION #16
Arrick Jazynka – Business Representative 402-734-6274
Arrick Jazynka – Business Representative
If plumbing is something you’ve always been interested in, Plumbers Local #16 is another great option. Their apprenticeship program is open for two weeks every spring. They take applications from anyone with a high school diploma or GED. Once accepted, you hit the ground running, working 40 hours a week in the field, and attending training seven hours a week in the evening. After completing an apprenticeship or journeyman programs, you can get a job anywhere in the country. Says Joe Teshack, a 34-year member of the Plumbers Union, “Not only do we supply our contractors with highly skilled plumbers to protect the health of Omaha and Southwest Iowa, we protect the health of the nation. There’s a camaraderie here that you can’t find anywhere else. I’ve made friends for life.”
CARPENTERS UNION LOCAL #427
Matt Scott – Business Manager
Matt Scott – Business Manager
At Carpenters Union Local #427, you can learn a number of trades: concrete, dry wall and metal studs, acoustical ceiling, scaffolding, carpet laying, floor covering–the list goes on and on! Matt Scott, the business manager, talks about how much young men and women can benefit can from joining the apprenticeship program at his union: “What you do right now can really benefit you in the future. If you want to build a career and work towards a goal and get married, have a family, this is where you should be. You won’t have to pay for a college education. You can make a great living by working construction in a union.” In the apprenticeship program, you work full-time. Once every three months, you attend the free class for a week. Once you’re through the apprenticeship program, you become a journeyman, where you’ll receive a raise every six months.
HEAT AND FROST INSULATORS UNION LOCAL #39
Marvin Marshall – Business Manager 402-333-6960
Marvin Marshall – Business Manager
Marvin Marshall, who’s been in the Insulators Union for 16 years, worked his way through the apprenticeship and journeyman programs and is now a manager. He not only loves that his craft saves people real money on heating and cooling bills; he also loves that the union protects his interests. As he says, “I have a lot of love for this trade and what it’s done for my family. These people are my brothers and sisters. We fight for each other and stand up for each other.” The apprenticeship program at Local #39 is four years long, and they’ll make sure you’re armed with the skills you need to do the best job possible. Apprentices here attend a minimum of 144 hours in the classroom each year for four years, at which they receive training from highly skilled instructors. They also get on-the-job training, and are in the field at least 1,600 hours a year.
These programs aren’t just for those who are new to the field. If you’ve been working for a non-union company, you can up your wages and protect your health and wellness by enlisting in the union. Joining any one of these five apprenticeship programs can help you build a life and career as you also help to grow Omaha, Nebraska, and the nation as a whole. If you’re motivated, a self-starter, eager to learn and ready to work, any of these five unions can offer you the path to a life you’ll love. You’ll follow in the footsteps of an honored group of men and women who are proud, loyal craftspeople.