March 2012

Local 377 and Local 378 Volunteer Their Time on a Piece of American History

On a cold, clear January morning, a group of eleven ironworkers from Local 377 (San Francisco) and Local 378 (Oakland, Calif.) assembled in front of the USS Iowa, a working symbol of America’s military supremacy, for the purpose of helping to restore the majestic vessel to its original glory. While preparing their equipment for transport onto the deck of the massive warship, the group, a mixture of journeymen and apprentices, commented on their fortune to be allowed to volunteer their time, energy and skills to this noble cause. When asked why he seemed so happy to be working on a Saturday, Alan Paulsen, a journeyman ironworker and welding instructor at the ironworkers training facility in Benicia, Calif., responded, “I came here for the honor of working on the USS Iowa. I’ll be welding on a piece of history.”

Led by Paulsen and other ironworker apprenticeship staff, the group began their work, which consisted of the typical tasks an ironworker does on a daily basis; cutting iron using an oxygen/acetylene torch, arc welding and rigging. Dan Pawlowski, the ship operations manager overseeing the restoration of the Iowa, observed, “It’s great to have such well trained professionals aiding us in our cause. These guys show up ready to work and get so much done.”

Pawlowski also noted that one of the divers that conducted the inspection of the Iowa’s 18-foot tall propeller is an ironworker, Dave Peters, a field superintendent with Conco Iron. “The ironworkers have really stepped up and helped us. It is hard to find people with the skill and knowledge these people have that are willing to donate their time and efforts.”

Two at a time, enormous lifeboat racks were cut from the decks of the Iowa and sent to the ground using a telescoping forklift. Marcos Ramos, an apprentice ironworker, made sure that the rigging was safe before he signaled the forklift operator to raise the load suspended from the forklift’s forks. “I’m proud to be here today,” Marcos said happily. “We’re required to complete a minimum of 16 hours of community service before we complete our apprenticeship and become journeymen. I’ve done at least double that.” When asked to elaborate, Marcos listed the projects he has donated his time to, including the rebuilding of a city park in Vallejo, Calif., and the removal of large boiler from an old middle school in Crockett, Calif.

“Being a union ironworker makes you realize that you are fortunate to be a part a great organization that stresses the importance of giving back to our great nation. This is my duty as an American and a union brother.” On this beautiful January day, Marcos and his union brothers are certainly demonstrating loyalty to their beliefs.