January 2013

Outstanding Apprentice Competition

The Ironworkers and Employers National Apprenticeship and Training Conference of North America and Outstanding Apprentice Competition, deemed the "Circle City Showdown," were both held September 19-23, 2012. The events were hosted by Local 22 (Indianapolis, Ind.), and the District Council of Southern Ohio and Vicinity was the host district council. The conference hosts did a fantastic job to make this a once in a lifetime experience for the competitors and attendees.

General President Walter Wise in his address to the conference said, "The outstanding apprentices of today will be the leaders of this great union tomorrow. During this week's apprenticeship competition, you will have the opportunity to observe highly skilled apprentices from our local unions across the United States and Canada. While these apprentices represent their local unions and district councils, they also demonstrate the core of what makes an ironworkerÑexcellence in their knowledge, skills, and attitudes. As you watch these competitors, remember that you are watching the future of our union."

This year's conference was very well attended with over 125 coordinators and JATC members in attendance. Participants were given an update on new developments within the National Training Fund as well as the different ways the Training Department is supporting the local apprenticeship programs. Upon the opening of the conference, Director of Apprenticeship Lee Worley challenged the coordinators to continually improve their programs and stay on top of all new training developments. Worley said, "Only by achieving and maintaining the highest training standards in the industry can the ironworker be the most productive and safest workers in the industry." Kevin Hilton, CEO of IMPACT, discussed the ways in which IMPACT supports training and education. Ed Abbott presented an update on the welding program; Frank Piccione presented an update on the IACP program; and Mike Relyin led a session on recent and upcoming updates to our training material. Joe Hunt III presented our new MSHA training plan and with Brian Columbo, apprentice coordinator for Local 377/378 (San Francisco/Oakland, Calif.) demonstrated the new exam view computer software. There was a demonstration of new voter registration software by Dave Kolbe.

On Friday while the coordinators were in their conference, there was a separate leadership seminar for all apprentices led by Rick Sullivan of IMPACT. Presentations were made by the general officers and IMPACT leadership on future career opportunities for the competitors in union leadership and company ownership. In addition, these fine young ironworkers were challenged to become the future leaders of our great organization.

The competition began right after the Leadership Seminar with the written test. On the second day of the competition, the apprentices demonstrated their skill in the areas of architectural and ornamental, rigging, welding, burning, and set up and use of the instrument. On the third morning of the competition, the reinforcing competition and the highly anticipated column climb were held. The competition this year was extraordinarily close with 0.52 points separating the first and second place competitor. The following is a list of the top ten finishers and the local they represent.

1st  Christopher Smith - Local Union 10 (Kansas City, Mo.)
2nd  Pete Idema - Local Union 700 (Windsor, Ontario)
3rd  Ron Ohlenkamp - Local Union 14 (Spokane, Wash.)
4th  Jason France - Local Union 3 (Pittsburgh)
5th  Robert Hubinger - Local Union 808 (Orlando, Fla.)
6th  Dillon Foerster - Local Union 97 (Vancouver, British Columbia)
7th  Josh Reynolds - Local Union 5 (Washington, D.C.)
8th  Adan Davis - Local Union 3 (Pittsburgh) 
9th  Andrew Bastien - Local Union 700 (Windsor, Ontario)
10th  Joe Kearns - Local Union 5 (Washington, D.C.)

This year there was a separate column climb held with a first prize of $500. The top ten column climbers were given a second climb with the winner taking the prize. The champion column climb was won by Jared Keener of Local 172 (Columbus, Ohio).

The Apprentice Competition would not be the event it has become without a strong commitment from our vendors. The Iron Workers would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the following corporate sponsors and vendors for providing prizes, equipment, and supplies:

Lincoln Electric
Miller Electric
Smith Equipment
Klein Tools
Calculated Industries

In order to provide our signatory contractors with highly skilled ironworkers, we must have strong apprenticeship programs. The Outstanding Apprentice Competition and the Apprenticeship and Training Conference allow local unions to demonstrate the quality of their classroom and hands-on training. By watching the competitors in action at this year's competition, it is clear that our future is in good hands.