January 2015

Outstanding Apprentice Competition Makes History

The Iron Workers and Employers Outstanding Apprentice Competition, held September 25–28, 2014, was hosted by Local Union 721 (Toronto, Ontario), the District Council of Ontario, with assistance from the other Canadian locals and district councils. For the past 20 years, the Iron Workers International Outstanding Apprentice Competition has been hosted by numerous local union training centers throughout North America and has showcased the skills of our talented apprentices who work in the field. This past September in Toronto that all changed. For the first time ever, the shopmen apprentices who have held their own competition since 1996 in the western United States and western Canada, competed in conjunction with the outside apprentices demonstrating their skills as well. General President Walter Wise, Executive Director of the Shop Department John Bielak and Executive Director of Apprenticeship and Training Lee Worley, welcomed nine apprentices hailing from Oregon, California, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

General President Walter Wise in his address to conference attendees and competitors said, “The outstanding apprentices of today will be the leaders of this great union tomorrow. During this week’s 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 ironworker — excellence in their knowledge, skills and attitudes. As you watch these competitors, remember you are watching the future of our union.”

On Friday, September 26, while the coordinators were in their conference, both shop and outside apprentices attended a separate leadership seminar conducted by Apprentice Coordinators Clint Knowlton and Paul Martinez. Presentations were made by the general officers and IMPACT on future career opportunities for the competitors in union leadership and company ownership. Additionally, these fine young ironworkers were challenged to become the future leaders of our great organization. 

Friday ended with the apprentices taking the general knowledge exam. On Saturday morning, the shopmen apprentices gathered to take the blueprint reading and math exam and then traveled to the Local 721 training center to tour the facility and review the blueprint for their hands-on project. The practical portion was conducted on Sunday morning and tested the apprentices’ skill in layout, cutting and welding, and the fit-up of a wide-flange beam.

At the Local 721 training center on Saturday, 57 outside apprentices who competed started their practical portion at 8:00 a.m. The apprentices were separated into groups, and throughout the day completed the welding, burning, instrument reading and ornamental tests. On Sunday morning, they reconvened and finished up with rigging, rod tying and the column climb.

The competition came to a close on Sunday evening with a banquet and awards ceremony to honor the competitors and victors alike. General President Wise acknowledged all the competitors for their outstanding achievements and presented each apprentice with an ironworker watch. Prizes were awarded to the outstanding apprentices achieving the highest accumulated score from the competition the previous days. Congratulations to the 2014 winners, shown in the top right photo on page 11.

In order to provide our signatory contractors with highly skilled ironworkers, we must have strong apprenticeship programs. The Outstanding Apprentice Competition demonstrates the quality of our classroom instruction and hands-on training. By watching the competitors in action at the 2014 competition – it is clear that our future is in good hands.

A great time was had by all! Local 721 and the Ontario District Council did a fantastic job of hosting and the general officers and staff of our great international would like to congratulate all of this year’s competitors. It was thrilling to have the fabrication side of our industry as part of the international competition and we look forward to their future participation at the event.

2014 Apprenticeship Competition

Shop Competition Final Standings
Place First Name Last Name Local District Council
1st Place Jake Danyluk 712 Western Canada
2nd Place Tyler Johnson 790 The State of California
3rd Place Braden Digness 838 Western Canada


Outside Competition Final Standings
Place First Name Last Name Local District Council
1st Place Andrew Hernandez 5 Mid-Atlantic States
2nd Place Keith Fergus 721 Ontario
3rd Place Tyler Haanpaa 10 St. Louis and Vicinity 
4th Place Phillipe Charland 725 Western Canada
5th Place David Crowe 290 Southern Ohio and Vicinity

Thank You to the Following Corporate Sponsors and Vendors
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
• ESAB
• Smith Equipment
• Metabo
• Klein Tools
• Victor Torch
• Harris Calorific 
• Hilti
• Carhart
• Calculated Industries