January 2016

31st Annual Ironworker Instructor Training Program

In July 2015, the National Training Fund held its 31st Annual Ironworker Instructor Training Program at Washtenaw Community College and Eastern Michigan University.

More than 775 instructors, coordinators, business managers, employers, contractors, special presenters, vendors and guests from across the United States and Canada descended upon Washtenaw Community College to upgrade their skills and classroom abilities. They made new industry contacts, learned new skills and refined their existing skills to improve their teaching skills and better train our members in their local unions. 

Again this year the program was full of vitality and a sense of purpose on the part of the instructors. Like last year, there were nearly 90 first-time attendees. New instructors and first-time attendees always create a sense of excitement and invigorate those veteran teachers who have been coming to the program for many years. IMPACT continued their contributions to the program by offering courses for contractors and officers making this an industry-wide event. With such a broad cross section of our industry represented, great course offerings, outstanding social events and unparalleled sense of brotherhood, the Annual Ironworker Instructor Training Program should be a must attend for all Iron Worker instructors throughout our great International Union. General President Eric Dean, in his speech at the opening ceremony, spoke about his career as an instructor in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He commented on how much he enjoyed teaching our newer members and grooming them to be successful journeymen. General President Dean also commented on the challenges facing our industry and the importance of training in particular.

General President Dean said, “Our locals must prepare for the upcoming needs of the industry by offering opportunities for journeymen to upgrade their skills. No one can call themselves the best of the best if they do not embrace training and work at upgrading their skills.”

Finally, General President Dean thanked all the instructors at W.C.C. who spend valuable time preparing for this annual event!

Next, National Fund Management Co-Chair and President of TSI Exterior Wall Systems Vic Cornellier talked about the symbiotic relationship between union labor and management. He attributed much of the success his company has had over the years to the skilled union ironworkers that his company employs. And without fair union contractors like TSI, the members of our organization would not have the quality jobs and standard of living we have come to enjoy. Cornellier also emphasized the need for continued investment in our training programs, stating, “Due to the global nature of the economy, it is more important now than ever to invest in and improve our already outstanding training programs.”

Apprenticeship Executive Director Lee Worley spoke about the week ahead and welcomed the more than 775 participants. He described the new courses available for participants and introduced the new additions to the National Fund’s teaching faculty. As a final point, Executive Director Worley impressed upon the first time attendees the need to take what they learn in the upcoming week back to their locals and implement these new skills in the classroom.

Executive Director Worley then introduced Dr. Rosa Bellanca, president of Washtenaw Community College. Dr. Bellanca welcomed the Iron Workers and wished us a successful week of training. The folks at Washtenaw Community College are very accommodating to the Iron Workers, and part of the reason our program is such a success is the leadership her group brings each year. Having a qualified and dedicated team, as well as a state-of-the-art training facility, is the main reason the National Fund trustees agreed to a five-year extension that will keep our national instructor program in Ann Arbor through the year 2020.

The opening ceremony wrapped up with Mike Relyin presenting 33 instructors with their Qualified Ironworker Instructor certificates. These certificates mark a milestone in training. In order to earn a Qualified Ironworker Instructor certificate, an instructor needs to take 100 hours of professional development or teacher training courses and another 100 hours of trade specific classes. This takes a minimum of five years attending the Ironworker Instructor Training Program and is a significant achievement in an instructor’s development. The following instructors were presented with their certificate in Michigan this past year: David Alaniz, Local 395, Phillip Briant, Local 48, Aaron Briles, Local 103, Edward Burbes, Local 40/361, Matthew Byrne, Local 790, Matthew Chapman, Local 14, Oakley Cooper, Local 725, Marvin Courville, Local 14, Todd Foreman, Local 340, Robert Fulton, Local 136, Javier Genera, Local 263, Raymond Haley, Local 15, John Happe, Local 396, John Herr, Local 136, James Hunt, Local 396, Rick Johnson, Local 27, Steven Kershner, Local 577, Anthony Ladd, Local 751, Ethan LaGrand, Local 14, Thomas Lisowski, Local 440, Carl Lueth, Local 736, Kelsey McCabe, Local 46L, Russell Mitchell, Local 387, Javier Montano, Local 27, Kenneth Moore, Local 46L, Daniel O’Donnell, Local 136, John Rimkus, Local 395, Joseph Rooney, Local 580, Jaysen Schaller, Local 383, Andrew Shultis, Local 383, Peter Stern, Local 383, Robert Van Fossen, Local 24 and Jeffrey Weiss, Local 512. Congratulations to all of the recipients. These instructors’ dedication to improving their presentation skills and staying current with the current technologies in our industry will ensure our apprenticeship programs are leading the way in the construction industry. 

One group of people whose dedication and devotion to training make our program a success year in and year out are the faculty and staff who teach the courses offered at the Ironworker Instructor Training Program. We would like to thank the following instructors for their hard work in maintaining the Ironworker Annual Instructor Training Program as the best in the industry: Dr. Jeff Allen, Todd Anderson, Robert Bass, Robert Bitzky, Michael Blakeman, Bryan Brady, Jeff Carlson, David Carpio, Brian Colombo, Jim Creegan, Richard Depue, Richard Falasca, George Facista, Chantee Geigan, Seth Gorman, Dave Gornewicz, Kelley Gottschang, Jim Greer, Russ Gschwind, Rex Hardman, Karl Hoes, William Hohlfeld, Joe Hunt III, Reis James, Kurt Johnson, Pascal Kateme, Julie Kissel, Dan Klingman, Clint Knowlton, Dave Kolbe, Scott Malley, Mike Mansfield, Peter Marcyan, Mike Martin, Paul Martinez, Gene Mathews, Mike McDonald, Neal McKelligan, Linda Meeks, Roman Meeks, Bill Michelini, Chris Monroe, Kim Nimon, Ed Penna Sr., Ed Penna Jr., Nanette Philbert, Jason Rafter, Michael Richards, Chad Rink, Michael Sampson, Deborah Samuels, Matthew Sargent, Jason Schmidt, Carl Singleton, Doug Smith, Carl Tengesdal, Chris Tobiasson, Alex Tocco, Jay Tweet, Joe Werbeck, Wayne Worrall Jr., Jerry Wircenski and Dick Zampa Jr. These individuals spend many hours maintaining their skills and preparing their classes to make the program a success each July.

Each year the National Training Fund and IMPACT upgrade existing courses and develop new courses for our instructors, contractors and union officials to take. We added an Intermediate Computer Skills course so participants who have basic knowledge using a computer will learn more about computer terminology, hardware and software.

We also added Plumbing Aligning and Fastening Structural Steel, a course focused on the information of units 8, 9 and 10 of the Structural Steel Erection manual, which gives the participants a better understanding of the subject matter, enabling them to pass the knowledge onto their students at the local level.

One of the more recent and exciting additions to the program has been the addition of courses for contractors. These courses are sponsored by IMPACT and bring a new dimension and vitality to the entire program. Contractors get to see and interact with our apprentice instructors and get a feel for the commitment and dedication it takes to be an apprentice instructor. 

These courses, in which contractors develop and refine their skills and abilities to compete in an ever-changing marketplace, have been met with great enthusiasm by the contractor community and have quickly filled up every year. This year, IMPACT added the Safety Trained Supervisor Construction® (STSC®) certification prep course and examination. The STSC® certification is a professional credential offered by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals and is appropriate for ironworker members, including journeymen, foremen, superintendents and signatory contractor management personnel who have responsibilities to maintain safe conditions and manage safety practices on construction jobsites. Overall, 42 individuals from the Iron Worker membership and signatory contractors attended the prep course. Of those, 40 individuals participated in the examination, and 38 individuals passed the exam. The overall pass rate for Ann Arbor participants was 95 percent. The prep course was targeted toward training those individuals who will return to their local unions and begin offering the prep course as a local union program and was a tremendous success. Several local unions have scheduled in-house programs that will be conducted during the next few months.

The contractor courses enhance the program in many ways and further demonstrate union ironworkers are partnering with its contractors to benefit the industry.

A major tool in our toolbox, to ensure every ironworker in our great International Association receives the highest quality training, is the Ironworker Apprenticeship Certification Program (IACP). The IACP process is a rigorous set of standards a local training program must meet to achieve accreditation, and include having a properly tooled and equipped school, recordkeeping procedures, instructional material, trained staff and effective use of multi-media in the classroom. When a local achieves the IACP accreditation, the members, contractors and JATC/TICs know their school is doing what it is supposed to do to effectively train the next generation of ironworkers. This year the following locals gained accreditation or re-accredited: Local 769 (Ashland, Ky.), Local 402 (W. Palm Beach, Fla.), Local 272 (Miami), Local 704 (Chattanooga, Tenn.), Local 397 (Tampa, Fla.), Local 167 (Memphis, Tenn.), Local 3 (Pittsburgh), Local 70 (Louisville, Ky.), Local 732 (Pocatello, Idaho), Local 58 (New Orleans), Local 12 (Albany, N.Y.), Local 27 (Salt Lake City), Local 111 (Rock Island, Ill.), Local 24 (Denver), Local 16 (Baltimore), Local 451 (Wilmington, Del.), Local 759 (Thunder Bay, Ontario), Local 340 (Battle Creek, Mich.) and Local 9 (Niagara Falls, N.Y.). Congratulations to all of the locals who have achieved the certification. To find out if your local has met the accreditation requirements of the IACP, visit www.ironworkers.org/training/certified-local-union-apprenticeship-programs or scan the QR code on the right.

The contributions of our vendors in the classrooms and on vendor night are one of elements making the program truly special. The National Fund would like to extend a hearty thank you to all of the vendors who helped make the 2015 Annual Ironworker Instructor Training Program a huge success: American Welding Society, Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Applied Bolting Technology, Barsplice Products Inc., Canadian Welding Bureau, Clean Air America, The Crosby Group, Eastern Michigan University, ESAB Welding and Cutting, ELC Technologies, Harris Products Group, Hilti Inc., Hypertherm, Hytorc, Impact, Klein Tools Inc., Leica Geosystems, Lincoln Electric Company, Magnegas, Max USA Corp., Metabo, Miller Electric Manufacturing Co., Post Tensioning Institute, Robovent, Skidmore-Wilhelm Manufacturing Co., Smith Equipment, Tiger Industries Corporation, University of Michigan, Victor Technologies and Washtenaw Community College.

As we close the books on the 31st Annual Training Program, our eyes turn to next year and the 32nd Annual Ironworker Instructor Training Program, the seventh program in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Next year’s program is shaping up to be better! The National Fund staff is already hard at work planning the next program. We will be adding more new courses, and the events and activities will again be entertaining, educational and of great value to the participants. We look forward to seeing everyone in July 2016!