Power for America Training Trust Expands!
Utility workers training utility workers is the core strength of the UWUA’s Power for America Training Trust. Bringing the most experienced members to pass on their knowledge to new employees and incumbent workers is resulting in the safest, most qualified, productive employees — and good union members — doing the work for the public. Participating employers now recognize our training method as a successful model.
Welding facility next up In less than one year, Power for America has already outgrown its training facility in Potterville, MI. Expansion plans include the addition of a 5,000 sq. foot building for a full welding facility to train welding for gas pipe lines and the electrical generation industry, and more classroom space.
We see more opportunities and are in the process of negotiating training curriculums for more disciplines. The companies we’re doing the training for, Consumers Energy in this case, are really thrilled with the quality of training. This is also true for our Utility Workers Military Assistance Program (UMAP) with Peoples Gas in Chicago.
What’s in it for the company to have utility workers training utility workers through the P4A? Instead of hiring trainers who might have learned through bookwork in school, we have people who have done the hands-on work for years doing the training. In addition to the knowledge that is being passed on from senior utility worker to other utility workers, the cost benefit for doing training through the P4A includes the company not having to staff up for periodic training. We have people on staff all the time who are doing a variety of different trainings so we can utilize their skills in different training modes. This is a much more cost effective way to deliver training for our participating employers.
Making members proud
Expansion into welding is being made possible because we have proved our model works best for white goods repair (a very profitable sector of the gas industry) and gas pipeline replacement. As a result, when Consumers Energy hired an additional 300 people to do gas line replacement to improve the infrastructure — getting the old steel pipe out of the ground and putting in plastic pipe — P4A was hired to do the training.
We’re also finding that it’s very beneficial for the union to do the training as far as developing good union members, especially in a right-to-work state like Michigan. It gives the members a good introduction to the union and something to think about: “Not only does my union negotiate benefits and wages and working conditions, they also care about me enough to make sure I’m trained right.”
This gives the union more meaning to the members and we’re confident it makes the members more proud to be part of this union. They know that because we have seasoned utility veterans who actually do the work day in day out for years passing on all of their knowledge of how to do things the right way, they’re going to work safer, have a safer work place, and everyone will benefit.
Repairing America The model we have here in Michigan can be replicated anywhere in the country. P4A is now equipped to train for pipeline replacement, meter reading, gas service, and any type of white goods repair. It doesn’t matter where it’s at, we can do it.
Our training program also helps create a stronger economy because we’re training a highly skilled workforce for family sustaining jobs. The more good paying jobs that are out there, the more money gets earned. The more money gets earned, the more things get bought, which just makes more industries grow.
Replacing the aging pipes that are in the ground will also make for a safer country. We have 120-130 year old pipes in the ground that we’re hoping will hold until we can get them replaced. It’s something that we really have to concentrate on. Not just as a union, or a company, but as a country.
Our model works
With our training model, companies, regulators and the public know they will get the safest, highest skilled, most productive workers in the world to do the work. Whether it’s downed wires, malfunctioning substations, underground cable problems, gas line leaks, or water main breaks, our members will have the necessary training, and the skills, to fix things in a safe and timely fashion. UWUA members will make sure their repairs are permanent and not have to be redone, which is often not the case for many of the contractors utilities use. This cuts down on outages and the time customers are out of service. Employers are learning our model is smart, economical and the wise way to go.
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