Utility Workers Military Assistance Program (UMAP)
The UMAP program was started in April 2012 through the tremendous efforts of the UWUA Veterans Committee, led by Local 18007 Business Manager Rick Passerelli. In a Chicago neighborhood, a project was started at the Kennedy-King College’s Dawson Technical Institute. Rick Passerelli, a military veteran himself, spearheaded an educational program dealing with general education and basic courses focusing on the safe construction and operation of the natural gas distribution systems. Upon completion of the program, students receive 52 college credits for an Associate’s Degree as well as a certificate of completion of the program.
With the focus of rebuilding the infrastructure of Chicago’s natural gas system and delivering safe and reliable service to the public, Peoples Gas has instituted a process where students, upon completion of the classroom program, enter into a paid internship at the company for one month of actual on-the-job experience. Since the start of the UMAP project, more than 100 graduates have become Local 18007 members working at Peoples Gas.
In January of 2015, an announcement was made that UMAP will be extended for another five years and will train another 250 veterans in this tremendous program. This will be made possible by the funding support given by Peoples Gas, Power 4 America Training Trust Fund, the Workforce Investment Act, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and stipends from the Department of Veterans Affairs as needed. (See page Grant Activities for more information on P4A and UMAP.)
1. UMAP Program perspectives
- UMAP National Effort – Utility Workers Military Assistance would be the underlined national program. The program will be designed to assist those men and women transitioning from the military into the civilian sector with gainful career opportunities in the Utility Workers sector and other labor affiliated program opportunities. In addition to workforce development and assistance UMAP would also provide support to our own military veteran members and their families. On a national level we will partner with the military affiliates from all branches and work shoulder to shoulder with those on a national base that have developed and will continue to provide support to our veterans, reserve and guard candidates and their families. Following the protocol of state and federal guidelines is critical to the overall outreach as there are many tools in place that can be utilized for support.
- Legislation – Understanding the legislation in place on veteran’s issues as well as being partner to creation of legislation necessary. There is an abundance of legislation that is coming down the hill on licensing and credentialing as well specific benefits for our veterans and military families. Utility Workers government affairs can be of great support to those efforts.
- Solutions to Licensing and Credentialing – Transition of military occupational skills into the civilian sector is an area that is critical to a veteran’s success. Senator Patty Murray, Senate Chairwomen of Senate Veterans Affair’s has taken the lead in introducing supportive legislation on this effort that being said for the most part this is defined via state wide regulations. Identifying what the issues are on a national scope will better define the state wide efforts of support that UMAP can offer. Partnerships with the military, universities and state agencies are critical to understanding these issues industry by industry.
2. UMAP State by State initiatives
- Identify and develop a data base of Utility Workers veteran military members and military families
- Partnering with employers and state agencies
- Partnering with local reserve and guard offices
- Extend support to your state agencies and VSO organizations such as Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Labor Veterans liaisons, Department of Workforce Development
- Extend support to grass roots efforts in your own state – faith based organizations, Yellow Ribbon ceremonies, USO, VFW, American Legion
- Support the gold star families in your state
- Support to Wounded Warriors in your state
- Identify VA Hospitals in your state
- Employer outreach and partnerships
- Identify state wide protocol for hiring a veteran, reserve or guard candidate
- Include a percentage of veteran candidates into Project Labor Agreements
- Partnering with other labor communities on shared efforts for veterans
- Letters to employers about the UMAP program
- Partnering one on one with employers and developing a working protocol
- Training development specific to veteran, reserve and guard candidates
- Identify a tracking and application process specific to veterans
- UMAP Mentorship
- Utilize and identify Utility Workers military veterans as mentors to incoming veterans for extended support
- UMAP Claims and Disabilities Program
- Identify presumptive illnesses to veterans from all era’s
- Registration for claims and disabilities program
- VFW / American Legion
3. UMAP overall extended support
- Women Veterans – specific issues of support is needed and is necessary
- Wounded Warriors and their families
- Homeless veterans and military families
- Unemployed veterans and military families
- Utility Workers military veterans and military families
UMAP is a partnership between the UWUA, the AFL-CIO, and Peoples Gas, in collaboration with:
- UWUA Power for America Training Trust
- UWUA Local 18007
- City Colleges of Chicago
- State of Illinois Economic and Workforce Development Agency
- Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs
- Veterans Service Organizations
- City of Chicago Workforce Investment Board
UMAP provides returning veterans with the training needed as gas sector utility workers to successfully transition into job opportunities provided by Peoples Gas.
Blended training (between Power for America and community colleges) includes employer-required coursework; required industry certifications, and employer-paid internship with a mentoring component.
The seven-month program enables participants to effectively obtain and retain living wage employment opportunities as gas utility workers, along with the ability to continue their apprenticeship education leading to an Associate of Science Degree.
Peoples Gas has begun a 25-year infrastructure project to replace the gas pipe operating through Chicago and surrounding cities. The UMAP program provides the company with a highly qualified workforce over the next 20 years. Peoples Gas fully committed to supporting this multi-year program, beyond the sunset date of the proposed grant. As part of their initial contribution to the project, they have committed $1.2 million to the UWUA Power for America Training Trust Fund to pay for instructional and clerical staff who will deliver the employer-required curriculum. Additionally, Peoples Gas donated a truck, complete with tools, and had their workforce (UWUA Local 18007 members) build three gas labs at Dawson Technical including distribution, appliance and meter.
The Gas Utility Worker Program is a 50-credit hour advanced certificate program, that consists of general education and classes in operation of natural gas distributions systems. The program also includes a one-month internship, along with a structured mentoring program. All mentors are UWUA Local 18007 journey-level workers, and are provided with training prior to participants entering the internship.
In addition to the $1.2 million from Peoples Gas, the State of Illinois provided Workforce Investment Act grant monies to provide direct services and tuition payment for participants. To date, the UMAP program has enrolled more than 250 veterans, and has placed 200 into jobs with Peoples Gas.
Most recently, Peoples Gas signed an agreement to continue funding for five more years.