The UWUA is providing a solution to veterans who have returned home from overseas to face a new challenge, finding a job. The Utility Workers Military Assistance Program (UMAP) gives veterans the job skills needed to excel in the utility industry. By putting veterans to work in good, union jobs, the UWUA is doing its part to honor those who have served the nation while addressing the growing shortage of skilled workers due to the aging workforce.
Chicago program the model
With the success of the Chicago UMAP program with Peoples Gas, UWUA President Mike Langford and Robin Downs, president of Local 483, spoke to SoCal Gas about the possibility of initiating a UMAP-CA program. UWUA arranged for company representatives to visit Chicago, meet Richard Passarelli, business manager, Local 18007, and Jonathan Harmon, executive director of P4A; tour the training site; and speak to the instructors and executives of Peoples Gas. Impressed with the Chicago experience, plans for starting a Substation and Pipeline Technician pilot UMAP-CA project moved forward.
The Union began the outreach and recruitment of veterans for the UMAPCA program in collaboration with several Workforce Investment Boards – Orange County, Long Beach and Los Angeles County – along with various veterans’ agencies. The Orange County Workforce Investment Board was instrumental in assisting UWUA in attaining access to the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base, where several UMAP orientations were held.
On August 3, 2015, 17 veterans began the 3-week UMAP-CA training that includes a paid internship. All of the veterans completed the program and were awarded Certificates of Completion in Orientation to Transmission and Storage. On September 8, the UMAP veterans began their one-month paid internship. Along with the internship, UWUA Local 483 journey-level members are mentoring them. Once the veterans have completed the program and are hired by Southern California Gas Company, they will become UWUA Local 483 members.
“These veterans have made an extraordinary sacrifice for our country – not returning home to job security, stability and the American Dream for which they fought is not an option,” says Local 483 President Downs. “The UMAP-CA program will assist them in attaining their American Dream. It is the right thing to do!” UMAP-CA trainee Alejandro Gonzalez agrees, “I fought for the American Dream and now I am ready to live it.”