UMAP – Veterans Training Program Celebrates 500th Graduate!
The UWUA’s Utility Workers Military Assistance Program (UMAP) recently hosted a celebration at the Pritzker Military Library and Museum to honor the 500th veteran to graduate from the Gas Utility Workers Training Program.
The UWUA established UMAP in Chicago with Local 18007, the UWUA Power for America Trust, and Peoples Gas after identifying a critical need to put veterans who had honorably served their country into skilled careers.
The Peoples Gas System Modernization Program (SMP), focused on upgrading over 2,000 miles of aging natural gas infrastructure within the city of Chicago, created the jobs that made the program possible.
During the seven-month “training-to-placement” program, veterans develop the technical skills needed to work in Illinois’ natural gas industry through in-the-field training and classroom instruction administered by City Colleges of Chicago’s Kennedy-King College Dawson Technical Institute.
Participants who complete the program earn 52 units of college credit toward their associate degree and go on to earn full-time technical positions at Peoples Gas. To date, the company has hired 401 veterans from the program.
Richard Passarelli, a Navy veteran and former Local 18007 Business Manager now serves as the national director of veterans affairs for UWUA, founded UMAP in 2011.
“The program is a clear opportunity to leverage our mutual needs to better the lives of our veterans and improve our talent pipeline. I could not be more proud of where we stand today — seven years later — with our 500th graduate of the 20th cohort,” Passarelli said.
During the celebration, veterans like Andy Cancel, an Army reservist who left Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, reflected on how the program had impacted them.
“UMAP really reshaped my life; without it I would not have survived that very tragic time,” Cancel said. “I am grateful to all of the instructors and those who helped me along the way for their support. This extraordinary partnership between Local 18007, Peoples Gas and so many others that I met along the way has saved me and my family.”