CHICAGO, IL (MARCH 7, 2022) – The Utility Workers Military Assistance Program (UMAP) today celebrated the 700th veteran graduate in Chicago. UMAP – which is administered together with the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA), UWUA Local 18007 and Peoples Gas at City Colleges of Chicago – offers service members a pathway into a family-supporting career.
“It’s truly remarkable to think about all of the lives we’ve impacted through UMAP including veterans, their spouses and families,” said UWUA President James Slevin. “This public-private partnership in Chicago sparked an idea that has become a dynamic, national program that expanded to include employer partnerships across the country.”
Beyond career opportunities, UMAP offers wrap-around support services that help veterans focus on their studies and benefit their families. With help from community organizations including the Dixon Center and Women for Wounded Warriors, UMAP provides grocery and gas gift cards, childcare and more.
“The contributions veterans have made to our organization through this program have met and exceeded all expectations,” said Charles Matthews, president and CEO of Peoples Gas. “As a founding partner in UMAP, we are proud to have built an ongoing program that is making a tangible, positive difference in the communities we serve.”
UMAP students earn 52 credits and an associate degree. The six-month, training-to-placement program has a 95 percent job placement rate with Peoples Gas.
“UMAP – which we built from the ground up and launched in 2012 – has made an immeasurable impact,” said UWUA Director of Veterans Affairs and Workforce Development Rick Passarelli. “Coming out of the military over 15 years ago, I faced many of the same challenges those graduating today faced. I’m proud to help guide service members into new careers and show the great opportunities that exist in the utility sector.”
Graduation ceremony speakers Colonel Sam Whitehurst, vice president of programs and services at Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services and Chicago Alderman Gilbert Villegas congratulated service members for their hard work and determination to fulfill the program requirements and join the Peoples Gas workforce as gas technicians.
“Congratulations to UWUA and UMAP on creating a successful program that’s made a difference for so many veterans,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “This program’s success is a reflection of hard work by a small group of individuals who are dedicated to seeing our veterans achieve a meaningful career with family sustaining wages. Thank you for what you do for this community.”
Through close working relationships with the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Department of Labor VETS, UMAP can now connect with service members before they fully separate from the military. As a SkillBridge provider, UMAP can better help veterans prevent lapses in employment.
“We are proud of the impact we’ve had in partnership with UWUA and Peoples Gas to offer skills training that helps service members reach their potential and succeed in post-military life,” said Juan Salgado, Chancellor of City Colleges of Chicago. “Together, we are supporting our veterans every step in their journey to their education goals.”
Chartered in 1945, the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA), AFL-CIO represents 50,000 active members employed in America’s utility sectors including the electric, gas, water, and related professional and service industries. James Slevin is UWUA’s National President. For more information visit https://uwua.net.
Peoples Gas, a subsidiary of WEC Energy Group (NYSE: WEC), is a regulated natural gas delivery company that serves more than 878,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in the city of Chicago. You can find more information about natural gas safety, energy efficiency and other energy-related topics at peoplesgasdelivery.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook @peoplegaschi.
City Colleges of Chicago vision is one of the most accessible higher education engine of socioeconomic mobility and racial equity—empowering all Chicagoans to take part in building a stronger and more just city. City Colleges of Chicago is a system of seven community colleges and five satellite sites that provide learning opportunities for residents of the Chicago area. Programs range from two-year associate degrees to several weeks-long occupational certificates, free courses for the GED and free English as a second language (ESL) courses.