UWUA P4A Training Trust Fund and UWUA Training Initiatives

Officers Report 2015, Part 14

Second Power for America National Conference

To ensure that our members remain the best trained, highest-skilled, safest and most productive workers in every facet of our core industries, the Power for America Training Trust Fund (P4A) was established at the 28th Constitutional Convention. Since then, P4A has blazed a trail to the future for the UWUA, its members, and signatory employers.

To ensure that our members remain the best trained, highest-skilled, safest and most productive workers in every facet of our core industries, the Power for America Training Trust Fund (P4A) was established at the 28th Constitutional Convention.

Hundreds of incumbent and new members have graduated from P4A’s vigorous training programs, and hundreds more are in the pipeline. We are proud of what we have been able to accomplish so far and are making plans for the future. Some P4A highlights since our last convention:

  • The Second Power for America National Conference was held during July 17-19, 2013, in Chicago, IL, with more than 350 UWUA members, officers and guests actively participating. Highlights included:
    • Workshops on “Taking Back our Country – a UWUA Strategic Plan” led by the Human Rights and the Young Workers Initiative Committee members
    • Recognition of the successes of the UWUA’s Military Assistance Program (UMAP) by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, UWUA Veterans Committee Chair Richard Passarelli, and Peoples Gas President William Evans
    • Industry-focused break-out sessions for electric/nuclear, gas, call center/customer service, water, and professional/technical
  • The goal of the UWUA Power for America Training Trust Fund is to re-energize careers in existing utility workplaces and train an emerging new, unionized workforce for tomorrow’s energy industries. A cleaner and stronger America can be achieved by reducing our dependence on foreign oil and investing in clean energy technologies. This is a great opportunity to create good paying domestic jobs in an otherwise bleak economy – both now and long into the future.
  • The P4A conferences provide direct education and training preparation to fulfill this mission. Industry leaders, government officials and community members will have their part to play. But, it’s the workers in America’s utilities – backed by a strong union – that will make the difference on the ground.
  • The conference recognizes that, without respect for workers’ rights, UWUA Power for America Training Trust the nation’s energy industries will continue to decline. Workers know how much things have deteriorated and what changes are necessary. It’s more than dollars and cents – it’s life or death. But, without a strong labor movement, they won’t be heard.
  • Workshops and plenaries at the P4A conferences explain how unions are under attack, and how they can be defended. These attacks range from “right-to-work” (for less) laws aimed at crippling the right to organize and bargain for fair contracts, to everyday harassment of workers and discriminatory actions by management. Input from the Human Rights and Young Workers Initiative Committees are especially important.

The goal of the UWUA Power for America Training Trust Fund is to re-energize careers in existing utility workplaces and train an emerging new, unionized workforce for tomorrow’s energy industries. A cleaner and stronger America can be achieved by reducing our dependence on foreign oil and investing in clean energy technologies.

P4A Michigan Training Center Opens: A Special Day in UWUA History

Dozens of UWUA members, board members, public officials and Consumers Energy representatives gathered in Potterville, Michigan in late June 2014 for the opening of the UWUA’s Power for America Training Center. Owned by the Michigan State Utility Workers Council (MSUWC), the facility is run by the Power for America Training Trust.

As many as 2,500 new union members and incumbent workers will go through rigorous training there for jobs at Michigan’s Consumers Energy. The need for more fulltime, in-house, union staff to do the work has never been greater, and who better to train the new hires than the UWUA.

As many as 2,500 new union members and incumbent workers will go through rigorous training there for jobs at Michigan’s Consumers Energy. The need for more fulltime, in-house, union staff to do the work has never been greater, and who better to train the new hires than the UWUA.

“We started down this path through a rate case intervention,” explains Pat Dillon, MSUWC President. “The council was concerned that the company was being granted rate case money for training, it was being contracted to an outof- state company, and we thought we could do a better job of it. The Public Utility Commission agreed and Consumers Energy granted us $500,000 for a training pilot project.”

The six-month pilot proved very successful and the MSUWC received a commitment from the company to do the training for the next five years.

The 10,000-square-foot training center in Potterville, southwest of Lansing, features seven classrooms and related labs. There, utility workers will build and sharpen their skills in meter reading, gas service appliance repair and other natural gas and electric related service fields.

With the opening of the new, and soon to be expanded, Power for America training facility, UWUA will be prepared to train the next generation of utility workers to be the best trained, highest skilled, safest and most productive workers. (See Grant Activities for more information on the P4A Consumers Energy gas sector training.)

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.

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.)


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