In 2009, the UWUA with employer partners Utility Lines Construction, Entergy, and National Grid established the Power for America Training Trust Fund (P4A) to provide training support to incumbent workers as well as administer apprenticeship programs. Although often thought to be a Michigan program, due in large part to the Potterville, Michigan Training Center, since its inception P4A has grown to include 12 employers with trainings currently conducted in 13 states including: California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia.
Training reaches 10% of membership
Last year marked the most active year of training yet, with over 5,100 members trained in more than 40 locals. That’s 10% of the membership! Training during 2019 included safety, leadership, eLearning, the Utility Workers Military Assistance Program (UMAP), high school vocational, apprenticeship and other skills related trainings in generation, renewable energy, electric, water, and gas.
Milestones in 2019 include the creation of a new national staff position, Director of Veterans Affairs and Workforce Development, to work between the UWUA, P4A, all branches of the U.S. Military, as well as various veterans groups across the country, to grow the UMAP program. Former Local 18007 Business Manager, Rick Passarelli, was named to the position in January 2019. Rick spearheaded the creation of UMAP in Chicago, in partnership with P4A, between Local 18007 and Peoples Gas. The 500th graduate of the Chicago UMAP program was celebrated with a graduation ceremony in 2019.
Representatives from the previous 24 UMAP cohorts were in attendance. The program is so successful that over one third of Local 18007 members working at Peoples Gas are veterans and graduates of the program.
Other 2019 milestones include P4A’s first venture into eLearning where 917 members working with American Water took over 3,000 courses offered through the eLearning catalogue. These replaced traditional classroom courses previously taught by American Water. Many were prerequisites for other P4A led courses, and/or were necessary for renewing or obtaining credentials. P4A Executive Director Jon Harmon sees eLearning as one of two gateways for employers to test the waters of joining the P4A. The other is safety training. In coordination with the UWUA’s National Safety Director, Scotty MacNeill, P4A has freshened the Systems of Safety program with new activities based on safety incidents within the specific energy industry. Safety leadership training using P4A’s peer-to-peer approach is being adopted by employers across the nation.
Utility workers training utility workers
The key to P4A training is not a training center, facility, or location. The key is that retired UWUA members with real life field experience are the trainers for P4A programs. Utility workers training utility workers makes P4A programs better than other training model. Members often ask, “how can we get P4A training in our local or with our company?” The answer is simple, get involved. If safety with your company is less than exceptional, get involved and make your voice heard. Safety is the easiest way to get company buy-in to the P4A. What company doesn’t want its union to be pushing safety amongst the membership? Tell your company, the union has a safety program that is producing results throughout the industry and across the nation. Developing a successful safety program under P4A is the gateway to the P4A providing skills training to your company, your local, and your members, and you, the union, taking control of your own safety and skills destiny.
P4A is ramping up for another record-breaking year of delivering high quality safety and skills training to the membership across the country, utilizing a member-to-member approach. If you are already involved in P4A training, be sure to speak highly of the program, share your success stories so that others can hear. If you have yet to enter into the world of P4A safety and skills training, make your voice heard with your employer, tell them there is a better way and that is the way of P4A.