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Labor Management Education Committee – Lee Graham, Fall 2019

With summer coming to an end and fall quickly arriving, here is a quick recap of a few great things we have partnered with through the summer and into the fall.

Recently, Operating Engineers 324 participated in Life Remodeled’s Six Day Project to help clean up the City of Detroit. OE324 would like to thank all of the volunteers and partners who helped us in this community revitalization effort. Those important partners are: Michigan CAT, MacAllister Rentals, Sunbelt Rentals and United Rentals. With the help of 9,713 volunteers, Life Remodeled was able to address 257 heavily blighted alleyways surrounding the Durfee Innovation Society, host a summer camp for 125 children and a basketball camp for 37 youths. Life Remodeled’s Family Fun Day (with the largest bounce house in the entire world) drew in more than 3,000 Detroit kids and their families.

For the first time, the American Cancer Society brought “The Big Dig” to Michigan. Over 300 kids and adults were able to fulfill their dreams of getting behind the wheel of some heavy machinery in the name of a good cause. Money raised at the Big Dig went to support the American Cancer Society’s work in pediatric cancer research. With amazing supporters, we were able to raise more than the American Cancer Society’s goal that was set for the day. This charitable event was able to raise a great deal of money, while showcasing the importance of such research. The organization, its mission and commitment put smiles on the faces of all who participated.

Operating Engineers 324 partnered also with Wayne State University to run a Construction Trades STEM Expo. On July 12th, students were given the opportunity to operate the equipment simulator and learn about stationary engineers’ equipment and technology at the Wayne State University campus. On July 17th, students were able to operate heavy equipment with the latest technology including drones, large cranes, GPS excavators, and visit the technician lab area at the Operating Engineers 324 Construction Career Center. The Expo introduced students to career opportunities in the construction and stationary industries with a focus on skilled trade occupations. It was wonderful to see how a hands-on experience can open the door to possibilities in a skilled trade career.

On July 23rd, we hosted a Day on the Job-educator/employer connections at the Operating Engineers 324 Construction Career Center in Howell. The goal is to help educators understand and make connections, so that real world opportunities in the skilled trades can be relayed into a classroom setting. Teachers, Counselors and Administrators from Beecher, Bendle, Clio Area, Davison, Genesee Intermediate, Goodrich Area, Lake Fenton, Linden, Mt. Morris and Westwood Heights Schools were in attendance.

The Operating Engineers 324 Training Center in Detroit, recently hosted the graduation of 17 juniors and seniors from three Detroit high schools in the third class of the Detroit Workforce of the Future (DWF). This 16-week program provides the students the skills and work experience which prepares them for a registered apprenticeship in the construction industry. The 16-week course includes 10 weeks of industry training at the Operating Engineers 324 Training Center in Detroit, followed by field trips to MI Construction Career Days and the Construction Science Expo held at the Michigan Science Center. They also have tours of participating employer facilities and jobsites to learn about skilled trades and other pathways into the industry. The program culminates in a week-long paid work experience on a community construction project, where students are evaluated for their work ethic, safety, time management and other skills. Each graduate received a toolbox from Carhartt with the tools being donated by partnering employers and trades. Carhartt also donated work boots, safety glasses, vests and other equipment that allows students to participate in the program.

Like all successful talent development programs, DWF depends on the collaboration between education, workforce development and employers. Each year, the number of partners continues to grow. Grow Detroit’s Young Talent, Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation and Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates, along with the Operating Engineers 324 and the Michigan Laborers’ Training and Apprenticeship Institute were represented. The 10 construction companies signed on to host the field trips where career opportunities were showcased and discussed.
Programs such as DWF are an important part of exposing and preparing high school students to make decisions about their postsecondary education and career choices. Even if the takeaway is that a career in this industry may not be for them, the students were still able to learn about the importance of safety, teamwork, being drug-free, being engaged and also giving back to the community. Their world was opened up to resources that may be used for future connections in their career development.

All of these efforts help encourage the Operating Engineers of tomorrow and let the community know all of the work we are doing daily – to build, to maintain, to operate and to give back. Have a great fall and stay safe!

Lee Graham
Executive Director
Labor-Management Education Committee