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Labor Management Education Committee – Lee Graham, Winter 2019

With fall coming to an end and winter quickly arriving, the New Year is just around the corner. This fall has been particularly exciting and busy with OE324 taking part in a number of events to both continue our ongoing relationships and increase our outreach.

For 42 years, Michigan Apprenticeship Steering Committee, Inc. (MASCI) has been one of the state’s leading advocates for the opportunities that can be provided through Registered Apprenticeships. MASCI brings together labor, industry, educators, government, public and lawmakers, with the goal of increasing the opportunities, profile and standards that build long and meaningful careers in construction and manufacturing.  MASCI held their first conference in several years and this year’s conference boasted a truly outstanding list of events, seminars and discussions. It opened with a Legislative Reception, in which many of Michigan’s top lawmakers and staff had an opportunity to discuss what is moving forward in Lansing and Washington DC to produce, promote and protect registered apprenticeships with Governor Gretchen Whitmer being the keynote speaker. It is also an invaluable opportunity to speak casually with legislators and other attendees. Over the next two days, sessions discussing ongoing efforts aimed at veterans (Helmets To Hardhats), women (National Association of Women in Construction), Advance Manufacturing, State of Michigan driven initiatives like Going PRO and education including STEM curriculums, Michigan CTE and pre-apprenticeship programs, among many others.

National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) is a national celebration that offers leaders in business, labor, education and other critical partners a chance to demonstrate their support for apprenticeship. NAW also gives apprenticeship sponsors the opportunity to showcase their programs, facilities and apprentices in their community. The week-long event highlights the benefits of apprenticeship in preparing a highly skilled workforce to meet the talent needs of employers across diverse industries. Apprenticeship is extremely important to us here at OE324, and we were proud to participate in the NAW events by hosting one of our own.

The 5th Annual NAW took place between November 11-17, 2019. Operating Engineers 324 were joined by Ironworkers Local 25, Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters, Michigan Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, Michigan Building and Construction Trades, and MUST on November 13th to host a NAW Counselors Open House at the OE 324 Construction Career Center.

The event was a great success with comments from State Director of the Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship, Russ Davis, Deputy Director of Marketing and Strategy for the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development, Sammie Lukakiewicz, Instructor for Local 25 Training Center, Matt Rajda, Apprentice and Training Coordinator for Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, Howard Hipes, State Director of Training for Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, Tod Sandy and Career and Outreach Coordinator for OE324, John Hartwell. Many schools had teachers/ counselors in attendance including: Armada, Berrien Springs, Brighton, Calhoun, City of Detroit CRIO, Clinton, Eaton RESA, FlexTech, Fowlerville, Franklin, Fraser, Grand Blanc, Howell, Hudson, Huron, Innovation Academy, Jackson, Lincoln Park, Mecosta Osceola Career Center, Milan, Monroe, Montrose, MRCC/JATF, Napoleon, Northwest Alternative, Pennfield, Perry, Pinckney, Tuscola, Western and Williamston.

Counselors are at ground zero for helping us identify, inspire and shepherd the next generation of skilled trades people. Events like the one we hosted, gives us that valuable opportunity to bring them in and show them the efforts and successes of our training programs so that they can go back to the classroom and give information to students. There is no better way to show counselors than in a hands-on environment. Also there’s no better way to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week than to showcase what we have to offer in our state-of-the-art Howell facility. From operating heavy equipment, to drones, to autonomous equipment, our construction apprentices are on the cutting edge of the industry. We look forward to training more people in Michigan for the jobs of tomorrow.

In the same hands-on experience, MiCareerQuest goal is to provide students throughout Michigan a unique indoor hands-on experience that will expose them to a broad range of exciting, rewarding career opportunities. This fall we took part in two separate MiCareerQuest showcases. The MiCareerQuest East took place October 23rd in Flint. MiCareer- Quest Southeast was held November 8th at the Suburban Collection Showplace.

This year the Sachse Construction Academy took place at Detroit’s Eastern Market and brought hundreds of students together to talk to skilled tradespeople and consider careers in the construction industry. Operating Engineers 324 was well represented with stationary equipment and apprentice speakers who engaged students who were thoughtful with questions about the industry and application process. By joining with other trades in opportunities like these, we get to raise the profile of the great work we do every day and educate communities about the work going on around them and hopefully inspire a few students at the same time!

Operating Engineers recently participated at Fifth Annual HarvestFest Detroit on October 26th. This year’s event was held at grand opening for the Robert C. Valade Park. The newly opened Robert C. Valade park features a sandy beach with chairs and umbrellas, a children’s musical garden, playscapes for kids to climb on, a community barbecue pavilion, and Bob’s Barge, which is Detroit’s only floating bar. The park also is home to The Shed, a 3,600-square-foot building that will be used for food, events and programming. Harvestfest is a free family day event featured many activities such as hayrides, bounce houses, live music, pumpkin carving and trick or treating. Families were asked to bring canned goods & non-perishable food items to help those in need over the coming winter months.

We are looking forward to our Contractor Roundtables, starting with our Upper Peninsula Roundtable in January. The Roundtables allow us to speak to our contractors directly and get a great feel for what opportunities and challenges the next year will hold. We will have a lot of progress from last year to report, so we are excited as ever to get the Roundtables started.

With the New Year, please remember to check your MUST status and see that you have all safety modules completed. These modules expire every four years and you should have a “current” status with your drug test. Check your status by logging on to When you get to the “Member Login” screen, use your MUST identification number or your Social Security number as your ID and the first four digits of your Social Security number as your password. You can then check your report card for your status. If you run into any problems, need access to your MUST modules or need a MUST drug screening, please contact the Union office at (248) 451-0324. Please remember that the MUST program does NOT use the Concentra locations for collections.

Finally, 2019 has been a year of great growth for the state of Michigan and OE324 alike. I would like to take a moment and say welcome to all of our new members! You’ve chosen
a truly rewarding career path and joined a great organization! We’re excited to have you!

Hoping you had a wonderful holiday season and wishing you a happy, healthy New Year.
Lee Graham
Executive Director
Labor-Management Education Committee