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Labor Management Education Committee – Lee Graham, Winter 2020

With fall coming to an end, and winter quickly approaching, the New Year is just around the corner. This year has been challenging to say the least, but that didn’t limit our outreach programs throughout the state. We stayed busy by taking part in a number of events to continue our ongoing relationships and increase our engagement.

National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) is a nationwide 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.

The 6th Annual NAW took place between November 8-14, 2020. This year, the Michigan Apprenticeship Steering Committee, Inc. (MASCI) hosted a virtual event titled “USDOL Registered Apprentices Across Michigan” on November 9th. The event featured opening remarks and updates from Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrest, USDOL-OA State Director Russ Davis, USDOL-OA Regional Director Dean Guido, Michigan Building & Construction Trades Council Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Devlin, Upper Peninsula Construction Council Executive Director Tony Retaskie and myself as MASCI President. The event was a great success that included videos showcasing apprentices from different professional trades.  Apprenticeship is extremely important to our future and we would like to thank the journeyperson who mentors the apprentices throughout the apprenticeship process and shape them for the future. Operating Engineers 324 is proud to be able to participate in the NAW events. To view the National Apprenticeship Week Celebration videos, please visit

Operating Engineers 324 once again participated in Life Remodeled’s Six Day Project to help revitalization efforts within the City of Detroit.  We were part of over 2,000 volunteers who were able to remove blight on 71 different blocks, make improvements to Durfee Innovation Society and restore a broken-down playscape for neighborhood children.  The end results are incredible and make a difference on those impacted by blight.  It has been said that the volunteers take away more than they give in events like this.

On October 14th, Operating Engineers 324 hosted an informational meeting about Detroit’s Proposal N to assist contractors looking for information on how to register their business with the City of Detroit.  Proposal N is a five-year citywide project that will save and renovate thousands of houses in Detroit neighborhoods, while eliminating thousands more that cannot be restored and rehabilitated.  Under Proposal N, work will be done by Detroit companies and workers, with preference given to companies employing Detroiters as 51% or more of their workforce.  Proposal N has the backing and support of the Mayor and Detroit City Council and on Election Day, passed with the support of a majority of voters.

Operating Engineers 324 was able to contribute to the opening of the Burton Dog Park in Burton, Michigan on October 3rd.  Through our donation, they were able to build agility equipment that is both accessible to the public and will be beneficial to First Responders and police K-9 training. The park includes a sign noting “Operating Engineers 324 Agility Alley” in recognition of our contributions.  The Burton Dog Park is open to the public for free and is located at 4040 Lapeer Rd., Burton, MI 48509.

The Michigan Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (MiSTEM) Advisory Council was created by Michigan Legislature in 2015 and consists of business, higher education, K-12 education and philanthropic leaders. Over the past year, MiSTEM network has accomplished many noteworthy milestones:

  • Expanded and diversified the network from 160 participants to 400 participants
  • Strengthened relationships with partners
  • Provided $3.05 million in state grants to support K-12 STEM programs
  • Invested in the development of communications tools with the creation of its website and 16 regional websites
  • Increased communication and response to educator and community needs for virtual opportunities in professional learning and student programming during COVID-19
  • Developed “From Students to Stewards” – a collaboration among the MiSTEM Network, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) and Michigan Department of Education (MDE).  This collaboration provides network grants to help educators use place-based, real-world experiences to engage students and prepare them to be the next generation of water stewards with STEM careers that is water-focused.

The priorities for next year include strengthening the network even further, contributing to the COVID-19 Response and elevating Computer Science.

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 be able to gauge 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 lab collections.

In closing

I would like to take a moment to recognize and congratulate Tim Abler and Linda Wilczewski on their retirement.  It is well deserved with their many years of outstanding service to the Operating Engineers 324.  I wish you all a long, healthy and happy retirement!

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season and a happy, healthy New Year.

                            Lee Graham


Executive Director

Labor-Management Education Committee