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Labor-Management Education Committee – Lee Graham, Winter, 2023

Labor-Management Education Committee – Lee Graham, Winter 2023

With fall coming to an end and winter quickly approaching, the New Year is just around the corner. This year, we took part in several events to continue our ongoing relationships and our outreach.

On September 22, 2023, Operating Engineers and its partners were able to bring an amazing event to the children at the Detroit Children’s Hospital. For the 2nd year, we brought the American Cancer Society’s Big Dig event directly to the children most affected by pediatric cancer. Operating Engineers 324 and other members of the construction industry assisted the children with an immersion experience on heavy equipment outside the hospital. In the hospital lobby, simulators were available to allow the children who couldn’t leave the hospital the opportunity to experience what operating a construction machine is like. We would like to thank our partners for making this event a great and heartwarming success – McAllister/Michigan CAT Rentals, Barton Malow, Fessler & Bowman, Alta, Stoneco, Cadillac Asphalt, and Angelo Iafrate. We would also like to send a special thanks to Children’s Hospital for hosting.

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 registered 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 USDOL OA apprenticeship in preparing a highly skilled workforce to meet the talent needs of employers across diverse industries now and into the future. The 9th Annual NAW took place between November 13th-19th, 2023, with daily themes such as Apprenticeship for Youths, New and Emerging Industries, Underserved Populations, Women and Veterans/Federal Employees.

This year, the Michigan Apprenticeship Steering Community Inc., Michigan Building Trades and MUST Apprenticeship Roadshow hosted an Educator Open House on November 13th at the Operating Engineers 324 Construction Career Center in Howell, MI.  The event featured opening remarks and updates from Operating Engineers 324 Training Director John Osika, USDOL-OA Michigan State Director Russ Davis, Michigan Building & Construction Trades Council Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Devlin, Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Director Susan Corbin, and Office of Career and Technical Education Director Brian Pyles, Ph.D. After the presentations, educators had the opportunity to gain hands-on knowledge of many of the skills and equipment that registered apprentices become familiar with as part of their career. Guests were also able to have discussions with apprentice coordinators and instructors about how to identify and assist students with a future in the professional trades. The event was a great success, with over 150 Superintendents, Administrators, Principals, Counselors, Michigan Works Apprenticeship Success Coordinators, Athletic Directors, and other educators in attendance participating in a variety of hands-on workstations. Registered apprenticeship is extremely important to our future, and we would like to thank the journeypersons who mentor the apprentices throughout their apprenticeship and shape them for the future. Operating Engineers 324 is proud to be able to participate in the NAW events.

Operating Engineers 324 participated in Life Remodeled’s Six Day Project from October 2nd-7th, to help revitalization efforts within the city of Detroit.  As part of over 5,000 volunteers, we were able to remove 239 blocks of blight from vacant properties, and mowed lawns for seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities.

We are looking forward to our Contractor Roundtables, that will begin 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 to report from this past year and we are excited to get the Roundtables started.

The 1st Inaugural Annual Construction Science Expo Lansing hosted at the Impression 5 Science Center, held in partnership with MDOT, MAA, OE324 and many other industry professionals, was another success to be proud of. On October 3rd, over 300 eager students from the Lansing School District spent the day with industry leaders in construction and engineering and learned what it takes to become construction design or skilled trades professionals. The Construction Science Expo Detroit has educated more than 9,000 students over the last 11 years and provided job opportunities to those who are highly motivated and want to get their careers started right away.

On September 29, 2023, we participated in the MiCareerQuest Middle Michigan at Saginaw Valley State University Ryder Center. The event was hosted by Great Lakes Bay Michigan Works! and Michigan Works! Region 7B and is designed for students from an 11-county area including Arenac, Bay, Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Isabella, Iosco, Midland, Ogemaw, Roscommon and Saginaw. It allows students to have an interactive, hands-on event while providing information about career opportunities from working professionals.

Michigan Education Association (MEA) joined the Operating Engineers 324 at the Construction Career Center in Howell. The group participated in a hands-on tour and provided information on skilled trades opportunities. The group spoke about different paths to partner with each of our organizations in the future.

With the New Year approaching, 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 or the MUST Safety App. 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.

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

Lee Graham
Executive Director, Labor-Management Education Committee