BUD Celebrates Four Years of Success

By on November 30, 2018

by Tom Finan, Executive Director, Construction Forum STL

Over 30 graduates of the Building Union Diversity (BUD) program, plus friends, union officials, and other program organizers and supporters of the program gathered at Carpenters Hall on Hampton Avenue Thursday night to celebrate five years of success for the program.

Since starting in 2014, BUD has conducted 14 cohorts of program participants. As of October, 162 persons had started the the program, with 142 completing (88%)  and 120 placed in positions (85%). The percentage of minorities enrolled in the program was 83%, with women representing 17% and veterans 6%.

BUD program leaders Thursday night.

The BUD program was launched in 2014 to bring more minority and female workers into the union trades in a partnership between the Building & Construction Trades Council, the Eastern Missouri Laborers District Council and the St. Louis-Kansas City Regional Carpenters, with funding from the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE) and the Missouri Division of Workforce Development.

Local unions open their training centers for the pre-apprentices during the five- to eight-week program to give them basic training and a feel for each of the trades. United Way and Metro also help, providing participants with transportation and assistance with other needs that may be preventing them from getting or keeping a job.

Participating apprenticeship programs include:

  • Brick Layers Joint Apprenticeship Training Program
  • St. Louis-Kansans City Carpenters Regional Council Apprenticeship Program
  • Construction Craft Laborers Joint Apprenticeship Training Program
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) LU 1 Joint Apprenticeship Training Program
  • Iron Workers Joint Apprenticeship Training Program
  • Operating Engineers Local 513 Joint Apprenticeship Training Program
  • Plumbers & Pipefitters Joint Apprenticeship Training Program
  • Sheet Metal Workers Joint Apprenticeship Training Program
  • Cement Masons Joint Apprenticeship Training Program
  • Floor Layers Joint Apprenticeship Program

‘Tell It Like It Is’

Henry Johnson III, curriculum director of Carpenters Joint Apprenticeship Program said that when he began working with the program Dr. John Gaal, recently retired director of training/workforce for the Carpenters told him, “Answer (participants’) questions honestly, don’t pull any punches. Tell it like it is.”

John Stiffler, executive director of the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council credited the carpenters, laborers and other unions, as well as partners such as the United Way and St. Louis Community Credit union with stepping up to help build the program over its history.

Charles Williams of the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE) told the graduates, “We need you to be the ambassadors of the program.”

BUD grads report on where they are currently working.

Barbara Huelsing-Evans, a graduate of the third BUD cohort, gave an amen to that sentiment, saying that she is constantly referring people to the program. Huelsing-Evans, who is not currently working in the trades but is employed at an inside job at a construction supplier, said, “BUD was — and is — a great pathway to a lasting career.”

Russ Signorino, program director for BUD, cited recent improvements to the program, including partnerships with Lyft and Metro Transit and increased financial literacy and lending services from St. Louis Community Credit Union.




About Tom Finan