The Annual Fundraiser Honors Veterans in the Building Trades
Washington, DC – On April 7, 2019 the AFL-CIO Investment Trust Corporation (ITC), United HealthCare (UHC), and North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) were proud to host the fourth annual fundraiser for Helmets to Hardhats (H2H). H2H is a national nonprofit that supports veterans as they transition from the military to civilian careers in union construction trades.
Each year the event brings together veterans with representatives of the building trades and labor communities to raise support and awareness for H2H. It also honors the brave men and women who served in the military, and their journey as they transition into a building trades apprenticeship program.
As in years past, the fundraiser was held on the eve of NABTU’s spring conference. Sean McGarvey, NABTU President, noted:
“North America’s Building Trades Unions are honored to recognize this esteemed program and its veterans during this annual event which is held in conjunction with our 2019 Legislative Conference.”
Ron Miller, Executive Secretary, Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council, spoke at the ceremony, stating:
“On behalf of the Council, I want to thank the AFL-CIO Investment Trust Corporation and the AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust. This incredible property wouldn’t be possible without their support. This project brought countless jobs to the local building trades, helping our union brothers and sisters earn good wages while contributing to a new local landmark.”
Randy Kinder, President of the ITC, added:
“The Helmets to Hardhats program offers opportunities for veterans to launch strong, long-lasting careers in the building trades and unions. In turn, the union workforce gains highly qualified veteran workers who hone their military-learned skills on the job. It’s a win-win experience for all.”
UHC’s Philip Barbaro, Senior Vice President, Public Sector and Labor & Trust noted:
“United Healthcare is honored to join with the AFL-CIO Investment Trust Corporation and North America’s Building Trades Unions to honor the invaluable work that H2H does to support our nation’s veterans.”
This year, two workers who were assisted by the program were recognized: Leam Nicholaides, a member of IBEW Local No. 98 in Philadelphia, PA, and Anthony Bishop, a member of Iron Workers Local No. 1 in Chicago, IL.
Nicholaides joined the Air Force in December 2011 in Montana and was deployed as active duty multiple times with his RED HORSE (Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer) unit, which vetted and constructed U.S. military bases overseas. He found out about the H2H program before starting basic training and gained more information from a sergeant on his squad, who convinced him to get into a union and focus on a trade once his tours were over.
After moving to Philadelphia, Nicholaides discovered the best way to get into a union in the Northeast was to have a direct connection to the organization. He said:
“But being in the military and not having any family or friends in the area, the only connection I had was Helmets to Hardhats.”
The program helped to transition him into a union apprenticeship program with Shelly Electric Company. He explained:
“The union has been supportive as far as military life goes. I already deployed once during my apprenticeship, and I’m being deployed again. It’s hard to find companies that will work with you under those circumstances. On paper they have to, but in reality, it’s hard.”
Lonnie R. Stephenson, International President of IBEW, acknowledges:
“Our local unions strongly support Helmets to Hardhats and members of the military as they transition to full-time careers. We understand that these veterans may still have military duties to perform. Our goal is to support them through the apprentice program and beyond through education, competitive salaries, and benefits.”
The other honoree, Bishop, served in the Navy out of California for four years as a construction mechanic. Afterwards, he started searching online for jobs, and that’s how he came across H2H.
“I was looking for work similar to what I did in the Navy—something hands-on and practical. When I found Helmets to Hardhats, I thought I would try and see if I could find work through the program. I received alerts about jobs, more than any other search engine that I used. Overall, I found more job opportunities through Helmets to Hardhats than any other resource.”
Bishop received notification through H2H that Local 1 in Chicago was taking applications for apprentices. He remembers thinking:
“My grandfather was a member in Iron Workers Local 395 in Hammond, IN, so I knew about the trade and what it was, so I figured why not?”
He completed the apprentice program four years ago and now enjoys an integrated work share through the union. When he was looking for a job, Bishop noted:
“The biggest benefit of H2H was how easy it was for me—I didn’t have to do a lot of digging around. The program brought a lot of information and resources to me, so making a decision and going through with hiring was that much easier. The kind of work that I know is available, the types of jobs that they help veterans find, are similar to something you would do when enlisted in the service. Those kinds of jobs don’t necessarily present themselves to you. A lot of times it’s word of mouth, and not well advertised.”
Eric Dean, International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union (IW), said at the event:
“The Iron Workers Union is pleased to offer opportunities to military veterans who have served in all of our Armed Forces. We offer competitive opportunities, benefits, and wages to help veterans transition to full-time jobs throughout the country.”
Darrell Roberts, the Executive Director for Helmets to Hardhats expressed his gratitude:
“Thanks to the generous support of the AFL-CIO Investment Trust Corporation, NABTU and United HealthCare, Helmets to Hardhats has helped transition more than 30,000 veterans since 2003. Helmets to Hardhats greatly values our relationship with these organizations, as well as the building trades and contractor communities.”
For those who would like to make a contribution to H2H, please contact their national office through their website at helmetstohardhats.org or by clicking below.
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