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St. Paul Ironworkers Pay for New Apprenticeship Facility By Twice Doubling Their Own Union Dues

Roberts addresses members.

Roberts addresses members.

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In St. Paul, Minnesota, Ironworkers Local 512 recently celebrated the opening of their new apprenticeship training center.  The 18,000 square foot facility cost $3.1 million to build and was paid for by members who voted twice to raise their own dues to make the project possible.  Business manager Charlie Roberts, for whom the facility will be named, told those in attendance at the celebration: “We built this on our own.  You can be proud of it. It’s the Ironworkers stuffing the bolts in the high iron who are responsible for this.”

Speaking at the event was St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman, who praised the union’s commitment to providing pathways to middle class careers.  Mayor Coleman spoke about the importance of Local 512’s efforts and their ability to work together to build a state-of-the art facility while plugging the city’s efforts to build a pro soccer stadium:

“Our job as elected officials is to make sure we have work for you.  When we keep investing in our community and you keep investing in yourselves, that’s how we grow a community.”

Currently, Local 512 represents 1,343 journey-level Ironworkers, 403 apprentices and 278 probationary members working in Minnesota, North Dakota and 21 counties in western Wisconsin.  Roberts says the investment will give the union a competitive edge for years to come, which is made even more necessary given the changing nature of the political landscape in the region.

“We’re in a different environment,” Roberts asserted. “We’re surrounded by right-to-work states, with Michigan and Wisconsin being the latest. We have got to step up our game.”

The investment in the apprenticeship training center allows Local 512 to grow its apprenticeship program.  The new training center will have 30 welding booths compared to the previous 19, eight classrooms compared to four, and will double the amount of shop space that can be used for training.  The facility is also tall enough to have a two-story training frame that apprentices can use.

Barry Davies, who will assume the role of business agent when Charlie Roberts steps down, told the crowd: “For the next 100 years we can train the best Ironworkers in the country because of this facility.”


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