The Apprentice(s)

Contributed PhotosThirty-two Hillhouse High students are in the process of completing 200 hours of needed training to start on the path to unionized construction jobs.

The students have been studying construction math, masonry, scaffolding, concrete, demolition, pipework, and road safety as part of a union-aided “Career Pathways Technology Training Corridor” program at the school. They earn academic credit. They also simultaneously complete vocational training hours that count toward guaranteed slots in construction apprenticeship programs.

The students in the program gathered at Hillhouse Monday to pour concrete, display benches they built and demonstrate other skills they’ve learned for an audience of public officials.

Mayor Toni Harp said later on her WNHH radio “Mayor Monday” program that the students will earn double the minimum wage in guaranteed apprenticeship, then receive a 10 percent raise after their first 100 hours. She noted that the Hillhouse program, which grew out of her “YouthStat” initiative, is one of several efforts in the city to guide students not necessarily destined for four-year colleges into productive, well-paying professions.

Hillhouse launched the program in conjunction with the New England Laborers’ Training Trust Fund and Laborers’ Local 455 and the not-for-profit Justice Education Center. The Board of Education has put $70,000 in it.

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posted by: THREEFIFTHS on May 8, 2017  3:26pm

Dozens of Hillhouse High students completed 200 hours of needed training to start on the path to guaranteed union construction jobs.

Again Snake-Oil and Three Card Monte being sold.Read this.

CT Unemployment Rate in Construction Industry Improving, But Remains Among Highest in US.

Connecticut’s unemployment rate in the construction industry remained among the highest in the U.S., ranked 39th among the 50 states in October, although the year-over-year change was the 12th best in the country.  Connecticut’s October unemployment rate in the industry was 6.7 percent, higher than the U.S. average of 5.7 percent, according to data released by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC).

I am the voice of the people.


posted by: robn on May 9, 2017  9:55am


Better compensation for unionized labor is the same reason why there is little construction in CT. Anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 of a construction cost can be labor (more if high skilled interior work is being done). As much as we in the supposedly progressive Northeast like to throw shade at places like Texas or Indiana, they have raging construction markets and growth in the real estste industry becuase its financially feasible to build. Non-unionized labor in those states don’t make as much money, but they have steadier work. As much as I appreciate the long ago history of american labor unions fighting exploitation, in the construction industry in particular, labor rates have put a chill on construction activity in states like CT (wth the exception of CA and NY becuase of the scale of their economies and relative financial independence.)

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on May 9, 2017  4:39pm

@ robn
A lot of Non-unionized labor in some states use undocumented immigrants.

14 Massachusetts companies fined for hiring unlawful employees
BOSTON — Following an investigation and audit of Form I-9 documents by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), 14 Massachusetts employers were fined a total of $175,122.70 in fiscal year (FY) 2013 for various employment violations.

Why I Hire Undocumented Workers

Using data from the U.S. Census, the Pew Hispanic Center estimated that there were eight million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. labor force in 2010. The Migration Policy Institute estimated the number a bit lower—6.4 million—in 2011, with retail trade employing 920,000, construction 910,000, agriculture 540,000 and manufacturing 520,000. Even using the lower Institute number, that means there is more than one undocumented worker for every one of the six million employers in the U.S.

posted by: 4theWorker on May 9, 2017  7:27pm

Why do People always have to attack Unions ?  Even when they do things for the betterment of the Community.  This only shows ignorance, or jealousy by individuals who rather complain about their bad situations then rather do something to make their Lives Better.  These Finger pointers do not realize that Construction Unions like Laborers Union 455 are trying to create a Better avenue of Life for the Community by educating and training them to become a Qualified worker with skills and knowledge in the Trades.  These Finger Pointers do not realize that AMERICA lacks in Young Quality Tradesmen to fill the opportunities that are needed to fill current and future Construction Jobs.  That unemployment is inflated, only due to the lack of individuals that are unemployed that have certified skills needed to fill the demands of manpower for the Jobs available.  Think about this, why would anyone, let alone a Country create Construction (a.k.a. Infrastructure) job opportunities if they know that presently there are not enough Qualified Trained Construction Workers to build a Quality Project. 
Like prior Generations, Unions are needed even more due to this demand.
So, before you write or comment Negatively on a article about a Construction Union like Laborers Union 455, look at the Big Picture.  Laborers Union 455 has been Supporting and Creating Great Lives in the New Haven Community for over 95 Years.

posted by: robn on May 10, 2017  6:57am

In this case I’m not bashing. I’m just pointing out the conundrum of an economic fact. Trade union efforts to maintain/raise wages has driven manufacturing out of state/country and for non portable things like local construction it’s just math. More expensive means less gets done. A friend I know who was involved with NYC iron workers said that they were so militant it was their position for many years that it didn’t matter if there was only one guy in the city working; they would never, ever lower their rates. And that city has become the poster child for being impossible for middle class people to survive there. (Extreme example because of limited land, but construction cost surely do contribute to the housing crisis.)

posted by: 4theWorker on May 10, 2017  8:01am

I agree that there are Some Unions out there that are “self-interested” or conduct themselves in a Militant manner.  But again, please stop and investigate and understand the reasons of trying to increase their Wages ..... It’s because of the Cost of Living created by the Government and Corporate AMERICA.  The constant raising of Taxes, and price of Everyday essentials.  The common person, the middle class working Poor person is dying out there ...  The 1% America is destroying the lower 99%.  We are living in a Modern day Slavery Era created by the controlling 1% America and their Politians.  Minimum Wage, Substandard Wages, No Pension or Health Packages, these are the Chains of Modern Day Slavery.  The Top 500 Corporation in America are the Plantation Owners.  Our Government abolished one Slave System for another one, except this time they get a piece of the action.
Unions may seem greedy in some people’s eyes, but they are the Only ones standing up for the Betterment of the Middle Class People of America.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on May 10, 2017  8:31am


You speak the truth. In fact unions help all workers.In fact unions have a positive impact on the wages of nonunion workers in industries and markets Also Unions play a pivotal role both in securing legislated labor protections and rights such as safety and health, overtime, and family/medical leave and in enforcing those rights on the job. When people say greedy unions.How are they greedy?

posted by: robn on May 10, 2017  8:44am


My problem is not so much self-interest but the tools with which one achieves that goal. The Yale unions’ Board of Alder takeover was an act of self-interest that abusively damaged what is supposed to be a democratic mechanism seving all citizens. They’ll say they got the votes which is correct, but they did so with a shock-and-awe campaign of outsider dollars and suburban union footsoldiers out door knocking. They’ve been in power now for six years now and New Haven taxpayers haven’t seen even a modest reduction in egregious property taxes and theres been no spike in robust employment. Case in point, Alder Marchand (who literally works for Yales Local 34) did his best to slow down a Yale construction project to assert bargaining leverage on the University.

But we digress. The subject of this article was unions giving job training and I stand by the well documented fact that an expensive union labor pool means more expensive and therefore less frequent construction. Wages add to the cost of living expenses you’re lamenting. Seattle in right now a living laboratory for a minimum wage hike; UWash is studying it, but everyone generally acknowledges that its been too short to tell how its all going to pan out.

posted by: Renewhavener on May 10, 2017  1:09pm

Programs like this focus on skills, which we need at all levels here in town.  I am therefore glad to see this program and encourage it.

Would advise those participating in the program to consider that while skills get you hired, your attitude on the project and towards the tasks that come your way is what keeps you hired.  It doesn’t matter whether you have a book or not.  No one in a training program that is going to tell you that, in my experience.

Think this is a major disconnect between the trade-unions, who get it, and the other non-trade-unions here in town, who don’t.  Heard word about one particular grievance which involved a maintenance union member being unwilling to physically stoop beneath or step over an obstacle in order to do their work.  On the jobsite, if you tell your employer you cannot be inconvenienced to do your job, trust you will find yourself back at the hall sipping coffee or home waiting for the phone to ring.

LIUNA in NH is a good organization.  They are pro-growth, which I appreciate.  Also appreciate that when their interests do not align with the BOA backed other unions, that people like Ralph Inorio, have no hesitation to show up and speak out against the forces of dumb:

While I like their new-school approach and where they are coming from, think 455 would agree (eventually) that there is a time and place for both union and non-union firms executing work in NH, as long as the firm hiring the workers are professional, safe and pay their bills. 

Where and when one firm gets involved over another tends to break along one factor: scale.  Know a lot of former union book holders who are now on their own and have opted to not sign as owner operators b/c the focus of their business is smaller in scale and does not demand a union labor pool to succeed. 

Q-bridge.  Union.  Your house.  Non-Union.  In-between?  Well, it may tend to be a bit of both round here.

posted by: 4theWorker on May 10, 2017  3:16pm

I was told that this Hillhouse Pre-Apprentice program focuses on not just Trade Skills, that it also focuses on Life Skills and Work ethics.  I’ve also been told that is how LiUNA 455’s Leadership approaches and expects from its Membership. 
I heard Mr. Inorio speak at that Alderman session that was mentioned in a prior comment, he does get it.  It seems that all he wants is a Fair playing ground in New Haven, being that who ever gets Construction projects in New Haven,  Public Funded or Privately Funded, wether it be Union or Non-Union, that the Developers and Contractors that get work in New Haven are held accountable to follow the City of New Haven’s 12 1/4 and 12 1/2 Ordinances.  It is quite evident that lately this Millionaire Developers come into New Haven and build their projects without having these Ordinances applied to them. 
So, Mr. Inorio gets it and all he wants is Fair play for New Haveners to get work.

posted by: Renewhavener on May 10, 2017  5:15pm

@ 4the… “It seems that all he wants is a Fair playing ground in New Haven, being that who ever gets Construction projects in New Haven,  Public Funded or Privately Funded, wether it be Union or Non-Union, that the Developers and Contractors that get work in New Haven are held accountable to follow the City of New Haven’s 12 1/4 and 12 1/2 Ordinances.”

Agree with everything you have said with one exception.  Will go reread them entirely myself later, but there is no Ordinance that I am aware of that can dictate how a privately funded investment gets done. 


From the Code:
Sec. 12¼-1. - Declaration of policy.
(a) The City of New Haven is committed to developing and nurturing a competitive local construction industry in which contractors for PUBLICLY financed projects provide efficient, high-quality services, pay competitive wages to their employees, and represent New Haven’s ethnic diversity (EMPHASIS MINE).