Massachusetts building trade unions say $9.5 billion in federal infrastructure dollars will fuel “apprenticeship boom”

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Frank Callahan, President of the Massachusetts Building Trades Unions, spoke about how Massachusetts Building Trades Unions are expanding apprenticeship programs across the state.
BOSTON – Speaking before an audience of union apprentices, union workers, labor leaders, and elected officials convened at SMART Local 17’s apprenticeship training center in Dorchester, building trades union leaders touted the power of union apprenticeships to transform lives and lift people and communities up into the middle class at Wednesday morning’s Opportunity Pipeline Event.
President Sean McGarvey of North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) spoke about how $9.5 billion in Massachusetts infrastructure dollars will help to create thousands of good-paying union jobs that impact lives and uplift communities for generations — including through an anticipated “apprenticeship boom.”
“We’re creating opportunities and moving people to the middle class through our training infrastructure,” said Sean McGarvey, President of North America’s Building Trades Unions. “The passage of historic federal investments in infrastructure ​​gives us the golden opportunity to create more pathway programs into the union building trades, and to expand pathway programs in the unionized construction sector across the United States.”
L to R: MBTU President Frank Callahan, NABTU President Steve McGarvey, GBBTU Business Agent Chaton Green, SMART 17 Business Representative Shamaiah Turner, Building Pathways Deputy Director Nancy Luc, and Plumbers Local 12 Organizer Yasmani Santiago.

“Massachusetts Building Trades Unions’ top priority is getting people the security, stability and pay of union construction careers: that journey starts as union apprentices.” said Frank Callahan, President of Massachusetts Building Trades Unions. “We work every day to reach out across Massachusetts, especially in historically underrepresented communities to afford this opportunity for people who haven’t had it. And our success shows – union building trades train 80% of all registered apprentices in Massachusetts.”

“It’s not just about what a union apprenticeship can provide workers – union apprentices and journeypersons are also taking care of the planet,” said Shamaiah Turner, Business Representative at SMART Local 17 and a graduate of the Building Pathways program. “With the federal investments in infrastructure passed by Congressional Democrats and President Biden, we’re going to see a lot of work coming our way in Massachusetts. Hiring registered union apprentices is the way to get the best craftsmanship.”
Building trades unions create life-changing opportunities by giving workers paid training, family-sustaining wages, top-quality health insurance benefits, and secure retirements. More women and people of color than ever are taking advantage of these opportunities. In fact, 92% of tradeswomen apprentices in Massachusetts are enrolled in union apprenticeship programs. With skyrocketing college tuition costs and rampant inflation, union trade jobs and paid apprenticeship programs offer a debt-free career path. And a lucrative one – union workers earn 18% more than non-union workers, a difference of around $10,000 a year.
“There are two types of people: union members and soon-to-be union members,” said Chaton Green, Business Agent at the Greater Boston Building Trades Unions and a graduate of the Building Pathways program. “In the building trades, we make sure that everyone has access to great union careers and that every worker after years of service has the opportunity to retire with a pension and annuity.”
“Registered apprenticeships provide workers with good wages and benefits, supervision and mentorship, and certifications and credentials that begin a career journey with opportunity for upward mobility,” said Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Lauren Jones. “Registered apprenticeship also drives greater equity within our workforce — and investments in the state’s registered apprenticeship program will boost partnerships that support diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
The Greater Boston building trades are a national leader in offering life-changing union apprenticeship opportunities, particularly for women and people of color. These programs offer students on-the-job training, paid classroom instruction, industry-leading wages, and good benefits — without the burden of student debt many college students incur.
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