An apprenticeship with the United Association Plumbers Local No. 1 union gives men and women an opportunity at a career, not just a job, director of trade education Artie Klock said.
People slept outside the union hall at 37-11 47 Ave. in Long Island City since July 2 for the opportunity to fill out one of 1,000 applications for a five-year apprentice program. There were 1,200 people waiting in line on July 5 when the applications began rapidly flying out the door. The enrollment process started at 8 a.m. and ended at noon.
“Not too many were disappointed, but a few,” Klock said.
However, an application in hand does not guarantee admittance into the program. Over the next two years the union will enroll 200 to 250 applicants.
“The journeyman population is going to age out. The baby boom generation is working its way through and will retire in the next 10 years,” Klock said.
Once an application is submitted, each person takes an aptitude test administered by the state Department of Labor. Results put each person in one of three tiers. An interview process also differentiates candidates.
Applicants must pass a drug test and have received a C or better in math during high school or scored at least a 550 in math during their GED exam.
Potential union members receive extra points for work experience. Veterans get a leg up as well.
A goal of the union is to have 15 percent of its membership be women. If there are not enough qualified women in this pool, the union seeks candidates through the Nontraditional Employment for Women organization.
Apprentices in the program start off at $14 an hour and graduate earning $50 an hour. Some training fees are deducted from the apprentice’s pay, which provides necessary training and an associate degree in science from Empire State College.
Journeymen, who perform plumbing jobs in all five boroughs for anything from large-scale jobs at the World Trade Center to small jobs in homes, receive a pension and 401(k) as well as benefits.
“This is an opportunity at a career,” Klock said.