New York, NY — The Ironworkers of Local 580 provide New York with aspects of its breathtaking skyline, and the architecture that has made the city and region famous. Their Curtain Walls dress the most beautiful buildings in the country. The bronze and stainless-steel entrances and finished lobbies are world renowned.

Local 580 comes through for the industry with stunning architectural design built on time, and with true craftsman quality within a budget.

From an architectural stair that is the center piece of a hotel lobby, to jail cell doors, the skilled Ironworkers of Local 580 are trained to get the job done. Training starts with Apprentices and continues throughout an Ironworker’s career, with the Journeyman Upgrading Programs.

Vincent Ruggiero is a stand-out 2023 Apprentice graduate of Local 580. LaborPress was able to find out more about Ruggiero, what he has learned, who inspired him, and much more.

32-year-old Ruggiero grew up on Long Island in Mineola. He now resides in North Babylon. He didn’t come from a union-member family, however, his parents shaped his character in a way that would be crucial for the hard work ahead. “I didn’t grow up with any union family members; however, I definitely gained my work ethic from my parents. My dad was an extremely hardworking family man who owned his own Boars Head and Tropicana routes for 30 years, never complaining and always being there for me and my two sisters. My mom also worked tirelessly as a teacher’s aide when she wasn’t raising a family full time, and continues to work still. It is these two people who made me who I am today.” 

Ruggiero originally followed in his father’s footsteps, until he no longer felt that role, job-wise, was for him. “I was driving a truck for a Boars Head route and I wanted a career change with better benefits and a pension. A great friend of mine has been in Local 580 for about 30 years and he took me under his wing and gave me the heads up that they were taking applications for apprentices. 

“I started my apprenticeship in 2018 and I graduated in 2023. It was the first ever 5-year program in the union’s history with the first year being a pre-apprenticeship where you only work in the field with no classroom hours. I believe this first year is designed to weed out who is cut out for the business. After that was a formal 4-year apprenticeship with school twice a week after work. The program was a minimum of 144 school hours a year, or 576 over 4 years. 

During his apprenticeship, Ruggiero learned important skills of the trade. He says,“Throughout my apprenticeship I learned many skills that have helped me every day on the job. I learned how to install stairs, curtain wall, and revolving doors through mock-ups. There were lessons on how to operate suspended scaffolds, boom lifts, scissor lifts etc. We did a lot of work with blueprints, math, and textbook work to give a better understanding of the mechanics of everyday iron working. Our whole second year was also dedicated to welding which is probably what I enjoy doing the most when it’s needed for the job,” he says. 

He continues with some specifics of his learning curve: “I had always been pretty good in school so classroom work wasn’t too challenging for me although most of it was all new to me. I had never worked in the construction industry before so working hard towards being a good, reliable mechanic was more of a challenge and a big accomplishment. The apprenticeship gave me the foundation for a basic understanding of how to operate heavy machinery, weld, install, etc., but the real challenge was putting in hard work on the job site every day to get better.” He adds, “Shoutout to all my 580 brothers at the company where I worked, Airflex, for showing me the ropes and making work fun the past six years. I owe a lot to all of them.”

Ruggiero’s current work involves “bouncing around on two different jobs. One is a canopy at Bud North in Long Island City where I’m welding sub-steel to eventually put panels on. The second is Queens Plaza north where we’re doing a stick wall system on the 12th floor. I’m currently working 40 hours a week.” 

Speaking of the artistic side of the trade, Ruggiero tells LaborPress, “I do find our work to be very artistic at times because it takes a lot of patience and skill to do a lot of our finish work. We did a bronze-cladded freestanding spiral staircase in a lobby on Willoughby Street in Brooklyn that came out beautifully. But I probably admire most the work that our Local did cleaning up the rubble after 9/11 and building the Freedom Tower.”

Eventually, he says, he’d like to go back to school to learn TIG and flux core welding. TIG is short for tungsten inert gas or Gas Tungsten arc welding.

Ruggiero was asked what were his special characteristics while he was in the training program that he believes may have made him stand out. “I think I was chosen for this award because of a combination of good attendance, great grades, and some of the relationships I built with instructors over the years. I believe my consistent hard work in and out of the classroom was the reason I received the award, although a lot of brothers and sisters were deserving and the whole class should be proud to graduate after going through the first ever 5-year program,” he adds.

Vincent Ruggiero


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