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Jason Dilthey: From Small Business Owner to BAC Local 7 Craftsman

Editor’s Note: LaborPress is proud to present the 2022 Outstanding Apprentice of the Year Awards for Long Island and New York City on Thursday, June 16, hosted by Teamsters Local 282 in Lake Success, NY.  Today, we continue our ongoing series leading up to this year’s gala event introducing each of those fascinating and inspiring award-winners to the wider labor movement.

New York, NY – Jason Dilthey, Bricklayers and Allied Crafts (BAC) Local 7 apprentice, started his apprenticeship in July of 2017.

“Every seven-hundred-fifty hours they move you up a percentage on the pay scale. I’ve been in for five years at eighty-percent, so I have two more raises. And then I’ll become a one-hundred-percent journeyman mechanic after I pass the field test,” he happily tells LaborPress.

At 44, Dilthey says it took a while for him to be accepted into the program, but he comes to it with years of experience as a business owner. “I got into the program a little later in life than most people. I was thirty-nine when I got in. I was in the food business before that. I owned a deli and a food truck and an ice-cream store — and a whole bunch of other businesses before I got into this business.”

Today, he’s still astounded at how much the union has been able to teach him about the industry. Says Dilthey, “I can’t believe it, you know? Looking back how much that I’ve learned.”

The union is officially known as BAC Local 7  Tile, Marble and Terrazzo. Dilthey’s craft is tile, which has led him to work on some storied buildings, employing highly-specialized techniques to create what too many passersby take for granted — but is detailed and visually stunning work. One such building is the Moynihan Train Hall, the expansion of Penn Station into the James A. Farley Building. Both the original Penn Station and the Farley Building were designed by McKim, Mead & White in the Beaux-Arts style. Says Dilthey, “It’s brand new…it’s beautiful. Everything from the walls to the columns to the floor… is beautiful marble.”

Although he normally works strictly on tile, in the case of the Moynihan Train Hall, Dilthey says the pandemic changed that. “When I was there, the pandemic had just hit, so it was hard to get people back to work. We weren’t supposed to be setting [the floor], it was supposed to be the marble guys. [But] they couldn’t get enough marble guys to come in with the pandemic — so, we were allowed to set the floor.” He recommends people go to the building just to take a look at the work, which he justifiably takes pride in.

Dilthey has also been on the job at MoMA and Riverside Boulevard on the West Side Highway, among other locales. He says the union’s leadership, teachers and program coordinators have all been “hands on”leading him to good jobs and consistent employment. “You know, they kind of showed that they cared. And like I said, being an older guy coming in, I didn’t know what to expect, right? But from what I’ve been through, I can tell you that they did a great job training me. I’ve been employed almost the whole apprenticeship program, which — I don’t want to pat myself on the back — but it’s a good thing being employed as an apprentice for a long time like that.”

Dilthey is currently working at LaGuardia Airport “six days a week, ten hours a day.” The most challenging part about his job, he says, is being away from his family — wife Tara and eight-year-old daughter Lia. The family resides in Oceanside, NY.

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