Lake Success, NY—Over 400 people were in attendance to participate in LaborPress’s Annual Apprentice Awards ceremony at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters’ Local 282 spacious union hall, demonstrating LaborPress’s commitment to proceeding with its awards events despite the pandemic.
The honorees included 16 apprentices, including the honoring of a training director and an organizer.The apprentices hail from a number of building trades unions, including Alyssa Pascion-Dikaitis, a Plumbers Local Union No. 1 Apprentice. She used to work as a nurse’s aide and an EMT in Yonkers, NY before beginning her plumbing career. She’s in the fifth year of her five-year apprenticeship and says she’s happy to be working with a good shop, Cardoza Plumbing.
“And every foreman, every journey worker that I’ve met, they’ve shown me nothing but support, and they’re really good. Really gracious. They let me learn at my own pace, and they challenge me when I need to be challenged. It’s been a nice five years as an apprentice,” said
LaborPress recently spoke to another honoree, Erin DeVera, a 35-year-old Outstanding Apprentice Awardee and International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) member. She’s nearing completion of her apprenticeship and she said in an interview that she’s learned a lot on the job the past three years.
“The skills I’ve learned are very mechanical. I worked in healthcare for twelve years; I had some knowledge of tools and everything, but it was very broad. Getting the theory of things from books and then moving to hands-on training was very useful. I learned things like changing parts of motor, welding—something I wouldn’t necessarily do just off the bat,” said DeVera.
Adis Malevic, of IUOE Local 94, was born during the height of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina 30 years ago. He and his parents fled the fighting and settled in Midwood, Brooklyn and then in Marine Park. He previously obtained his refrigeration license before enrolling in an apprenticeship, where he learned numerous skills.
“It’s great to learn things in school and then bring it to work and apply it to work. So, anything I learned in school—motors and the continuity between the windings and the motors—I would come to work and shut the motor off, and I would test just to validate the education I recently learned…. That was the biggest benefit of being an apprentice and going to school,” said Malevic. Welington Baque is a proud member of Iron Workers Local 46. He started his career in the industry as a non-union worker, but soon learned of the invaluable apprenticeship program offered by the Iron Workers, which elevated his overall skill set.
“I learned extensive knowledge of reinforcing concrete and ironwork, but also how to implement various safety measures and learn different methods to finish each job adequately,” said Baque.
He’s currently working on the LaGuardia Airport expansion and is glad to be a union member on the job.
Guy Luersee is another ironworker, a member of Ironworkers Local 361. He served 14 years in the U.S. Armed Services and served two tours in Afghanistan. He says becoming a trade unionist is probably the best thing that’s ever happened to him because it gave him a pathway to the middle class. Just as with the other honorees, he learned a range of skills during his apprenticeship with the ironworkers, such as rigging, bolt technology, welding and working with cranes—assembly and disassembly.
His favorite aspect of the apprenticeship was learning about cranes.
“My favorite part was learning how to work with cranes. I enjoy the fast pace of setting steel in a raising gang,” said Luerssen. He’s worked on a number of vital projects, currently working at the Throgs Neck Bridge doing steel repairs.
Tommy Zultko, the director of Jobs Training at International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 282, is the recipient of the Outstanding Training Director award. He’s also a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces who is celebrating his 25 th anniversary at the local’s training center. He’s taught many students over the years, taking joy in their successes. For example, when he takes somebody out for a road test and they seem nervous, he reminds them don’t be.
“Let me nervous for you,” he tells them. And when they pass the test, it’s a big weight off their shoulder. “They’re smiling. They’re hugging you. They can’t thank you enough. That’s my reward,” Zultko said.
The training center exposes apprentices to a myriad of educational programming including CDL Class A Tractor Trailer training, OSHA Construction Industry training and 40-hour Hazmat training, among others.
The other honorees recognized at the June 16 LaborPress event include:
- James Kazmierczak, United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe fitting Industry, Steamfitter Local 638
- Elizabeth Scrubb, United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbingand Pipe fitting Industry, Steamfitters Local 638
- Jason Dilthey, Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 7
- Kodi Foust, NYC Dist Council of Carpenters, Local 157
- Eric Reynolds, NYC Dist Council of Carpenters, Local 157
- Meghan Frederickson, Sheet Metal Air Rail Transportation, Local 28
- Brodie Besemer, International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 14
- Victor Gutierrez, International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 14
- Zachary Parker, International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 15
- Patrick Graham, Ironworkers, Local 197
- Stephen Laurenzi, Ironworkers, Local 580
- Eddie Jorge, Outstanding Organizer Honoree, NYS District Council of Ironworkers
Special Recognition goes to the newly-unionized ironworkers at U.S. Crane and Rigging; NYS Ironworkers President James Mahoney; and Ironworkers Local 197 Business Manager William Hayes.