From the minor league baseball field to the field of HVAC operation, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 94 apprentice Joseph Serrapica blazed an uncommon career path into his respective trade. But he said that we wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I needed something secure and stable, and a union is secure and stable. But I’m happy I made that decision because it introduced a lot of knowledge to me that I wasn’t aware of,” said Serrapica

After a little more than three years in the apprenticeship Serrapica finished the program in June, but that wasn’t the end of his educational training. As soon as the apprenticeship was up, he signed up for a program to get his systems maintenance technician certification.

LaborPress is honoring that level of dedication in its trade apprentices honor awards ceremony. Serrapica said that he thinks he was chosen for Apprentice of the Year because of his attitude to never settle, especially when it comes to his education.

His career in the union so far has entailed construction on two major buildouts: Manhattan West and 550 Madison. He continues to work at 550 Madison as an operating engineer, where he is in charge of operating and maintaining all base-building HVAC equipment.  At both sites he had a hands-on role in commissioning equipment, which included Mammoth units and Carrier chillers and air handlers.

“We are the real first responders of the building if an emergency happens. The building is

undergoing multiple buildout of tenant floors, which allows us the see everything

before the walls are put up,” he said.

A friend of Serrapica’s whose father was in the union originally introduced him to Local 94 after he was laid off from an internship with Major League Baseball during the pandemic. Serrapica attended Fordham University in the Bronx and was drafted into a minor league baseball team after his senior year. He played for a few years upstate before multiple arm surgeries derailed his sports career.

When he went into the apprenticeship, Serrapica’s seriousness about the educational training set him apart. His studiousness is especially important in a field that centers on workers’ expertise on operating specialized equipment. Serrapica said that expertise is a payoff on the worksite

“If there’s a problem in the building and when you solve it, you feel good about it. You fix something in the building, you feel good about it,” he said.

Joseph Serrapica


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