New York, NY – For Thomas Foley, Jr. — trade unionism is a family affair. The 23-year-old, Queens native decided to follow his dad into Stone Derrickmen and Iron Workers Local 197 three years ago, when he determined to get into the union’s apprenticeship program.
Foley’s dad may be a Local 197 veteran — but the younger Thomas still had to go through the lengthy process of gaining an application, scoring an interview and acing physical and written examinations. The whole process took about two months before Foley, Jr. was actually accepted into Local 197’s training program.
The Whitestone, Queens product just completed his apprenticeship training this past June. Before entering the program, however, Foley, Jr. attended two years of college studying construction management. He even did a summer internship, but ultimately realized, “it wasn’t for me.”
“I liked the hands-on work,” Foley, Jr. says.
During his Local 197 apprenticeship, Foley, Jr. worked full-time while also attending class twice-a-week. Working alongside five journeymen and another apprentice on curtain walls during the latter part of his apprenticeship, Foley, Jr. gained an acute understanding of the work’s importance.
“Everyone I work with helps out,” Foley, Jr. said at the time. “We’re the future of the business and they want us to have the best reputation for the future — to be the best it can be. I really like [the work]. Every day is different. It’s not the same all the time; you are constantly learning something new. School has also helped. It’s a stepping stone for what you’ll do when you get out and get into the field.”