March 26, 2015
By Bill Hohlfeld
Sam Fratto is a practical man. He has to be. He is Business Manager of Local 363, of the IBEW and as such, he is responsible for the livelihood of thousands of electrical workers throughout the Hudson Valley and upstate New York. That is why he, and his organization, are currently in recruitment mode.
Despite all the doom and gloom we often hear in the media about the economy, Sam is quite optimistic. “The economy is changing,” he says. “ Soon there is going to be work all over the Hudson Valley.”
He is referring specifically to the soon to be constructed casino in Sullivan County, as well as the powerhouse designed and slated to be built in Wawayanda, in Orange County. Both are huge projects that will call for a well trained electrical labor pool, and Mr. Fratto has every intention of being able to supply that labor.
Of course an increase in the work load is not the only reason to think ahead to avoid a labor shortage. The question of demographics also comes into play. With a significant number of the 363 workforce rapidly approaching retirement, the time to think about lining up their replacements is now.
Despite his practicality, Sam has a philosophical streak as well. “ I disagree with the notion that kids today donʼt want to work,” he says. “ We just need to teach them how to work.” He is a true believer in the kind of of structure Apprenticeship Training can provide to those just leaving school. “ In the trades, you learn you have obligations. There is school attendance and work attendance. Dependability gets rewarded. We also demonstrate the value of planning. Every project has a beginning and an end. You learn to put first things first.”
Finally, he wishes that our public education system, high school guidance counselors in particular, would be more open to the trade opportunities that are available to young people these days. He sees a need for greater emphasis on trade related training, what used to be described as vocational. But he thinks we need to not only provide it but remove the stigma that somehow got attached to it. He summed it up nicely.
“ We need people who want to do things with their hands. Itʼs unfortunate, but some people still have preconceived notions about labor.”