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 — Married Bayshore father of two Brodie Besemer came to Local 14’s apprentice program through Helmets to Hardhats, the national nonprofit program that connects transitioning active-duty military service members, veterans, National Guard members and reservists to skilled training and quality career opportunities throughout the construction industry. The thirty-two year-old served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2008 to 2011, deploying to both Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I went through the application process with the help of Helmets to Hardhats and everybody over there was so helpful and really gave me the best opportunity to have access to the opportunity with Local 14 — and really put me in a great situation there,” Besemer says.
He completed the program in February and got his union book. He compared the learning process to, “drinking from a fire hose as far as information and learning everything that you need to know at first.
One of the biggest challenges, Besemer says, was learning to work with heavy equipment — but one he has been able to meet head on over time.
“That can be a lot to take on, especially with no background,” the former Marine says. “So, you start off just getting comfortable around the machines, doing maintenance on them, learning about them, classroom time finding out everything you can about them — and then getting around them on the job and at the training facility with supervision at first.”
After that, Besemer says, “[You’re] able to kind of take on smaller jobs — I guess you’d say, the easier-to-get-into equipment like moles, forklifts and telehandlers, things like that. Then you kind of gradually step up from there.”
When asked how he feels about his journey from the military to working on heavy machinery, Besemer says, “It changed my life. It was the opportunity. I mean, sometimes I’m driving home from work and I’m on the Grand Central sitting in traffic — and I just have this wave of like immense gratitude. Who’s got a better job than me? It’s challenging, like you can’t believe you’re expected to be an expert on the machine with no room for error. You hold yourself to a higher standard — especially as as an operating engineer in Local 14, you’re expected to be the best. Obviously, I have a lot to learn still. Everyone does. You learn something every day. But that’s the measure of it.”