UA Plumbers Local No. 1; IBEW Local No. 3 Graduate Classes from SUNY Empire
By David Henahan
July 19, 2011
For the first time, 34 apprentices from the United Association of the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union No. 1 graduated from SUNY Empire State College’s Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies with Associate of Science degrees.
They joined 226 apprentices from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local No.3, who graduated with Associate of Science, Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. This is the 38th consecutive Local No.3 graduating class.
The ceremony was held June 17 at Columbia University’s Alfred Lerner Hall in New York City. Both union locals require and pay for apprentices to earn an associate degree through Empire State College in order to better prepare them for participation in the many facets of organized labor and the construction trades.
“I wish success and prosperity to the first graduating class from Local No.1,” said George W. Reilly, business manager of the union. “Earning a degree from SUNY Empire State College demonstrates that Local No.1 apprentices are a motivated, educated and effective workforce. Thanks to their on-the-job training and SUNY degree, Local No.1 apprentices are better prepared for not just jobs, but for careers. A SUNY degree helps our apprentices to apply critical thinking to what they see, hear and believe so that, like college graduates across the country, they can improve the world in which we live. These outstanding men and women will help strengthen the middle class. Graduation is a wonderful opportunity to showcase our apprentices and what Local No.1 is all about.”
“The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local No.3 takes great pride in the graduation of our apprentices from SUNY Empire State College,” said Christopher Erikson, business manager of IBEW Local No.3 and the 2011 commencement speaker. In his address to the graduates, Erikson said, “Harry Van Arsdale Jr. was a visionary and the captains of industry sought and relied on his advice and counsel. Through his integrity, he ensured labor’s role was respected. Most importantly, he believed, and we all still believe, the only purpose of the union is to serve its members. All of us have the responsibility to fight to preserve the middle-class way of life. With a college degree, you have another tool to meet the complex challenges you will face and I wish the class of 2011 all the best life can offer.”
As part of the 2011 graduation celebration, the college produced Pipe Dreams, a collection of essays by the Local No.1 apprentices. In addition, the college published the second annual edition of Labor Writes. This year, Labor Writes contains essays from both Local No.3 and Local No.1. The inaugural edition of Labor Writes contained work from Local No.3 only. Labor Writes also includes photographs of art projects or completed works of art by Local 3 apprentices. The two publications are designed to showcase the experience and ability of apprentices in these fields. More importantly, these publications serve to better tell labor’s story to a wider audience through the students.
More than 7,600 have earned a degree or certificate from the center for labor studies since the college’s founding 40 years ago, including nearly 5,900 members of IBEW’s Local No.3 who have earned an associate degree.
Earning an associate degree is an explicit part of the requirements for an apprentice in Local No. 3 and apprentices can earn a bachelor’s degree. Both degrees are designed to meet the needs of the union and the worker.