BOSTON’S FUTURE is looking bright. Cranes are as much a part of our landscape as statues of colonial heroes, with large development projects clearly visible across the entire cities of Boston and Cambridge. The volume of construction projects, those ongoing and those still on the drawing board, is good news for our city in this 21st century economy. 

It’s also good news for those seeking employment, especially in the wake of what’s happening in our nation’s capitol. Greedy contractors want the US Department of Labor to destroy apprenticeship programs and institute Industry-Recognized Apprentice Programs (IRAPs). IRAPs would grant employers and trade associations freedom to cut corners, weaken standards, lower quality and reduce wages for the union building trades. The effects of this program would be horribly destructive. Students would be left with shoddy instruction, no job prospects and a mountain of debt. 

IRAPs are just another attempt to establish unscrupulous vocational-trade schools. These programs promise great careers, but cost thousands of dollars and skirt the industry standard for safety and skills training. 

Union-sponsored training stands in stark contrast. Our pipefitting, welding and HVAC technician programs ensure safe apprentice-to-journeyperson ratios, quality assurance assessments, mandatory safety training and instructor eligibility and transparency requirements. As Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and contractors said at our open house, our training is not only the best in the business, but it’s a ticket to employment and economic independence. Contractors and other employers are confident that they’re getting the best-trained workers in the industry, which ensures the highest levels of public safety. 

That’s why we’re doubling down on our commitment to making sure that this excellence, rooted in our top-notch apprenticeship programs, is here to stay. We opened a new, four-story training center and campus in Dorchester this spring. Our programs, taught by our own industry professionals, provide instruction from the basics to cutting-edge technology. Our apprentices are educated and grow over their five-year apprenticeship to become journeymen and journeywomen. Upon graduation, they leave with jobs, great benefits including healthcare and retirement and best of all, no debt. 

Our city is better for it, too. As we celebrate hardworking men and women across Massachusetts this Labor Day, we’re looking to an exciting future where communities are being built by union labor and building booms are generating great jobs and economic growth. 

We encourage folks to come visit our state-of-the-art center in Dorchester, learn about our real-world training and invest in our region’s future – and their own. Our apprenticeships begins at the novice level and are for people who simply come with a sincere desire to work hard to become master craftsmen and craftswomen. Central to our mission is ensuring that our workers continue to receive and bring the highest level of skills to every job site. We want to make sure that everyone in our city has a place in Boston’s bright future. On this Labor Day, we’re committed to making that a reality.

Brian Kelly is the Business Manager at Pipefitters Local 537.