Mahoning Valley ironworkers reach new heights – Business Journal Daily
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A social media post intrigued Jeremy Brush, seeing his cousin perched atop the steel framing of a 54-story building in Las Vegas.
Brush’s relative was an ironworker. As the two parents chatted, the 24-year-old Austintown native realized that not only his cousin was employed in the trade, but also some distant relatives.
“I really liked what they had to say,” he says.
Brush contacted Ironworkers Local 207 to begin his career path. Its workforce and contractors serve Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties and parts of Portage, Geauga and serve Mercer, Lawrence, Venango and parts of Beaver and Butler counties.
Anthony M. Deley, business manager and financial secretary of Ironworkers Local 207, says if anyone is interested in becoming a blacksmith they can find an application at IW207.com. Applications can be completed and brought to the office with a GED diploma or high school diploma.
Probationary courses are offered in the spring and summer. The course includes a 10 hour orientation course on occupational safety and health administration. Eventually, the students are sent to different jobs.
Tests and interviews follow before applicants can be accepted into local school 207, which runs from November to May, and begins their journey as part of a four-year program. The local section accommodates 30 to 40 people and this number is reduced to 20 to 25 after interviews and after four years of training.
People aged 20 to 23 are generally interested in the job, says Deley, but career opportunities also pique the interest of those aged 28 to 35.
He says there are four women among the women in the program.
“I could have a hundred more,” Deley said. “They are doing very well there. Great opportunity for them.
“Also with minorities, we just don’t see the apps coming.”
Those interested should show up for jobs, he says, have an aggressive work ethic, and be able to read a tape measure.
Local 207 is losing candidates, Deley says, because they lack the communication, time management, teamwork or other soft skills needed to be successful as a blacksmith. The local is working with high schools and trade schools to address this issue.
“We just want someone to work,” he says.
It typically takes two years for an apprentice to become certified and receive about 33 college credits toward an associate’s degree. Local 207 is affiliated with Cuyahoga Community College.
The Union Hall School on Bev Road in Boardman teaches math and welding – providing certification in armored and gas-metal-arc welding, rigging and combustion of acetylene with oxygen. Reinforced concrete and certification in prefabricated buildings are some of the many lessons that apprentices also learn in the classroom.
Local 207 and entrepreneurs pay for tuition. It costs around $ 40,000 to $ 50,000 per person over a four-year process of schoolwork and on-the-job training.
“It’s zero debt and you work on the job,” Deley says.
Brush, who is a second-year apprentice, says he was part of the Ultium Cells LLC project in Lords-town, working on the substructure of the Youngstown and Cleveland Bridges, as well as the South Field Energy Facility in Wellsville. There he was building an enclosure around a steam turbine generator where temperatures were 130 degrees inside the structure.
“Every day brings new challenges. And it’s fun, ”says Brush. “It helps control my self-discipline. Some days I don’t want to get up at five in the morning and go to work for ten hours. But it’s all worth it at the end of the week when I get my paycheck.
After four years of training and education, ironworkers could earn about $ 33 an hour – including benefits, retirement and more, Deley says. It increases each year from the starting salary of $ 20 an hour for a first year apprentice.
Building and mechanical foundations, retaining walls, bridge piers, and reinforcing structures are some of the work done by ironwork, as well as welding for the Ohio Department of Transportation or the Department of Transportation of Pennsylvania, or even the maintenance of factories.
Where there is a shortage of workers, Deley says there are ironworkers called travelers who come in from other locals to help fill the jobs.
Although this work here and elsewhere is temporary, the nearly 350 members of Local 207 are normally employed.
“I’ve been very busy,” says Brush. “I haven’t been gone for more than a week in a row. I think I was laid off maybe two weeks all year.
Full retirement is at age 56, says Deley. He’s in his 32nd year and explains that ironworkers can go from foreman to general foreman to superintendent of different jobs, or focus strictly on safety or organizing business development.
He could have used his GI Bill benefits to help pay for his college education, Brush says, but he wanted to get paid right away while still getting full retirement benefits and health care.
“They really take care of you,” he says. “The pay is great if you are looking for a challenge. “
Pictured: Anthony M. Deley is Business Manager and Financial Secretary of Ironworkers Local 207. “I could have a hundred more,” he says of the apprentices.
Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.