Union training center at Tech Meadows ready to weld workers to jobs
Sunday, August 18, 2013
“Classes start in three weeks. So we're hustling," said Scott Martel, business manager of Local 773 of the United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters.
Apprentices will be trained at the center in plumbing, welding, pipe-fitting, heating and air conditioning.
Apprentices typically spend five years in the training program, which includes paid on-the-job training at job sites in the region.
“They earn while they learn," Martel said, as members of the Greater Glens Falls Local Development Corp. board toured the center on Thursday.
The union will hold a public open house on Sept. 14.
The $2.3 million center includes a “clean room" for training workers in skills needed at places such as the GlobalFoundries computer chip plant in Malta.
“This room alone was about $400,000," Martel said.
The center is suitable for training medical device plant workers, not just plumbers, said Glens Falls Economic/Community Development Director Edward Bartholomew.
Other features of the center include a $15,000 demonstration panel used to teach specialized skills for working medical gas equipment.
The center has 18 welding training booths, while the union's former training center on Bluebird Road in South Glens Falls had just seven booths.
The new center has a welding simulator testing device, which operates like a video game.
Glens Falls Mayor John “Jack" Diamond tried out the device.
“So what's the results?" Diamond asked Nelson Charron, of the plumber's union.
“Not good mayor," said Charron, without divulging the actual score.
“I'd better not give up my day job," Diamond quipped.
The training center has a 185-seat classroom/conference room.
Martel said union members are impressed with the video and sound system.
“All of the apprentices say, "This is where we're watching the Super Bowl,'" he said.
The city will be conducting a program at the center to train workers how to remove hazardous materials, such as lead paint and asbestos, from older buildings, and for work on environmental projects such as Hudson River dredging, Bartholomew said.
The city received a $200,000 federal Environmental Protection Agency grant to provide the training for unemployed and low-to-moderate income residents of Warren, Washington and Saratoga counties.
The training center is the first employer to move into Tech Meadows industrial park, at the corner of Luzerne and Veterans roads, near Northway Exit 18.
“The city, 13 years ago with Queensbury, had a dream. ... Today we see the fruition," Bartholomew said.
Six other lots are available for development at the business park, which the local development group owns.