Electricians’ union pledges to train more Detroiters under new agreement with city

 In News Article

The main union representing electrical workers in Detroit signed an agreement with the city that strives to triple the number of Detroiters it trains in the field over the next decade.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 58 is participating in Mayor Mike Duggan’s Skilled Trades Employment Program (STEP), launched in 2016 to bring skilled trade opportunities to city residents by pairing them with training providers. The city and Detroit-based union signed the nonbinding, nonfinancial partnership deal Thursday, according to a city news release.

Under the agreement, Local 58 is tasked with increasing the percentage of Detroiters in apprenticeship programs each year, achieving 25 percent by 2022 and continuing to hit that target going forward. It aims to train 500 Detroiters in the next 10 years.

It is unclear what percentage of workers in the union’s electrician training program now are Detroit residents. The union could not be reached Thursday evening.

Local 58 joins Plumbers Local 98 and local units of Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights in the commitment. Those two unions struck similar agreements with the city in 2016 and 2017, respectively. The city says both have so far exceeded their commitments, with 29 percent of Detroit residents making up the plumbers training program and 26 percent in carpenters training.

The STEP program engages Joint Apprentice Training Committees and sets annual goals for training and employing Detroit residents. It is also designed to make it easier for developers to meet the requirement that 51 percent of workers must be from Detroit for projects inside city lines. Developers are largely coming up short, with Little Caesars Arena being one of the most recent prominent examples. Noncomplying projects are fined, and that money is invested in workforce training efforts. So far, $6 million has been raised for the fund.

Contractors who hire workers from unions participating in STEP are considered in compliance with the Detroit-resident workforce requirements, as long as the unions meet the requirements of their deals with the city.

“This is a continuation of IBEW Local 58’s efforts to recruit and communicate our opportunities in Detroit, including our efforts at Randolph Career Tech Center, to career days and job fairs at Detroit schools, as well as community service efforts. Through STEP, we are formalizing these efforts,” Brian Richard, business manager for Local 58, said in a written statement.

Pledges from the three unions put them on pace to train at least 1,500 Detroiters to become electricians, carpenters and plumbers over the next decade.

“Construction work in Detroit is growing with no signs of slowing down and the most important question to me is whether Detroiters are participating in these opportunities,” Duggan said in the release.

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