ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — Brian Atkins is the Business Manager for Ironworkers Local 111, the union that has their training center in the southwestern portion of the city.
He represents workers that are apprentices or trainees, helping them out on projects like the Skybridge that just went up in downtown Moline.
"We have approximately 220 working members in our area," Atkins said. "We've got kids that weren't able to finish high school but were able to finish their GEDs and got their lives back together, so that they're coming in as 18 and 19 year old's."
Atkins says most of the apprentices or trainees are in between 25 and 35, working their full-time jobs and then coming in to the training center two evenings a week to learn their trade.
"We get people that come from other companies that maybe worked in a similar aspect to the skills we do, and moving along, if they try to better themselves and get in with with the trades, if they come in and have the skills, we welcome them."
The apprentices have to go through 4,200 hours of on the job training along with work both in the classroom and in the shop. The program takes three years to complete. It helps the people who work on bridge and schools in the Quad City area.
"We're not usually around for the celebrations at the end and the ribbon cuttings," Atkins said. "We're there. We put the foundation's in, and then once the building's up and the shell's up, we're gone until we do the ornamental hand rails."
The ultimate goal for an ironworker is to become a journeyman, somebody who's graduated through the apprenticeship program. The ironworkers and other building trades support the Impact agreement, which allows the customer to use skilled union labor in their projects. For more on Impact, click here. For more on Ironworkers Local 111, click here.