Building a Union Career

What makes the construction industry different from other industries?

Jobs can't be exported. It's hard to imagine a day where the building needed in Kansas will be built in China and shipped overseas. According to the Buireau for Labor Statistics, the construction industry has been identified as the only goods-producing sector in which employment is expected to grow between 2002 and 2012.


If you find yourself fascinated with the construction of bridges, skyscrapers, schools and roads, construction might be a career choice for you.

There are many career opportunities in the construction industry. These jobs include carpenters, masons, plumbers and electricians. Employees in these jobs are highly skilled in their trades and gain their education through registered apprenticeships, technical school/college programs or AAS degrees at local community colleges.

Twin Cities sprinkler fitters vote to strike

Members of Sprinkler Fitters Local 417 have voted to strike, overwhelmingly rejecting a proposed three-year contract offered by a contractors group. “They gave us their ‘last, final and best offer’ and the members voted it down quite substantially — 262 to reject, 2 to accept" on Monday, reported Jeff Motschenbacher, Local 417 business manager.

Local 417’s three-year contract with about 30 local contractors who are members of the National Fire Sprinkler Association expired May 31 at midnight. Read more »

Hundreds of construction workers participate in Workers Memorial Day ceremony in Saint Paul

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Still wearing hardhats and bright neon safety vests, hundreds of construction workers walked from their jobs building the new Senate Office Building and renovating the State Capitol to attend Tuesday’s Workers Memorial Day ceremony at the Capitol complex’s Workers Memorial Garden.  Read more »

MN Labor Leader Participates in White House Upskill Summit

IUPAT Business Manager Terry Nelson discusses community partnership, training and apprenticeship

On Friday, April 24, 2015, Terry Nelson, business manager of International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 82 of Little Canada, Minnesota, joined 150 employers, labor leaders, foundations, non-profits, educators and tech innovators from across the country at this White House summit that is answering President Obama’s recent call to action to equip workers with the skills they need to advance into better-paying jobs. Read more »

David Roe, Building Trades & MN AFL-CIO President Emeritus, will be on TPT Monday night

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Tune in Monday night, April 27th at 9:30pm, to the Mary Hanson Show on Twin Cities Public Television, TPT Channel 2.2. Mary's guest is Dave Roe, Minnesota AFL-CIO and MN Building Trades President Emeritus. The program is also available on YouTube. The interview is airing Monday night because that is the eve of Workers Memorial Day, dedicated to remembering those who have suffered and died on the job or are afflicted with work-related illnesses, and to the renewal of efforts to ensure safe workplaces for all. Read more »

Killed and injured workers to be remembered April 28

Workers Memorial Day in Minnesota will have a special focus this year on the threats facing mental health workers. In addition to events at construction sites and union halls on April 28, AFSCME will march at six treatment centers. Building Trades unions will hold a ceremony at noon at the Workers Memorial Garden on the grounds of the state Capitol. Read more »

Employment Trends and Projections in Construction

Beginning this year, the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) will publish Quarterly Data Reports to illuminate the quickly changing construction industry and better serve construction stakeholders. These data reports, published on CPWR’s website, will cover topics directly related to the safety and health of construction workers. They will be presented in a similar format to the CPWR Data Briefs, but will be published four times per year. Read more »

Injured Workers Suffer As 'Reforms' Limit Workers' Compensation Benefits

(NPR/ProPublica) Dennis Whedbee's crew was rushing to prepare an oil well for pumping on the Sweet Grass Woman lease site, a speck of dusty plains rich with crude in Mandaree, N.D.

It was getting late that September afternoon in 2012. Whedbee, a 50-year-old derrick hand, was helping another worker remove a pipe fitting on top of the well when it suddenly blew. Read more »

Trades sponsor Women Building Minnesota info sessions

Women considering a career in the construction industry can learn what it takes – and why it pays – to become a successful tradeswoman at two Women Building Minnesota information sessions next month. Read more »

Tradespeople make their case for construction careers

(Duluth News Tribune) “We gotta get young blood into our crafts,” said Russ Whitehouse, a retired Duluth ironworker who continues to serve as an apprentice instructor. “We’re starting to get older.” Read more »

Helping Women Veterans Find Sheet Metal Apprenticeships

After serving their country, many veterans have trouble transitioning into civilian jobs, particularly younger and female service members. The unemployment rate among all veterans ages 18–24 is 21.3% (compared to 13.1% of civilians.  And while male veterans have an unemployment rate (4.2%) lower than the national rate, female veterans are much worse off with a 7.9% unemployment rate. Read more »