Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Labor Unions partner to start Green Training Program- Massachusetts

'Green' trades jobs await training
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
By JIM KINNEY
Business writer

The Labor/Management Workplace Education Program, Carpenters Local 108, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 7 and other organized labor groups received $180,000 in federal stimulus money recently to start the program. It's part of $1 million in federal stimulus money the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development gave to six construction-trade training programs around the state.


SPRINGFIELD - Classes in a "green" building trades program run by UMass, area labor unions and contractors, won't begin for months, but organizers already have jobs or slots in more advanced apprenticeship programs lined up for 19 graduates.

"Our joint apprenticeship partners are optimistic," said Joseph F. Connolly, director of the Labor/Management Workplace Education Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

If the Springfield training goes well, Connolly said the Workplace Education Program would like to expand it to Holyoke, Amherst, Greenfield, Pittsfield and Northampton.

The Labor/Management Workplace Education Program, Carpenters Local 108, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 7 and other organized labor groups received $180,000 in federal stimulus money recently to start the program. It's part of $1 million in federal stimulus money the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development gave to six construction-trade training programs around the state. Three of the other five projects are in the Boston area, one is in Fitchburg and another is in Lowell.

Also the state Department of Energy Resources has announced $13 million in federal stimulus funding for 111 cities and towns across the state.

In the Pioneer Valley, Belchertown received a $149,812 grant to make its fire station, Lawrence Memorial Hall and its water-reclamation facility more efficient to heat and cool, according to a news release from the state. Erving will get $81,000 for a similar project at Town Hall. Middlefield received $121,278, Otis received $150,000, Ware $53,137, and Sunderland received $97,000 for similar efficiency projects.

Charlemont, Conway, Deerfield, Gill, Greenfield, Leverett, Montague, Northampton, Palmer and Shelburne all received $150,000 to pay down the cost of performance contracts. Those contracts are those where vendors do energy audits, install money-saving equipment then generally get paid out of the savings, said Lisa Capone, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Energy Resources. With these payments, the towns will be able to keep more of their energy savings in the future, Capone said.

Shutesbury will receive $56,673 for a solar power project at Town Hall. Palmer received $18,722 to install a solar hot-water heater for the offices at the town wastewater treatment plant.

All those projects would be perfect one day for graduates of the UMass program, Connolly said.

"People can go right from this program to a job, or into an apprenticeship program," he said.

Connolly said the program hopes to recruit 24 students, focusing on people with low incomes, minorities and women, in Springfield. He expects that only 19 will graduate, though.

Training will be at various Springfield locations and will be 170 hours over 10 weeks covering everything from basic math to the latest in energy technology.

"For instance we want to bring people up to UMass, there are some great things going on at UMass when it comes to green construction research," he said.

Eduardo Suarez, director of ECHO for Sustainable Development, a nonprofit that is working on the project, said construction workers in these green businesses can expect to earn $13.50 to $25 an hour.

People interested in the training should contact Suarez at (413) 335-6224 or via e-mail director@echosd.org

Jim Kinney can be reached at jkinney@repub.com


http://www.masslive.com/hampfrank/republican/index.ssf?/base/news-25/1266999308286590.xml&coll=1

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