Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562 Officially Opens New Training Center
By Tim Rowden
Earth City, MO – Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562 held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at their state-of-the-art training facility in 3755 Corporate Trail Drive to mark the grand opening of the facility. The training center opened its doors in the summer of 2020, but with the restrictions related to COVID-19, the official opening has been postponed to September 22.
“We’ve waited two years to officially open these doors and we’re proud to have this facility,” said Local 562 Business Manager John O’Mara.
Members voted to pay the training center out of their own wages to ensure the highest quality training for apprentices and ongoing training for journeypersons and women in Local 562.
“Without our members, our training center would not be possible,” O’Mara said. “There’s a lot to be proud of, but their hard work has really made our training center state-of-the-art. We look forward to shaping the future.
O’Mara also thanked Local 562 vendors, owners, contractors and partners for their generous product donations and for “working together to make the job better every day and make Missouri the best it can be.”
“We are grateful for the relationships we have built over the years and look forward to the next 100 years,” he added.
ADDRESSING THE SHORTAGE OF WORKERS
“There are a lot of reasons why this training facility is here,” O’Mara said. “But one thing I do know – in every industry, you see people need help. They need skilled help. You always hear about all these labor shortages all across the country. It’s also here in St. Louis, but this building will change that.We’ve recruited over 500 apprentices here in the last two and a half years.
“What do we do about these shortages? What about skilled labor? Our solution consists of two things, education and training, and this building fills those gaps. It gives us the manpower we need. Our instructors are the cream of the crop. They teach. They are motivating. They are on the job sites preparing these young men and women in their first five years. We just keep figuring it out.
AT THE SERVICE OF THE REGION
The inauguration was attended by elected officials including St. Louis Mayor Tishuara Jones, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page and St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann.
“We’re right in the middle of those two regions,” O’Mara said. “And I think we are well placed to help both regions.”
INTERNATIONAL UNION LEADERS
The event brought together leaders of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters (UA), including General President Mark McManusAU Pat Kellett, General Secretary-Treasurer and former Business Manager of Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562, and Mike O’Mara, AU International Representative.
“The United Association is 133 years old and we are bigger than ever,” McManus said. “It is a wonderful and proud thing for every rank and file member of the United Association to be part of a growing and expanding labor movement, not a shrinking contract. Because it’s not a job, it’s a career.
Pat Kellett praised O’Mara for his work building the state-of-the-art training facility. “We are here because of John O’Mara and his vision,” Kellett said. “John, I can’t congratulate you enough on your vision. And you’re 100% right, it’s all about members. What you do for the men and women of the Saint-Louis region is fantastic.
Kellett stressed the importance of Local 562 contractors in keeping the training center up to date on new industry technologies. “We don’t do these things without sitting next to our contractors,” he said.
Mike O’Mara spoke of the enormous need for the training center to prepare the next generation of plumbers and pipe fitters. “We have about 4,500 members, including 3,200 in the field every day,” he said. “In ten years, 1,000 of them will be retired. What are you doing? How are you going to replace them? We do that with facilities like this and by joining our contractors because it’s not just about taking care of your family, it’s about taking care of the consumer and those who pay us well.
“We have 500 apprentices right now,” he said. “This place has room for growth. And that was part of John’s vision. How do we take care not only of today but of tomorrow, of the future of our business? None of this would be possible without contractors, without owners willing to use our workforce.
A group of first-year apprentices also attended the grand opening and helped saw off a large piece of PVC pipe, which Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562 cut, to mark the official opening of the training center.
Marcelous (Marty) Peshlakai, a first-year apprentice and member of the Navajo Nation, spoke about how important it was for him to receive training with Local 562.
“It’s such a blessing to be here. I would like to thank the staff, faculty and board for making this possible. It shows a lot of professionalism. It shows a lot of respect and integrity.
“I am a first-year apprentice plumber. There is so much work there. I am extremely proud to be part of this organization and this fellowship as well. Thank you very much for this opportunity.”