Tours conducted at two union training facilities

Russ Unger, apprenticeship cooridnator, explains the ventilation process at the training facility of Sheet Metal Workers Local 36 during tours Saturday in Fulton. The ductwork cleans air taken from the welding area and recirculates it throughout the building.

Russ Unger, apprenticeship cooridnator, explains the ventilation process at the training facility of Sheet Metal Workers Local 36 during tours Saturday in Fulton. The ductwork cleans air taken from the welding area and recirculates it throughout the building. Matt Antone for the Fulton Sun

Free tours of two Fulton union training facilities were offered Saturday as part of “The Way We Worked” Smithsonian exhibition at the National Churchill Museum in Fulton.

Tours of the Sheet Metal Workers Local 36 school at 101 Industrial Dr. were conducted by Russ Unger, apprenticeship coordinator, at the school.

Unger said union apprentices undergo five years of a combination of on-the-job training along with classroom and work practice training at the school before they become a journeyman sheet metal worker. Workers seeking the certification travel from central and north Missouri to the union training facility in Fulton.

Even after receiving journeyman certification, sheet metal union members must receive updated skill and technology training every six months at the school in order to maintain certification from the American Welding Society.

Unger said welders now comprise about one-third of sheet metal workers and welding continues to play a larger role in modern sheet metal fabrication.

In anticipation of construction of a second nuclear reactor at Ameren Missouri’s Callaway Energy Center, the Fulton training school two years ago added a 3,000 square foot expansion to the school.

The building addition includes a classroom and more welding facilities. “Building a second reactor at the Callaway nuclear plant would be a tremendous generator of jobs in this area. It would benefit not only workers who are directly involved but pump a lot of extra money into Callaway County’s economy,” Unger said.

Each year about 3,500 sheet metal workers receive training at the school in Fulton.

“We have about 50 apprentices undergoing training now. During their five-year apprenticeships, they spend one week in training here four times a year. The rest of the time they are receiving on-the-job training where they work,” Unger said.

At the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562 at 101 Industrial Dr., union business agent Mark Fohey conducted tours of the training school Saturday afternoon.

Fohey said about 350 union members receive training each year at the Fulton school.

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