Jobs, growth potential found in skilled trades


Above: Jamin Palmer of Tecumseh strikes the wall, compacting and sealing the joint to finish the outer wall of a building.

By Christine MacIntyre

Staff writer

The skilled trades consistently prove to be a lucrative career choice for those individuals who enjoy hands-on work, physical activity, being outdoors, and the potential for a change in scenery from job to job. In particular, the masonry field offers ample options for employment both for those freshly graduated from high school and those who are further along in life.

Jamin Palmer of Tecumseh has been in the masonry field for three years, first starting out as a non-union residential bricklayer before moving on to the apprenticeship training program through the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Union which he completed in February.

People of all ages, skill levels and backgrounds enjoy the immediate gratification that is part of this trade as piles of brick, block, or stone are utilized to build and craft beautiful buildings and to restore previous work.

“I enjoy it,” Palmer says of the trade. “It’s hard work and I like to see the results of the job when it’s finished.”

Immediate jobs are available for skilled trowel trade workers, including bricklayers, experienced caulkers, experienced cement masons, experienced façade restoration bricklayers, tile setters, file helpers, marble masons, marble mason helpers, terrazzo mechanics, and terrazzo helpers.

Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 2 has rolled out a Signing Bonus Program for skilled craftworkers who want to work in the crafts listed above: $2,000 for journey level workers and $1,000 for those who are not yet journey level but have the skills to command the wages of a craftworker above the entry apprentice level. Referring members also benefit as they receive the same bonus as those who come to work.

According to a statement released via the website, Local 2 will pay a signing bonus for skilled craftworkers who come to work for one of the union contractors for a month. Good standing Local 2 members can also receive a finder’s referral bonus for each new recruit that stays working for at least one month.

BAC Local 2 offers their members high wage rates and overtime pay, as well as benefits with no deduction from hourly wage: health insurance for members and their families; defined benefit pensions; vacation pay; accidental death and dismemberment benefit; and life insurance.

New construction is being done to the building which previously housed the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History in downtown Ann Arbor. The building will no longer serve as a museum.

College is a great option for many individuals; however, student loan debt is a notorious consequence. Instead, some individuals opt for trade school and on-the-job training.

Palmer says, “College wasn’t for me. I like this trade and I plan to make a career out of it.”

Some opt to skip the student loans; instead, attend 12 weeks of pre-job training at one of several training centers. There is no out-of-pocket cost for tools during training; a stipend is paid for each day of training. If you reside more than 70 miles from the Lansing training center, housing is provided during pre-job training. Post training, students receive job placement services.

BAC Local 2 represents all facets of the masonry sciences including brick and block; stone; cement; plaster; pointing/cleaning/caulking (restoration and preservation), refractory, and tile, marble, or terrazzo. BAC Local 2 was founded in 1897 and represents the most highly skilled trowel trades craftworkers in Michigan. The International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers is the oldest continuous union in North America.

“[Masonry] is a good career path – you make pretty good money and the benefits are pretty good, too,” says Palmer.

To obtain more information, call Local 2’s Warren office at 586-754-0888 or the Lansing office at 517-886-9781.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *