Erick Garay at his office.
New York, NY – “One of my goals is to get everybody together; a lot of people think the unions are hard to get into,” Ironworkers Local 197 Apprentice Erick Garay tells LaborPress. “But I want people to realize — I’m Hispanic. I’m 36-years-old, and I made it — you can, too.”
The Bronx father of three — one of LaborPress’ Outstanding Apprentices of the Year recently honored at the District Council of Carpenters HQ at 395 Hudson Street, is part of a group of minority workers that constitute roughly 43-percent of all those currently participating in apprenticeship programs across the state. Unions now account for 36-percent of the 752 training programs operating statewide, the rest are non-union.
“It’s not just for some people — it could be for a lot of people, Garay says. “We’re fighting for people to join us. To be part of us, because if you’re part of us, nobody’s going to be able to stop us.”
Leah Rambo, Sheet Metal Workers Local 28 Training Director, bought a house during the final year of her Union Apprenticeship — something almost unheard of at the time for a 24-year-old woman of color without a college degree.
“I owe it to my Union training,” Rambo says. “The training a labor union provides extends further than just getting the job done. We are focused on building and reinvesting in the same communities we have served for over 100 years. Safety is our priority; we consistently have fewer accidents on the job, dispose of materials according to the latest regulations, and protect pedestrians from falling debris. Our members are as diverse as the city itself. The wages and benefits we receive help to close racial, ethnic and gender wage gaps.”
Read the full story on LaborPress.org