Tuesday, June 23, 2009


So you want to be a credible voice for your local? Try not speaking from your twisted, opinionated and not educated head.

I am in the bus at work (I work at a refinery, we have the pleasure of squeezing into a yellow school bus to and from the work area to the lunch area.) when I hear this pipe-fitter going off on Orin Hatch. Politics... sketchy subject at work anyway, so I wasn't even going to try and go there, but this guy did. I listened and observed, but wasn't ready to start a fight!... continuing on; This guy said the only thing Orin Hatch did in the last 10 years is help get some prisoner out of jail. As you can see, I didn't get the details. Why, you ask? Good question. its because the fastest way to loose credibility on the job or in a conversation is to say, "the only good thing someone did in 10 years is _____." How does one respond to that? I don't care who you're talking about, whether a republican or democrat, black or white, man or woman, its just ignorant.

A few weeks back a journeyman close to retirement is going off on the 80's and how tough times were and if he had to do it over again, etc, etc. You know the story! Well a 1st year apprentice was in his presence and I decided to join into the discussion (not me?!LOL). I ask this guy to tell me more about the 80's and so he recounts the story he's telling the apprentice about wages and unemployment and how everyone in the local was out of work. "Everyone?" I ask. He reply's, "We had 50% unemployment rate." He continues to rant and rave about the trade and doing something else and struggling for over 2 years without work. I sympathized with this brother, but wanted to reassure our young apprentice to not sweat over those times. That if we just continued to work hard and keep our focus on being positive that he'd have a good chance at staying employed. I mentioned how my dad worked the whole time and this old-timer went off on me saying that my dad couldnt have... I said, "Didn't you just say that 50% were employed. My dad was in that half."

Don't be pessimistic either. You loose credibility if you start stretching the truth too. YOU were unemployed and so were many others, but that doesn't mean everyone was. The strong survive. Instead of fearing a recession or layoff, sharpen your skills, build relationships, remember that knowledge is power. At the end of the day, they'll pick the stronger hand to keep around.

And to answer a question the Journeyman asked, "No, my father didn't become rich because he was employed in the 80's.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Application Process

I was sitting there, reading this 60 page packet that describes the duty of the union and the duty of its members. It then described the expectations and role of an apprentice in the local union. It was a lot of reading, but I've read books before, I've read technical manuals and I'm a high school graduate and have attended some college. Well that describes my ability to read. Then there's the guy who just walked by me. He approaches the counter and asks for an application. Prior to filling out your application you have to read the above mentioned packet. The receptionist explains this to him and he gladly takes the packet and sits down and begins thumbing through it. He walks back up to the receptionist and asks what type of ID you have to have to work. As it turns out his name is one thing, and his birth certificate is something else. However, he's the same guy... he "Promise's!" Yeah right! Take a hike dude, and PS, if you can't speak fluent English and aren't legal, I'm sure you can't join a federal union! No offense to foreigners, but quite frankly, someone needs to do their homework before applying!

I digressed from the title of this post... The application process. Oh yes, about that!

After calling the local union and learning that I needed to show up in person to apply, I drove down and found that I had a lot of reading to do. Fortunately, I was already aware of what it took to become an electrician so I did as I was told, signed away and paid the application fee. I was told that in a few weeks I would receive a letter informing me of a test date in which I would take an aptitude test. In the meantime I was to study up on my algebra and reading comprehension skills!

Two weeks pass by and I am informed of a test date only weeks away. I show up to test. It is a pass or fail test, no grade or percentage. Once I completed the test I moved onto an interview process and finally was selected to join.

A few pointers for the applicants: Take the test seriously. I know you're going to hear how easy it is, but if you don't take the time to study algebra and refresh your reading comprehension. You may find yourself failing that "easy" test. As I recall, you have to know fractions, using tables, and simplifying complex algebraic questions for the math part. If you were like me, and haven't been in school for years, then a refresher is in order. I found watching the Comcast On Demand Algebra math programs hit the spot. When reading, the important thing I found was just paying attention to the material. All the answers are in the material, you just have to understand what they're asking for. My advice is finding study materials on anything. Read the material and go the question section and practice searching for answers.

These things worked for me... To prove it, I was told I passed as one of the highest scores in my group. No bragging here, as everyone is on the same playing field, pass or fail, but just so you know. I passed my first time through.

Forward, Introduction and/or disclaimer

Hello, my name is Sam (ficticious name). I've been considering a blog for some time but have lacked substance I felt suitable for the world to see. Recently I joined a local union as an apprentice and thought the subject matter was fitting for the web and something to share, and yet remain somewhat annonymous.

Before introduction my journey I thought it important that I should make a disclaimer. So the following should be treated as such:

All views and subject matter are true to the best of my knowledge. Names and places will be occassionally changed to protect the identity of the author (me) and those around me. This blog is to be treated as memoirs and discussions surrounding my future profession and not that of my personal life. However, in the process of writing I should expect to share personal information and reflect on goals and dreams that may be afforded to me by working, but again, this blog is about the journey to becoming a Journeyman and is treated as such.

And with all of that being said... Lets begin from the beginning!

This journey is dedicated to all who believed in me. To my son, whom I will continue to live for and will always do my best to provide for. And to my beautiful wife who always believed in me and understood me like no one else. Finally to God, who has afforded me the blessing of being a father and husband.