National Training Center Opens
Journal: Issue 4 - 2007
This fall, BAC members will celebrate a major milestone in the Union’s illustrious history – the opening of the new BAC/IMI National Training Center.
Conveniently located between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, the 25-acre campus, which officially opens in September, fulfills two long-held BAC goals: providing more services for BAC members and Locals, and enhancing the organized masonry industry’s advantage over competing materials and trades, including the non-union sector.
“This facility gives us a world-class training campus,” says BAC President and IMI Co-Chair John J. Flynn, “that will strengthen masonry’s position in the marketplace. It really is BAC University.”
For individual members, like Art Feeser of Local 1 Maryland/Virginia/DC who was a foreman during the center’s construction, more training and educational options translate into expanded work opportunities. “The more you know, the more you’re worth,” he said.
All BAC crafts will be taught at the center, and every level of training will be available to BAC members at each stage of their careers, from pre-job apprentices to foremen and even contractors, with safety training a constant in all classes. “The center will provide state-of-the-art instruction, curriculum and materials,” says IMI President Joan Calambokidis. “That gives BAC Locals the best of both worlds, by keeping them up on the latest programs, and offering ones that won’t stretch their training resources too far. It is an exciting chapter in BAC history.”
All BAC crafts are represented in the buildings’ design so that visitors can experience the full portfolio just by walking around and looking at the buildings and the classrooms inside.
The masonry materials were left as exposed as possible, to “celebrate” their inherent strength and beauty, says architect Stanley Tigerman, FAIA, of Tigerman-McCurry Architects in Chicago. Other materials like plumbing and lighting were also left uncovered. “It shows how a building is made,” says Tigerman. “And it’s all done the best way.”
The campus itself dramatizes BAC’s commitment to investing in construction’s future, notes President Flynn. “Instead of talking about a workforce crisis, we are taking action by ensuring that current members have access to the best training. We’re building the next generation of our Union.”
BAC’s commitment is also evident through the numerous certification programs available at the new center, including the annual Instructor Certification Program (ICP) held each fall, Supervisor Certification Program (SCP) courses for foremen and supervisors, and testing for specific materials and applications, such as concrete, autoclaved aerated concrete, JAHN restoration materials, and grouting. Another plus is the full menu of safety and health training available to members and instructors such as courses on scaffolding and hazard communication, as well as OSHA courses.
The campus also provides the perfect venue for Contractor College, where signatory contractors can improve their skills and keep on top of industry trends.
Consolidating the wide range of BAC and IMI activities in one place will also streamline and maximize resources to best ensure that they are used for the overall goal of expanding work opportunities for BAC members.
Organizing and hosting high profile events like the International Apprentice Contest and Masonry Camp for apprentices and young architects brings BAC’s leadership role into sharper public focus, as do ongoing activities such as curriculum and standards development, and new product research and testing.
On the hot topic of sustainability, for example, the campus will serve as both a laboratory and role model. It is in the process of obtaining certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, which oversees the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Green Building Rating System™.
Members Are Already Lining Up
At the end of the day, though, it is the day-to-day training at the new center that will make the difference. “Training is the key to a strong BAC,” says President Flynn.
No one is more aware of that than some of the BAC members who helped turn the vision into reality, and now look forward to returning to the site to enhance their careers.
“I am ready to start,” said PCC apprentice Nick Cicero of Local 5 Pennsylvania. Bricklayer Carlos Castellanos of Local 1 Maryland/Virginia/DC feels the same way. “It’s nice to learn. That way, you never run out of work,” he said.
But perhaps Local 1 member, foreman and IMI pre-job graduate Rob Denford said it best: “It will be here for a long time. It is the Union.”