In 11 states, military veterans who want to enter a union construction apprenticeship program through the Helmets to Hardhats recruitment plan now get to move to the front of the applicant line. And more states are expected shortly.
Eleven governors have signed agreements with H2H officials granting "direct entry" for those applicants into union apprentice programs that have an opening and where a "match" is made. So far, Indiana, Ohio, Connecticut, West Virginia, Illinois, Washington, Nebraska, Rhode Island, Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont have signed on. Virginia Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine (D) is expected to sign a similar agreement on Aug. 29 and Missouri Gov. Matt Blount (R) is slated to sign on Aug. 30. Pacts in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Maine also are expected shortly.
H2H, was founded in 2003 by the AFL-CIOs Building and Construction Trades Dept.s 15 unions and nine employer associations. The Web-based program registers would-be apprentices and jobs at www.helmetstohardhats.org.
When an electronic match is made, a representative from a union or employer contacts the candidate to determine if the match has a future. Since its inception, H2H has registered more than 82,000 former military members on its Website and referred nearly 24,000 vets for employment or apprentice opportunities (ENR 4/4 p. 32). The program does not track apprentices after placement.
At its Aug. 9-10 convention, BCTD renewed its commitment to the program in a resolution urging affiliates to include contract language supporting H2H in collective bargaining agreements as soon as practicable.
H2H Executive Director Matthew P. Caulfield says a recruiter will be hired to oversee a planned expansion this fall in white-collar job placements in engineering and construction management. It has gone slowly, but doors are beginning to open, says Caulfield. At least two large contractors have expressed interest.
Program officials also are optimistic they soon will be placing disabled vets in certain construction posts. H2H has provided a Web portal for Dept. of Veterans Affairs officials to track candidates they send for placement. H2H and BCTD will sponsor a dinner Sept. 23 in Washington, D.C., for service members injured in Iraq and Afghanistan who are recuperating at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. H2H hopes to interest some of them in its program.