All Aboard for a Union Apprenticeship Bus Tour

Everywhere you look, union apprenticeships and careers in the trades are being applauded. Earlier this year, LeDaya Epps, a graduate of a Laborer’s apprenticeship was invited as a special guest to the State of the Union. President Obama recognized her and called for more paid apprenticeships and “opportunities that give workers the chance to earn higher-paying jobs, even if they don’t have a higher education.” Governor Brown also expressed similar sentiments during the groundbreaking ceremony for California’s High Speed rail, extoling how vital it is to strengthen our infrastructure through skilled workers in the trades. He said, “You've got to get these building trades men and women doing stuff. That's what makes America — what makes the world — go 'round.”

Keeping the momentum going, the Napa and Solano Counties Central Labor Council hosted a Bus Tour of Union Apprenticeship training sites available in the region.  It was a massive success. Nearly 100 community allies, school board officials, labor activists, and workforce and economic development advocates hopped on Sol Trans buses and toured 6 state of the art training facilities that host trades apprenticeships in the region. The tour started at the Sheet Metal Workers Local 104 Training Center in Fairfield, and then featured stops at a Carpenters Training Center in Fairfield, an Electricians’ Training Center at IBEW Local 180, a Plumbers and Steamfitters Training Center at UA Local 343 in Vallejo, the University of Iron at for training Ironworkers in Benicia, and lastly a Heat and Frost Insulators Training Center in Benicia. 

The day-long bus tour gave attendees the chance to see first-hand where union apprentices train and learn about the requirements to begin in each program. And even more importantly, we heard about how union apprenticeships create a solid path to careers that provide good benefits and a living wage. Furthermore- all of the union apprenticeships pay program participants as they are trained. Each training center tour was hosted by a guide who had completed the apprenticeship and had gone on to continue a career path in that particular trade. The overarching theme of the day was simple: union apprenticeships are extraordinarily beneficial to our communities. These programs pay apprentices while they train and provide quality skill building that can be applied to a career path that promises a living wage and strong benefits.

It was clear from the tour guides that anyone can join an apprenticeship if they are able and willing to apply themselves to a career in the trades. It’s the kind of career path that is often forgotten as many high school graduates eye a college education as the only plausible next step. While each union apprenticeship program is unique its own right, for many a high school diploma or a GED is the requirement to sign up for to train.  

It was great to see- I highly encourage attending next year.

Quote of the Day: 

“Our paid apprenticeships provide a solid path to the middle class…this is something that you can't find outside of organized labor”

– Brian Colombo, Ironworkers Apprenticeship Coordinator

For more information on the union apprenticeship programs featured on the tour, you can visit their websites here:


Sheet Metal Workers Local 104 Training Center in Fairfield

Carpenters Training Center in Fairfield

Electricians’ Training Center at IBEW Local 180

Plumbers and Steamfitters Training Center at UA Local 343 in Vallejo

University of Iron at for training Ironworkers in Benicia

Heat and Frost Insulators Training Center in Benicia


You can also read more about union apprenticeships available in California by visiting California Apprenticeships Coordinators Association.