When you’re tuning in to the President’s State of the Union address tonight, keep an eye out for LeDaya Epps. This inspirational mother of three and proud member of Labor's International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 300 spends her days working on a project to expand the light rail train line for LA Metro to the Los Angeles International Airport. It’s no wonder that Labor Department Secretary Tom Perez invited her to be a guest of the First Lady at tonight’s address.
Inviting Epps to the State of the Union helps to underscore the significance of training and apprenticeship programs for working families in our country. She credits LIUNA’s apprenticeship program with providing her skills needed to build a career in the construction industry and support her family:
“The skills training I received through my union has done more than teach me a trade. It’s renewed my life. It has been a lifeline to a career I am proud of and allowed me to provide for myself and my three children.“
Careers in construction are vital to our economy- not only do they help build roads, bridges, pipelines, and so much more; they also provide enough pay to support a family. Like Epps, thousands of hardworking people in California have been able to gain a career in construction after taking part in an apprenticeship program offered by a union.
LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan emphasized the importance of these programs:
“We are deeply proud of LeDaya and that a member of the Laborers’ International Union of North America has been chosen for this honor. It is a testament to the dedication and perseverance of LeDaya, to the positive difference LIUNA Local 300 makes in the lives of our members and their families, and to the significance and power of our training and apprenticeship programs.”
According to the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, (SBCTC) there are over 250 union-sponsored apprenticeship programs for every type of building and construction trade in California. Every year these programs invest on average $9,000 per student living and working in California.
Women like LeDaya Epps highlight the power of investing in training programs that create a path for people to earn a wage that supports their families while also helping to build and improve our state. This is a message worth a standing ovation tonight.
For more information on apprenticeship programs available for people looking to enter into a construction career, check out SBCTC's website.