Covid has changed schooling across our council drastically over the course of the last year. In March of 2020 we shut down classes just like everyone else. In order to restart classes, we wrote a Covid plan that had to be approved by Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) here in Milwaukee. Once they approved our plan, I knew we would be safe to reopen all of our training centers, so we did. We also started doing our own safety and training classes again at that point. For those classes, we are trying to limit the numbers in each class to around 10 if possible. We spread tables out, only allowed 1 person per desk, sprayed and wiped down the tables and chairs after every class, had hand sanitizer available, basically did everything possible to avoid the possibility of someone catching the virus in our training centers. I know I'm setting myself up for failure on this one but to this point, we have not had a single member who reported that they contracted Covid from any of our buildings.
It was hard to run Apprenticeship meetings when the shutdown first happened because the Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards would not allow us to conduct any meetings on Zoom because of security concerns. They have since changed their minds and allowed Zoom meetings so by the end of 2020, we could conduct business. It appears that the BAS likes Zoom more than they thought they would, and my guess is that we will be doing meetings virtually even after all the Covid precautions are said and done.
There is a lot of stuff going on with the Glaziers. There is a new certification available to all glaziers called Architectural Glass and Metal Technician (AGMT). It is like the Coating Application Specialist (CAS) certification currently available to the Industrial Painters, and it should help separate us more from the non-union. The certification is made up of a written test and a hands-on test and as of this writing, I am happy to tell you that we have had 40 Glaziers take the written test and all 40 have passed it. The hands-on testing will take place in late May. If you are a Glazier and are interested in the next round of testing later this year, please contact either Brian Baumgartner or the training office.
After the Glaziers completed schooling in January, the training office sent out a letter to MATC notifying them that as of December 31, 2021, the Glaziers will no longer be affiliated with MATC. This means that as of that date, our apprentices will no longer have schooling through MATC. There are many reasons for this decision. First, we currently provide all the training space, the curriculum, and instructors anyway. Another reason is that scheduling the classes with MATC is always difficult because the training takes place during their winter break. Finally, and probably most important to the apprentices, they won't have to pay MATC for school, which for the Glaziers is over $600 a year. Now that MATC has been notified, the Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards is going to need to come in and scrutinize our training center, records, etc to make sure the program can sustain itself away from the Technical College System. I don't expect any issues and we should get approval at some point this summer. If this goes as planned, we are planning on doing the same thing with the Milwaukee Painters next year.
The Council on Occupational Education (COE) accreditation process is moving slow, but it is moving forward. We have made a lot of strides this last year getting things together. There are still a few things that need to be put in place before we can apply but those have been set in motion and we will hopefully be able to submit our first application later this year or early next year.