Tribal/union initiative gets members on long-term career paths

Staff reports
8/31/10

WIND RIVER, Wyo. – The Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapahoe Tribes recently announced that 50 Native trainees from the Wind River and other reservations have gone through the Permanent Jobs Creation Initiative, and that 47 have received jobs with a union contractor providing a career path to a better future for them and their families. The 94 percent success rate for the reservation-based training program – with many of the union apprentice level members former welfare recipients – is a unique blend of entities committed to spurring economic and human development on the reservation.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for our people,” said Ivan Posey, chairman of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe. “We do quite a bit of construction, but those dollars flow away from the reservation, we want to capture them and make them work for us, so we need our members to be trained and skilled.”

Implemented six months ago with funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (www.recovery.gov), the Permanent Jobs Creation Initiative has created a unique cooperative agreement between the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapahoe Tribes; the Native American Construction Training Management, Inc., in Wheat Ridge, Colo.; All-State Fire Protection, in Commerce City, Colo.; and Road Local 669 Sprinkler Fitters of the United Association Plumber, Fitters, Welders and HVAC Service Techs, in Baltimore, Md.; and the U.S. Department of the Interiors’, Office of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs.

It’s a joint effort among diverse entities to spur economic development and to alleviate unemployment, poverty and a sense of no future destroying our people by leveraging the tremendous potency of the construction industry.

“This is a very unique situation in that we have the total commitment from key players to make this happen,” said Kevin Buckles, NACTM president. “I think it’s the first time this has ever happened in Indian country.”

NACTM is a Native company that provides training and support for trainees during and after their training is completed.

“It’s the right thing to do and we want to do it right by the tribes, by the new Native sprinks and the Union,” said John Bodine, business manager of Road Local 669 Sprinkler Fitters of the United Association Plumber, Fitters, Welders and HVAC Service Techs. Road Local 669 was the first union to sign the agreement with NACTM, which pledges to respect and honor the sovereign jurisdiction of the tribes and provides union sanction for the imitative.

Although, Sprinkler Fitters were the first, it’s the tribes’ intention to work with all the building and trade unions and other union contractors because they can provide a system that is conducive to our tribal culture and needs of our members.

Each trainee receives 300 hours of union based training on the reservation, a combination of classroom instruction and on-the-job training under the close supervision of Native union journeymen. Using funds from the Department of the Interior to buy supplies and material, their efforts have resulted in the installation of fire protection systems for the Senior Citizen Center, the Head Start building and a tribal daycare as well as a newly built IT building that will house the tribes’ important assets.

It is estimated that in the future, the construction industry on reservations across America alone represents a $450 billion bonanza for those tribes capable of capturing the dollars and recycling them throughout their communities will see their economies grow like a wildfire.

“In the past, when construction jobs came to our reservations we had the numbers but they had no skills so jobs went to others,” said John Wadda, 477 Employment and Training office, Eastern Shoshone Tribe. “We plan to have a trained workforce ready, able and willing to meet those needs this is a good step forward.”

The tribe is presently working with the Department of the Interior to secure further funding to complete additional construction projects on the reservation.

Further information on the Permanent Job Creation Initiative can be found at www.nactm.com.

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