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November 22, 2014
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Welcome to the Apprenticeship page

for the BAC District Council of WI!

If you are interested in becoming part of our apprenticeship program or would simply like to learn more please contact the Business Agent for your Local within the State of Wisconsin. If you don't know which Local you should contact click on the State Locals tab in the menu on the left side of the webpage and search for the County in which you live. Then simply click on the Local at the top of the page for more information regarding who your Business Agent is and how to contact him.

You can also try this website,

For additional resource information, you may also access the following websites:   Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership
                            BIG STEP (Building Industry Group Skilled Trades Employment Program)     Women In Trades  Wisconsin Job Center

The “Other” Higher Education

When most of us think of postsecondary education, schools and universities come to mind. We may also think of technical colleges, or even online courses. It’s also no secret that obtaining an education isn’t cheap; most training and college courses cost hundreds of dollars per credit or more.

Here in Wisconsin, there’s an entire educational system unknown to many that’s cost-effective, trains its students extremely well for lifelong careers, and allows participants to work while they learn. This education is paid for by the workers in the profession. Not only are members paid while they learn and work, but they come away with skills for a lifetime and also have the opportunity for continuing education in their chosen field.

It almost sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? This educational system is organized, implemented and paid for completely by the building and construction trade unions.

The International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) in Wisconsin is one such organization that provides, among other benefits, two kinds of training. The first is apprenticeship training to individuals wishing to enter the brick and masonry trades. The apprenticeship system with the BAC is a four-year program recognized across the trades, and it includes a mix of classroom and on-the-job learning. Apprentices are earning while they learn, and their learning is highly structured.

In partnership with the International Masonry Institute (IMI), the BAC also provides ongoing safety and specialty classes free to members, who even receive a small bonus for attending. Classes offered include first aid, scaffold users training, fall protection, advanced blueprint reading, marble and stone slab veneer, grouting and reinforced masonry and fireplace construction, to name just a few. Many contractor employers stipulate their employees attend one or two classes like this a year, knowing the value continuing education brings to their workforce.

According to Mark Graf, Training Coordinator with the IMI, the industry is continually changing, with new technologies, materials, codes and products. “It’s an ongoing challenge for our members to stay completely current on all the new materials, products and techniques on the market,” says Graf. “We help them do this and therefore bring more value to customers.”

The BAC and IMI together also offer safety classes, which keep everyone safe on the job.

Graf’s program has grown 600 percent since he joined the BAC in 2001. Although approximately one-third of BAC’s 3,000 members are located in Southeast Wisconsin, attendance at classes was low. “When I started, we had about 160 members each year attend our classes,” he says. “I sought to grow the offerings and through word of mouth, we’ve really grown.”

Part of the success is thanks to a large training facility located at the BAC headquarters in New Berlin, Wisconsin. Graf and another full-time trainer offer training here, but training is also offered on location for members. “I call upon a few highly skilled members to teach classes in the field when needed,” says Graf. “Our members don’t always have to travel, which makes training very accessible to them.”

The benefits of this training become even more evident when you realize that nonunion trades people aren’t required to participate in apprenticeship or continuing education. A recent Daily Reporter story about a new masonry curriculum being offered by MATC cites a need for training in this area, particularly among nonunion bricklayers. Instructor Tom Pscheid is quoted as saying that most independent contractors don’t use the union (apprenticeship) program and would like their people to get more training - training that union bricklayers have.

To illustrate the biggest difference between union and nonunion training, Graf mentions that nonunion bricklayers may express interest in joining the union. “We welcome them,“ says Graf. “The first step is I put them through a short evaluation. There is a written test first followed by a skills test, in which I have applicants build something for me.”

In the skills evaluation portion, Graf often notices that nonunion bricklayers, even those who may have years of experience, but have skills below what an average apprentice would start with.

“It simply shows that there isn’t an easy way for someone in this industry to obtain top-notch skills without proper training,” says Graf.

Promoting the trade among high school students is important, because early decisions about curriculum can weigh heavily upon later opportunities. Graf helps high school and college students learn about bricklaying, masonry, and what the various job roles entail in the trade, as well as what training is required. Graf has been invited to teach a segment at Germantown high school.

He also helps students in architecture and engineering better understand the trade, which will help them one day on the job and ultimately result in better projects. “We teach a class about once a year to students in architecture and engineering at UW-Stout, UW-Milwaukee, MSOE and Marquette University,” says Graf. “It aids their project designs and helps them understand the level of specification our journeymen need.”

Graf says sending well-trained workers into the job market enhances the relationship with contractors and the BAC and paves the way for future apprentices. “The better trained we are,” says Graf, “the better contractors realize the value our members bring to the job site.”

For more information about Apprenticeship and the Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers Union of Wisconsin please call (262) 827-1504.

BAC of WI members include these job titles:

·       Bricklayer

·       Stone mason

·       Marble mason

·       Pointer Cleaner Caulker

·       Precast Erector

·       Plasterer

·       Cement mason

·       Terrazzo

·       Tile setter

Local 8 Apprentices Nicholas Nimmer and Mike Pogorzelski work on arches

Page Last Updated: Feb 15, 2013 (07:38:22)
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