Construction Careers Strengthened By Skills, Safety


For the past 35 years, Teamsters who are members of Locals 166, 986, 848, 87 and 186 have been relying on the expertise of trainers at the construction yard training facility to improve their on-the-job performance and assure their advancement to better paying jobs in the construction industry.

“We train approximately 2,500 members a year through our hazardous waste safety training programs and about 100 members in our Commercial Driver’s License program,” said Andy Nichols, training director for the Construction Teamsters Training and Upgrading Fund of Southern California. “Our locals depend on us to teach courses that prepare members for work in many parts of the construction industry and we have a great track record of licenses and safety goals that were achieved.”

The Fontana, Calif., facility is located on a nearly 3-acre plot just off a busy road near the main highway. Five trainers handle the CDL program while two trainers operate the hazardous waste safety program. There is plenty of room to maneuver 18-wheelers, forklifts, flatbeds and other equipment necessary in the industry.

The facility also boasts a huge, covered shop which houses an articulated dump truck, a bus and classrooms. The layout is simple, but adequate.

“We didn’t need a site with too many bells and whistles as this is a teaching facility,” Nichols said. “We also have access to the fairgrounds for the Los Angeles County fair and it’s 3.5 acres in size including hills and some rough terrain. Preparing our members for work in the construction field has to cover as many bases as we can since our building projects are not always sited on a flat space.”

Trainees Ralph Lopez, a member of Local 986, and Christopher Roberts, a member of Local 166, agreed that the CDL programs were beneficial.

“I’ve been a member for the past 11 years,” Roberts said. “I’m taking the CDL course in order to advance my career. Driving on the road is challenging, so we need to be prepared.”

“They are training us to become professional drivers,” Lopez said. “I’ve been a member of my local for the past 26 years, and I wanted to take this CDL course in order to get better job skills. When I heard about the training opportunity through my Local 986 representative, they described how the course would teach us about safety rules and really know the whole vehicle, which I was eager to do.”

In addition to the CDL course, the facility instructs members on water pull, water truck, rock truck, end dump, dump truck, fork lift training, load securement training and crane training.

The hazardous waste courses offered range from the 40-hour Hazwoper course to the 10-Hour OSHA construction course.

“We are particularly proud of the training that our local unions offer to members,” said Bubba Davis, Director of the Building Material and Construction Trade Division. “The Southern California facility has been able to help thousands of members learn new skills allowing them to apply, and be hired, for higher-paying positions in the industry. The building boom in California has no real end in sight and will keep skilled members, such as ours, employed for years to come.”