So you wanna be an ironworker? Best place to start is to know one. Especially good is to be
related to one. In fact, chances are if you're related to one, you'll probably end up one
whether you like it or not.
The ironworker's apprenticeship is a three year program in which you get trained on the job and
in the school, and paid a percentage of journeyman's wages. To sign up, call your local
ironworker's union (sometimes found under UNIONS or LABOR ORGANIZATIONS in the
yellow pages) and ask if they are accepting applications. You will need an id. and either a
high school diploma or a GED. If work is good, like it is in San Francisco, it's just a matter
of finding a company that will sponsor you, and showing up when you ought.
When looking for a sponsor, if you don't know where to begin, try construction sites. Simple,
eh? Go on the job with a hard hat and work boots and ask around for a foreman or a
supervisor. See what kind of work they do, and how the guys are.
If you're a little uncertain about what you're doing, often, if you're a woman or minority, there
are affirmative action groups willing to help you out. I'm not saying that affirmative action
groups are good things, but they will help you get your foot in the door. (I had an
organization helping me. They asked me if I wouldn't rather be a plumber or a carpenter
because Ironworkers are *ssholes.)
If you already have some experience and you want to skip the apprenticeship bit, it's possible to
work on permit. You will have missed out on a lot of training and people will gripe about
you a lot. If you prove yourself over time, though, they'll shut up. If not, good luck when
work gets slow.
Here are helpful contacts for the San Francisco/ San Jose/ Bay Area (excluding Oakland and
East Bay which has it's own local, 378):
Ironworkers Local 377
San Francisco, CA
Ironworker's Apprenticeship Local 377
Santa Clara, CA
and ask for Harold Evans (apprenticeship coordinator). Tell him you called him via my web
page. And ask him where the hell his web page is.
Women and minorities are encouraged to apply. Harold is actually very helpful. He's helped to establish a buddy system for those whose English is a little on the rusty side. There are also references for those who need help reading. Never hurts to ask.
or if standing around all day in a shop appeals to you,
Jim Hood, apprenticeship coordinator.
(I think that's right)