Spend just 15 minutes talking with Mathew Mcleod at the end of his Alberta Carpenters Training Centre teaching day and you walk away wondering how it is you wasted so much of your youth.
At just 29, he’s dual-ticketed, Blue-sealed (yes, Blue…more about that shortly) and so good at his trades that he’s been fingered for a part-time ACTC gig teaching pre-employment carpentry, industrial technical training and some TradeWinds classes.
He’s also serious about the important things in life, like paying off his house as soon as possible so he and his future wife can concentrate on a family and investing for their future.
And in the back of his mind, he’s got dreams of being in business for himself someday. That’s what the Alberta Apprenticeship Blue Seal is all about. It’s a Certificate in Business Competency that he took by correspondence while working full time in his hometown of Calgary.
Mathew moved to Alberta from Kamloops after high school, in search of work. After a few odd jobs, he realized he needed to hook up with a trade.
“I got a job with a non-union commercial carpentry contractor whose contracts often involved things like building automobile dealerships from the ground up. So I got lots of different experience, learning how buildings go together.
“Because my employer acted as a contract manager, I ended up working with all the sub trades, so I picked up a little bit of ISM, surveying, concrete foundations, and lots more,” he says.
In the beginning, he didn't think much about the subject of 'union'. Eventually, he sdays, he looked around the industry and learned a lot more about the UBC.
“Working non-union, in the lunchroom you’d be there with a dozen guys and they’d all be talking down the union. The thing I realized is that the conversation was always directed by the owner’s sons or nephews. They had a big stake in keeping you out of the union.
“When I realized the union had a lot more to offer, and I joined up, I instantly got full benefits and a good pension plan for the very first time, plus a $5 an hour raise!.
Since then, he’s worked for Ellis Don and Aecon among other employers, picking up valuable experience on big building and infrastructure projects
Dual ticket just the thing(s)
Mathew says he decided to become a dual-ticket member when he realized he’s make himself a whole lot more employable as a result.
“As a journeyman carpenter, if there was only scaffolding work available, I would have to accept second-year apprentice wages. That was like taking a $10 an hour pay cut. I figured no way! So now I have way more options.”
To Mathew, the union is far more than a job-finding mechanism.
“I’ve had an opportunity to meet and work with a lot of really fine men and women from all over Canada and the world, from all kinds of backgrounds.
“You spend more time on the job with them than you do with your own family, and it’s a team working environment, so you get to know them very personally.
“Lots of the people I work with have known each other for decades.
“They really take care of each other, and they take care of you.”
(Story posted May 2011)