30 Apprentices Graduate; Heading to MOW and Better Careers

<Apprentices Graduate Summer 2019

At 38 years of age, Sakina Brown, a NYC Transit Cleaner (scroll through the photos -- she's in blue shirt and white pants with her two daughters), went back to school. She spent six months learning carpentry, masonry, plumbing and electrical in the industrial classrooms and tool-laden shops of The Apex Technical School in Long Island City, Queens. At night, Brown, a single mother of two daughters, studied take-home materials, including building codes, and prepared for tests on both theory and application.

It all paid off on Monday, Aug. 26, when Brown – in front of her two girls, her mother, sister and two nieces – graduated along with 29 other transit workers. They are now Transit Structure Apprentices - and solidly on new career paths as tradesmen and tradeswomen. “I’m proud of myself,” Brown said. “It’s a big accomplishment, and I’m grateful. Because the union gave me this opportunity, it will be so much easier for me to get a promotion and better pay.”

Part of the training included building two small structures – one brick and one wood framed – with fully functioning electrical systems and plumbing.  “It was tough,” graduate Craig Hodge, 40, a former CTA, said. “When everyone got here they all probably thought it was going to be a cakewalk but it was challenging. We had to learn so much in a short amount of time.” For the next three years, Brown and the other graduates of the program, which is administered by the TWU Local 100/NYCT Training & Upgrading Fund, will work side-by side with Transit carpenters, masons, electricians and plumbers. The next step will be elevation into Maintainer titles.

“Congratulations,” Local 100 President Tony Utano told the graduates at a ceremony at the Queensboro Plaza school. “Today, a trade is like gold. They don’t have enough people in the trades in the city, state and country. Everbody learns computers, but they don’t know how to fix and build things.” Local 100 Secretary-Treasurer Earl Phillips, Administrative Vice President Nelson Rivera and Car Equipment Vice President Shirley Martin also were on hand to congratulate the grads. “You should very proud of yourselves,” Rivera said. “You made a big accomplishment. Every one of you.” He urged the group to learn from the veterans in the field, and to share their knowledge with the union brothers and sisters that come up behind them.

TWU Local 100 secured NYC Transit funding for the program in contract negotiations. This was the third transit class to graduate from Apex since the trades program was revived three years ago, TUF Director Charles Jenkins said.