February 13, 2018 Richard Rezler
An international labor union representing trained plasterers and cement masons has agreed to hold its instructor training program on the Washtenaw Community College campus with the first of the annual sessions to be held June 25-29, 2018.
The Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ International Association (OPCMIA) will bring as many as 100 affiliated instructors to the Ann Arbor area for a new Instructor Training Program and will establish WCC as its ITP headquarters for continuous instructor development.
OPCMIA joins the United Association Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders and Service Techs (UA) and the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers as international labor unions that call WCC home for their summer instructor training programs. Those two organizations combine to draw more than 3,000 people to the area annually.
“We’re excited to welcome OPCMIA to campus and look forward to partnering with them to provide world-class training to their instructors,” said WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca.
The training sessions will take place primarily in the college’s Great Lakes Regional Training Center, which features state-of-the-art classrooms, demonstration labs and an auditorium.
OPCMIA leadership became aware of WCC when they attended the North American Building Trades Union’s apprenticeship conference the college hosted in 2016. Vice President Bill Rogers said that is when they learned about WCC’s resources and its partnerships with the United Association and Ironworkers.
After bringing training leaders from across the country to WCC in June 2017 for a preview of how a training partnership could work, Rogers said the group voted unanimously to initiate the partnership.
Rogers also credited the Washtenaw County community as being part of the allure to bringing its training program to WCC.
“In addition to the services provided by WCC, the folks at the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau provided us with a host of logistical assistance to set up our events and genuinely made us feel welcomed,” Rogers said. “The community really seems to have embraced the construction union training programs as their welcomed guests.”
Mary Kerr, President & CEO of the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau said the group is thrilled to welcome the OPCMIA to Washtenaw County.
“It is an honor to continue the tradition of hosting prestigious national instructor training programs for national labor unions,” Kerr said. “We look forward to partnering with Washtenaw Community College, and helping the training program attendees to see the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti area as a second home during their time with us!”
OPCMIA previously held training at the National Labor College, a training center established by the AFL-CIO for all union members in Silver Spring, Maryland. That institution closed in 2014.
“When the National Labor College closed, we began searching for a new academic partner and WCC seems like the perfect choice,” Rogers said. “The program we are initiating with WCC is a significant expansion upon what we have done before, and is based heavily on the successful UA program.”
OPCMIA established a licensing agreement to adapt and use the same series of train-the-trainer professional instruction courses that representatives from WCC and the University of Michigan helped the UA to create for its training program.
Founded in 1864, OPCMIA is the nation’s oldest building trades union. Rogers said providing relevant and professional instruction to its members will help the organization “remain as viable to the future of the construction industry as we have been foundational to its past success.”
For more information about the Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ International Association, visit opcmia.org.
This story also appeared in On The Record.