The COVID-19 pandemic has forced change for many of us this last year. The Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) is dedicated to keeping its members working and continue to safely train under these challenging new circumstances.
Laborers in western Missouri and Kansas have moved training classes out of the classroom and online, where possible. Local health restrictions limiting the number of people who can gather together have forced leaders at the Belton Laborers Training Center and the Greater Kansas City Laborers Training Center (GKC) to come up with
new options to give apprentices and journeypersons the training they need, without increasing the risk of infection.
“We now offer about 120 classes online to our members,” said Belton Training Director Mike White. “I think COVID really forced us to do that, and now that we’re there, it is much more efficient,” White says the move to more online instruction is meeting the needs of contractors, who had asked for more leadership training for the LiUNA members they employ. The online courses include more than 30 classes focused on leadership.
Most of the online training will benefit journeyperson laborers – union members who have two or more years of experience working in the field, or who have graduated from the apprentice training program. Some online training will be available for laborers enrolled in the apprenticeship programs.
“Our most critical training is hands-on, which can’t be achieved through online instruction,” said Donald Slack, who is the director of the Greater Kansas City Laborers’ Training Center. “We will do some teaching online, but apprentices will still need to complete the hands-on training at one of the centers within two weeks of taking their online courses.”
More than 250 apprentices are currently enrolled and taking instruction at GKC in Kansas City, Kansas, Belton, Missouri, and satellite locations in western Missouri and Kansas. LiUNA members are recognized as the safest, best-trained, and most skilled laborers in the construction industry. They are represented by Local 264 in Kansas City; Local 663, which has offices in Kansas City, Springfield, and Joplin; Local 579 in St. Joseph and Local 1290 throughout the state of Kansas. LiUNA’s training program is funded by contributions from signatory contractors as negotiated in the collective bargaining agreements.
LiUNA is one of the most progressive and strongest unions in the country. With more than 500,000 members, LiUNA is the eighth-largest labor organization in America, representing a skilled and diverse workforce.