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Hundreds Line Up For Steamfitters Jobs

Applicants for union position (Photo: QueensPost)

March 12, 2013 By Bill Parry

More than a thousand people camped outside the Steamfitters Industry Training Center in Long Island City yesterday in search of 500 openings in the union’s apprenticeship program.

Job seekers came from all over the tri-state area, and as far away as Texas, to line up and apply for positions. Many have waited since Friday.

Several knew little about the trade–which involves maintaining, repairing and assembling pipe and piping systems—but were in need of a secure job.

At one point Monday morning, the line stretched more than four blocks, as the applicants sought the coveted positions that would provide them with a five year training program that starts at $24 an hour. A fully licensed steamfitter can command a six figure salary.

A Local 638 Union official shouted instructions to the crowd from the front of the Steamfitters Industry Training Center at 48-03 32nd Place. He made one thing clear: The only guarantee was an application upon entering the building. He could not guarantee a position or anything else.

The union expects to hand out 5,000 applications by the end of the week. The 500 jobs will not all be offered all at once but will awarded over a 3-year-period. Therefore most applicants will be waiting sometime before they hear if they are successful.

Job applicant Chris Weinheimer of Centereach, NY, joined the line at 9 am. “I’ve been looking for a decent union job for several years now,” Weinheimer said. “I’ve tried laborers and ironworkers — here’s hoping the 3rd try’s the charm.”

Weinheimer works in the restaurant industry, but he is hoping for the security of a union job.

A diverse group of jobseekers, including two men from Poughkeepsie, three 17-year olds from Rockaway, a man from Commack and another from Central New Jersey waited all day to apply.

Meanwhile, Oswald Thomas of East New York, Brooklyn, who was standing in line, said: “This is ridiculous: I’ve gone twenty feet in three hours.”

Many applicants spoke of relatives in the Steamfitters Union. In the past that alone would have qualified most for entry into the apprenticeship program, but in 2008 the Department of Labor changed the rules in the interest of fairness.

“Five years ago you were born into it,” said Chris McGowan of Stroudsburg, Penn., adding, “that the Feds then changed everything.” McGowan said that five generations of his family were all steamfitters in Local 638:  “Now I have to stand in line like everyone else which is a good thing, but it sucks at the same time.”

email the author: news@queenspost.com

21 Comments

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John Dolan

Good info; Best wishes to all seeking well paying jobs, Fairness too! You Built This City….

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Jimmy boy

You made 201k this year so you claim what about in 5 years what will you make I made 60 k last year working for doc thats fine 20 and out you steamfitters work until your 65 and with the toll it takes on your body you’ll be in a wheelchair before you retire….city jobs kids

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Fitter638

To former fitter and Jimmy boy I’m now in 16 years and guess what I made 201 thousand this year last time I was layed off was 2007 and it was for 1 week so if you aren’t working alot it’s because you suck if you work hard and make a name you will always have a job especially in fire sprinkler life safety equals the law in every building

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former 638 fitter

if you get in and do 20 years you will get 7 to 10 good years of work unless you get pick up by a company that will keep you from the begining witch is very rare

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mac mccrossss

same with you common man, you have no clue what you are talking about i am 2 generation. depends on the job. my father working 25+ years never sat a day and did not get paid. same will be for me

FIRE SPRINKLER… B guy.. repairs and testing… not selling cell phone accessories. nah i dont need that clip or case…
you dont fix this with this right now on overtime,double time or double time an a half then people could and will die or your entire sky scraper will be destroyed. so sign here please 🙂 you could not be more wrong in your vague assessment.

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Jimmy boy

You can never get rich working for this union to way lay offs not worth it and the pension sucks

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mac mccrossss

you have no clue what you are talking about i am 2 generation. depends on the job. my father working 25+ years never sat a day and did not get paid. same will be for me

FIRE SPRINKLER… B guy.. repairs and testing… not selling cell phone accessories. nah i dont need that clip or case…
you dont fix this with this right now on overtime,double time or double time an a half then people could and will die or your entire sky scraper will be destroyed. so sign here please 🙂 you could not be more wrong in your vague assessment.

Reply
justin

what fire sprinkler company do you work for im 22 and been working doing fire sprinklers since i was 18 now running jobs just looking to be in the union

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spark

Did the line thing so many times with not only the fitters but also other trades to no avail. But thank god with patience I landed a even better career with more money and better pension with the LIRR. Good luck to the applicants and I mean that literally.

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Fitter638

I’ve been a 638 steamfitter for 13 years and its fine that the department of labor wants people to have a fair chance but the reality of it is its a dangerous job and takes a certain Breed of people to do this job and from what I’ve witnessed most people standing online have no idea what the job involves this is a heavy construction trade not your standard 9 to 5. People that have steamfitters in there family and are applying atleast have a better understanding of what they are getting into. Personally if people knew how tough the job really is I bet they would get off the line and make room for the people who really want it and know what they are getting themselfs into. 60 year old ladys should not be waiting online people that can’t work in harsh weather conditions shouldn’t be waiting online and people that aren’t willing to do hard
physical labor everyday shouldn’t be online I’m not trying to be cruel but if its the truth. Good luck to all who know what they are getting into

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Jamal roy

Hows it going fitter 638 do you have knowledge of how often they hand out applications? Thank you sir

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Anonymous visitor

Usually every 5 years applications are handed out but this last time it was a 7 year stretch between applications

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Thomster

Best of luck to them all. Pity that there isn’t more jobs on offer. Nice to see young people putting everything into looking for a trade. The world will always need tradespeople. It’s a good job and a noble profession. At the end of the day you have accomplished something and made a difference, technology and infrastructure is the heart of industry. It’s a pity there is still an element in society that if you wear a power suit/suit attend meetings and go to some high rise in the city or wall street that you’ve made it.

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