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Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council notices 'highest level of apprentices ever' before fall graduation

Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council
Posted at 8:49 PM, Sep 04, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Mo — When you look around Kansas City, you'll see some beautiful buildings, skyscrapers and historical structures, but you might not know the skilled trade workers behind them.

"I'm proud to walk in somewhere and say I helped build that," said Daniel Cooper, an apprentice for Carpenter's Local 315.

Cooper is in his fourth and final year as an apprentice.

"I'm a union carpenter, local 315. I've done many different things since I've been here — doors, sheet rock, metal studs," Cooper said.

Being an apprentice means you are learning and laboring at the same time.

"Our applicants come in and some might not even be able to spell tape measure, but after the four-year training program, they not only understand how to use a tape measure, but also how to lay out buildings," said Rocky Kloth, regional director for the Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council.

They have a saying — "catch a man a fish, he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he will never go hungry."

"Most college students go to school for 2,100 plus hours of instruction, our folks go through 6,000," Kloth said.

Their regional program has never been bigger, and they admit the value of a union in a continued fight for fair pay and working conditions in other industries.

"There are still contractors and still industries that have levels of greed," Kloth said. "We are a voice to those workers."

While it can be physically demanding, many of them wouldn't trade it for anything else.

"The economy actually thrives on folks, especially with the weather we’ve had in the metro lately," Kloth said. "When your air conditioning is out, you want an AC person right away; you want something built to quality that's going to last a lifetime."

The carpenter's union expects around 200 apprentices to graduate this fall.

"I would tell any young person or even someone stuck in a mediocre job — join a trade," Cooper said. "It's been the best thing I've ever done."