June is Pride Month!

Each June marks another year of Pride for the LGBTQ+ community. Since 1970, Pride Month has commemorated the anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and has since developed into a 30-day celebration, including parades, events, concerts, and memorials. We celebrate Pride as a reminder of those who have advocated for LGBTQ+ rights from early on in the movement and continue their legacy. 

Plasterers Local 534 is proud to have a membership that encourages and supports equality and inclusivity within our union and communities. As union members, we enjoy competitive and uniform wages and benefits for all, regardless of sexual orientation. Of particular importance to our LGBTQ+ Brothers and Sisters are: 

  • Comprehensive and inclusive healthcare benefits.
  • Undivided support of workplace discrimination laws.

While we do as much as possible to uplift and protect our LGBTQ+ Brothers and Sisters, all members must be vigilant of workplace discrimination toward any community member. Be sure to report any comments or harassment to the union hall. Lastly, we wish our LGBTQ+ Brothers and Sisters a very happy Pride Month!

Boston Herald: Union apprenticeships the new 4-year degree

Hand smoothing concrete

By John Sweeney
With graduation season upon us — students’ thoughts naturally turn to the future and what it may hold. For many, the end of high school means going to college. For others, the choice may be to enter the military. But for some, a union apprenticeship is the new four-year degree.

After all, college isn’t for everyone. Years ago, I decided that it wasn’t the best choice for me.

Not that college wasn’t fun. It was just that I was putting too much time into having fun and too little time into studying. It just wasn’t the right fit.

Signing up for an apprenticeship was like a gift to me. It was that or going to work at my local supermarket. Looking back, I know I made the right choice.

A union apprenticeship was my ticket to landing a job that offered opportunity and paid a family-sustaining wage with excellent benefits. As an apprentice, I got trained while getting paid. And I didn’t have thousands of dollars in college loans to repay at the end of my education.

Some members of my union — Boston Plasterers and Cement Masons Local 534 — had already earned college degrees before they picked up the tools of our trade. That’s because getting trained in concrete and plaster was a better fit for them than the other opportunities out there. So they signed up as apprentices and found their ticket to the middle class. For so many of our brothers and sisters in the local—this was the right answer for them.

In fact, a new study from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute concluded that an apprenticeship might be as good a ticket to the middle class as a four-year degree. 

On average, graduates of joint labor-management, meaning union, apprenticeship programs do well. In the construction industry, they can achieve wage and benefits packages almost on a par with other workers with four-year college degrees. Some may be making significantly more money than college graduates—all without mountains of student loan debt. 

Beyond that, Local 534’s apprenticeship programs offer training in cutting-edge tools. We recently debuted our virtual reality training program, which helps apprentices prepare for challenging situations before they even come up on the job.

The virtual reality training gives apprentices a real sense of what it’s like to do such things as spray fire-retardant onto metal beams at a building under construction and simulates being out on a construction platform and doing the job. This type of training in the latest equipment keeps our members prepared to tackle any situation on the job.

Local 534 is also recruiting the workforce of the 21st century. We’re actively recruiting women and minorities to our apprenticeship programs. Unlike other industries, you won’t find a gender pay gap out on the job. Under the union contract, that just won’t happen.

So it’s too simplistic to tell high schoolers that the only path to a solid and satisfying career is to go to college. College isn’t for everyone. Instead, high school guidance counselors should be educating students on all the options available to them once they graduate.

There are many great reasons for high school students to check out the opportunities offered by union apprenticeship programs. For many high school graduates, a union apprenticeship program is the new four-year degree.

Training the Next Generation

Thumbnail - Plasterers and Cement Mason 534 VR Simulator Video

Local 534 was excited to debut our new VR training system to the next generation at the Girls in the Trades Conference and YouthBuild Boston. Both groups were able to try out the new VR system and get a feel for what it’s like on a real-life job site. The new VR system demonstrates first-hand how appealing joining our crafts can be as we work to recruit the next generation of plasterers and cement masons.

We’re revolutionizing how we train our apprentices and continue to deliver high-quality education. By mimicking natural work environments, pre-apprentices, apprentices, and journeypeople learn proper techniques before ever setting foot on a job.

Apply to the John F. “Jackie” O’Neil Annual Scholarship

Scholarship Fund graphic

Applications for Local 534’s John F. “Jackie” O’Neil Annual Scholarship, established in honor of our former training director, Jackie O’Neil, are now being accepted. This scholarship gives those close to a Local 534 member the ability to pursue higher education at a lower cost.

Applicants must fill out the application form and submit an essay on how Local 534, unions, and the labor movement have impacted their life.

The application deadline is September 1, 2022. If you have any questions, please contact Business Manager John Sweeney at 617-825-5200 or jsweeneylocal534@gmail.com.

We look forward to reviewing your applications!

Join the Fight: Massachusetts Is Not For Sale!

Local 534 - Stand Up to Big Tech!
Local 534 - Stand Up to Big Tech!

Local 534 is proud to support Massachusetts Is Not For Sale in its fight against the exploitation of drivers in apps like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash. Big Tech is pouring millions of dollars into their campaign to deny their drivers’ rights and destroy their right to unionize. We’re standing with these drivers as every worker deserves a seat at the table.

These companies are currently fighting for a loophole in Massachusetts labor laws (through the bill labeled H.1234) that would let them continue to classify their drivers as independent contractors instead of employees. This maneuver would allow them to bypass protections for Massachusetts workers, including the minimum wage, paid sick time, and family leave. In addition, the bill would undercut unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation and undermine protections against sexual harassment and racial discrimination at work.

Local 534 and the coalition have this to say: Not in our state! We can’t allow Big Tech to buy laws that expand their profits while hurting workers and families. Massachusetts has a long history of supporting workers’ rights and protecting them from greedy employers.

Click here to learn more about Massachusetts is Not For Sale and its fight against Big Tech; sign up to volunteer or donate.

Boston Local 534 Endorses Healey For Governor

Maura Healey graphic

Maura Healey has an excellent pro-labor record that includes fighting for paid medical leave, diversity in the workplace, and working families. That’s why the Boston Plasterers and Cement Masons Local 534 is so pleased to endorse the Commonwealth’s attorney general in the race for Massachusetts governor.

Healey heartedly supports the trade union movement and its role in providing economic mobility and strengthening the middle class. The attorney general knows that this is a moment of great opportunity for Massachusetts residents. And she’s committed to working in partnership with labor to expand job training programs and ensure that working people benefit. She’s been a champion for healthcare, affordable housing costs, and workers’ rights, and we’re proud to support her.

For more on Maura Healey, visit her website.

We look forward to seeing you at the ballot box on September 6.

The Local 534 Spring 2022 Newsletter is Out Now!

Newsletter Cover

The Local 534 Spring Newsletter is now available online! Click here to read up on the latest work members have been doing or wait for the physical copy to hit your mailbox

This edition highlights the fantastic work of Local 534, from the historic Boston Opera House to a spotlight on fireproof sprayers. You can also get more information about how we celebrated women in the trades during Women’s History Month and how to take advantage of Massachusetts Building Trades Unions Recovery Council.

As always, thank you for your support.