DC 9 union sets up NYCHA apprenticeship program

Councilman Ritchie Torres announced a new union apprenticeship program with DC 9 for NYCHA residents last week in Allerton.
Courtesy of the Office of Ritchie Torres

A new program announced last week will help residents of the NYC Housing Authority get good paying union jobs close to home.

Councilman Ritchie Torres announced the first-of-its kind program Friday at the Parkside Houses on Bronx Park East in Allerton with a handful of its first participants.

The city council has put aside $26 million in funding over three years to create a civil service apprenticeship program with the NYCHA through District 9 of the International Union of painters and Allied Trades.

The Bronx is home to 89 NYCHA developments, according to Torres, and the program will give more than 100 of its residents an opportunity to get on a career path in the city’s construction industry.

“Partnerships like this one, that help everyday New Yorkers get jobs training and provide a real pathway to the middle class, are what’s needed to continue to build this city and uplift our residents. I want to thank District Council 9 for their vision in developing this program and their hard work to reach out to communities of color,” said Torres, the chairman of the Council’s Committee on Public Housing.

DC 9, as it is better known among members, is a statewide, century-old organization whose members are employed in painting, wall covering, glazier and architectural metal and glass work, structural steel and bridge painting, drywall finishing, window filming, metal polishing and sign and display painting.

District Council 9 political director Davon Lomax, said the union lobbied the state to get approval for the city-funded apprenticeship.

The new recruits will be trained by journeyman union painters, he said.

NYCHA residents are consistently underserved when it comes to job placement, Lomax added, and are often forced to take dead end-jobs.

“These apprentices, about 105 of them, will all have apprenticeship titles now,” Lomax said. “That means that when they graduate from the program they will have a NYS Department of Labor apprenticeship certificate and a path to the middle class.”

In addition to being geared exclusively towards NYCHA residents, Lomax said 88 percent are women and 98 percent are people of color.

“They are learning a skill no one can ever take away from them,” Lomax said.

The apprentices who attended the announcement were not allowed to speak to the press, but business manager for District Council 9 Joseph Azzopardi said with 44,000 NYCHA apartments, the Bronx was the perfect place to launch such a program.

“It establishes a partnership that we would like to expand upon in the future,” he added.

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 260-4591. E-mail him at acusano@cnglocal.com.Follow him on Twitter @arthurcusano.

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