Even though all locals have training centers, this one adds an up-to-date facility to the Northeast, required to recruit needed Boilermakers.
Northeast members commemorated the official opening of the David Dupuis Northeast Regional Training Center in East Hartford, Connecticut, in a fitting way—by hosting two years of the Northeast and Great Lakes area apprenticeship competitions due to shutdowns caused by COVID-19. And while the pandemic has taken much from people across the globe, it gave those from the Northeast Area Apprenticeship at least one positive thing: time.
Members donated skills and elbow grease along with a lot of free time to complete the training center. Its completion, a labor of love to the Brotherhood and its up-and-coming young members, took copious volunteer hours, which saved NEAAC thousands upon thousands of dollars.
John Fultz, International Vice President of the Northeast, said that the new training center would not be a reality without the support and foresight of the NEAAC Board of Trustees. “They had insight concerning the need for a training facility to meet the growing demand for welders,” Fultz said. “Even though all locals have training centers, this one adds an up-to-date facility to the Northeast, required to recruit needed Boilermakers.”
BM-ST Chris O’Neill, Local 237 (Hartford, Connecticut), who was among those volunteering to complete the center, said that pandemic shutdowns gave members in the Northeast the opportunity to safely build out the training portion of the facility, one that will help his local as well as others in the region.
“Our local had an outdated facility and this gave Local 237 an additional space to train apprentices,” O’Neill said.
NEAAC Administrator Jason Dupuis said that pandemic closures allowed them to finish the small details that can be time consuming. “It gave us time to finish all the bells and whistles.”
So much time, in fact, that Dupuis promised his family at the dedication dinner that he’d be home more, now that the center is complete. Dupuis built a stunning granite-topped conference table for a fraction of the cost of purchasing it. This was only one of many projects he completed. And he wasn’t the only one. While many hands worked on the facility, L-237 President Mike Pierce and the local’s lead instructor, Daniel Badiali volunteered many hours to finish the training center. And Stephen Murphy, NEAAC apprentice coordinator, spent countless weeks away from his home in Pittsburgh to help complete the facility.
“He played a big part,” Dupuis said. “Without these guys, we would still be building out the facility.”
They weren’t just building tables. Volunteers also built the center’s 18 outfitted welding booths, the fabrication table, rigging structure and other essentials for apprentice training. The outside quote to build the welding booths alone weighed in at $100,000. That’s when members decided to build the booths with volunteer workers, costing much less, around $4,000.
The cost savings were a plus for NEAAC.
“This training center will produce more journeymen for the Northeast.” Fultz said. “And because they donated their own free time, it saved the Northeast Apprentice Committee thousands.”
This was a great opportunity to build a state-of-the-art training facility at a reasonable cost.
Michael Bray, NEAAC secretary/treasurer and Boilermaker National Apprenticeship Program chairman, said the new training center will help deliver the high-quality training Boilermakers have always provided. “This is the greatest organization I’ve been affiliated with. It has some of the finest craftsmen in the world,” he said. “And this was a great opportunity to build a state-of-the-art training facility at a reasonable cost.”
The new facility is named after Local 237’s second business manager, David Dupuis, now retired. He took the reins of L-237 at age 27 as the youngest business manager in the union. His mission at the time focused on getting the local back on its feet.
“And he did,” Fultz said. “He got jobs the Boilermakers hadn’t had in 10 years. It was a great accomplishment. At that point, they sent in the vice president to find out who this kid was.”
In 1986 he became the Northeast Area apprenticeship coordinator and kept the apprenticeship going strong.
“It was a great day for me when I asked the trustees to dedicate this building in his name,” Fultz said.