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Boilermakers union to be featured on Laurence Fishburne series

L-169 apprentice Shelby Kavanaugh describes how she got involved with the union after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in science.

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During the summer of 2020, producers from “In Depth Series with Laurence Fishburne” contacted the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers in their search for a trade union to feature for a segment that explores the need in the U.S. for more skilled tradesmen and women—and the importance of attracting more young adults into union apprenticeship programs.

Hosted by acclaimed actor Laurence Fishburne, “In Depth Series” is an award-winning educational television series underscoring the evolution of education, medicine, science, technology and industry through inspiring stories.

“Considering the Boilermakers’ unique history, proven track record and depth of work—in shipyards, the energy sector and beyond—in addition to the Boilermakers’ high caliber training and safety programs, we saw this as an ideal opportunity to highlight what we offer to prospective apprentices and to prospective contractors and owners,” said International President Newton B. Jones.

The Boilermakers signed on to ultimately produce a mini “documentary” (about 7 minutes) that will be available online and distributed through the producer’s digital communications channels; a 3-minute “interstitial” educational segment to air between public broadcasting programming; and a 60-second TV commercial to air on popular cable networks (such as HGTV and the History Channel). All three film pieces will become the property of the Boilermakers to use further at the discretion of the union.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic halted plans to begin the project in 2020, filming finally took place in March 2021 at Local 169 in Detroit, Michigan.

“We were eager to begin, but we also wanted to be sure we could be as safe as possible and mindful of the state and local COVID-19 status and protocols,” said Amy Wiser, director of communication. “In addition to scenes that would require multiple apprentices together, we needed to also accommodate on-site interviews with several people from outside of Michigan.”

L-169 BM-ST Bob Hutsell set safety measures for the facility, including temperature checks, and all participants were required to wear masks and observe distancing unless being interviewed or in a scene.

“Bob Hutsell and his team did a fantastic job preparing the building and working to keep everyone as safe as possible, as well as making sure the facility was camera ready,” Wiser said. “The day went smoothly. We were able to keep things moving efficiently, and the training center was exactly the right setting the production crew needed.”

To provide a variety of perspectives, the crew interviewed L-169 apprentice Shelby Kavanaugh and journeyman Michael Dodson as well as NACBE Executive Director Ron Traxler and Martin Williams, National Coordinator of State Legislative Initiatives, M.O.R.E. Work Investment Fund.

“Our ultimate goal is to show prospective apprentices, owners and contractors what we already know: that the Boilermakers is the best union to join and to work with,” said IP Jones. “The message of this project should be a great help in advancing our union’s outreach.”

The ads and mini-documentary are currently in editing and are expected to be available within the summer of 2021. Watch for more information and availability through the IBB Update, Boilermakers app and social media.

To see other “In Depth Series with Laurence Fishburne” segments, visit https://indepthseries.com.