I came to America from Egypt in 1982 when I was 22, looking for a better life. My father-in-law, the late John A. Harmer Jr., a first-generation Boilermaker, encouraged me to join the trade. I worked closely with highly-skilled Boilermakers who patiently taught me everything I needed to know. Coming from another country and having to learn English was hard, and my first years in the trade were the toughest. I would like to say to all the apprentices, “If I can make it, so can you.” Learning a trade, having health insurance and a pension, and being protected by the union is worth the effort you put into it.
The decision to become a Boilermaker was one of the best I have ever made. I would like to thank all the members of Local 28 [Newark, N.J.] for all their help, encouragement and laughs over the years — that is what I miss the most.