Students join Local 11 members at job site

Demand for skilled workers allows for interesting classroom project

NINE MEMBERS OF a welding class left the UM-Helena College of Technology to get some hands-on experience by working side-by-side with members of Local 11 (Helena, Mont.) at the Colstrip 3 Power Plant.

The students worked eight weeks this spring, helping the Boilermakers complete repair work on a boiler and perform routine maintenance work during a scheduled shutdown at the facility.

Usually one or two students have participated in past years during the shutdown, but never as many as nine, said UM welding instructor Tim Harris in an interview conducted by John Harrington of the Helena Independent Record.

“We’ve built good relations with Boilermakers Local 11 in East Helena,” Harris said. “They’re in serious need of people and the students were interested in what they do. It’s a wonderful time for a person to make an excellent living in the trades now.”

And Harris’ students are well prepared. He has nearly 20 students who took part in a standardized test administered by Tetra Tech and the American Welding Society, and the entire class earned a perfect score.

According to Local 11 BM-ST John Roeber, three of these students have joined the Boilermakers’ apprenticeship program and two of these students earned certification in tube welding on their very first job.

Roeber estimates that about 12 Local 11 members have attended UM-Helena College of Technology, including graduate apprentice Leo Seitz, who will be representing Local 11 in the Boilermakers’ national apprenticeship competition in Kansas City this fall.

“The members of Local 11 know where the future for the organization is,” Roeber said.