Max Hayes students still await fulfillment of promises of bond issue
by Chuck Hoven

(Plain Press, July 2006) Five years after the Cleveland Board of Education passed a resolution to work with Cleveland unions to create construction trades jobs for Cleveland students, Cleveland’s Max Hayes High School’s construction trades students are still waiting for the resolution to yield its promised results.

Of approximately 20 students graduating this year from Hayes’ construction trades program, not a single student will be entering a union apprenticeship program – a goal of the original resolution.

At the June 6th Board of Education Meeting, education advocate Don Freeman told the Board  “over five years have passed since the Board of Education passed a resolution on April 23, 2001 calling for the Cleveland Municipal School District’s Chief Operation Officer or a designate to work with the construction trade unions to prepare students for union jobs and secure commitments for union jobs for those students.”

Freeman said the resolution was a major part of Issue 14, the bond issue passed by voters in May of 2001. The bond issue, coupled with matching funds from the State of Ohio, resulted in the Cleveland Municipal School District embarking on a $1.5 billion school construction and repair program. At the June board meeting, Freeman called upon the Board of Education and Mayor Frank Jackson to address the issue of providing apprenticeships for youths in the construction trades that will lead to journeyman status and high paying union construction jobs.

To date, only one Max Hayes student has entered a journeyman track union apprenticeship as a result of the Construction School to Apprenticeship Program, according to Anthony Kazel, who places Max Hayes students in internships and jobs in their fields of study.  That student was placed with the electricians union during the 2004-2005 school year, and went into an apprenticeship with the union upon graduation.

While none of this year’s graduating seniors in the program received union apprenticeships, Kazel said that four eleventh-grade students are working summer jobs with the Electricians Union Local 38, working as wiremen on jobs in Cleveland school buildings. “If everything works out in their eleventh grade summer job,” he says, “the students will be in line their senior year for job placement in an apprenticeship on a journeyman track.”

Students would serve the apprenticeship during the school day in place of their Career and Technology Class. Upon graduation the students would continue in their apprenticeship with the union in route to a journeyman position in the union, says Kazel.

Max Hayes High School is the only high school in the school system to prepare students for jobs in the construction trades. Kazel estimates that twenty students graduate each year in the construction trades.  Of the approximately seventy students listed as graduating from Max Hayes this year, fifty were placed in full or part time jobs or continuing education in career-related trade areas. However, only five of the roughly 20 students graduating in the construction trades were placed in jobs. All of those jobs were non-union construction jobs, some of them, says Kazel, involve working on Cleveland school buildings. While he prefers to place students in union apprenticeships, Kazel says he will place students in whatever jobs are available.

At the Board of Education’s June 6th meeting, Cleveland Municipal School District staff member Nicholas Jackson reported that the curriculum for the Construction School to Apprenticeship Program has been completed. As to implementing the program, Jackson said, “We have some challenges with the trade unions.”

Kazel provided more specific information. He said thus far agreements have been reached with the Electrical Workers and the Roofers and Waterproofers, and agreements are close to completion with the Cement Masons and Laborers.  He says an agreement with the Sheet Metal workers is pending, while working out some legal issues.

Legal issues, said Kazel, are holding up completion of agreements with all the remaining local construction unions. He said the school systems’ legal representatives are meeting with those from each of the local unions to work out training agreements and letters of understanding. Kazel believes some of the issues involve what equipment students can work on, certain safety needs and jobs students can and cannot perform. He said part of the problem is that many of the students placed in the apprenticeship program are 17 years old and normally union apprenticeships start at age 18.  

A booklet provided by the Construction Industry Service Program lists 17 apprenticeship programs provided by local unions for 23 different construction job categories. Union apprenticeship programs are offered by the Asbestos Workers Local 3, Boilmakers Local 744, Bricklayers Local 5, Carperters –NEOC, Cement Masons Local 404, Electricians Local 38, Glaziers Local 181, Iron Workers Local 17, Laborers Local 310, Operating Engineers Local 18, Painters District Council Local 6, Pipefitters Local 120, Plasterers Local 80, Plumbers Local 55, Roofers and Waterproofers Local 44, Sheet Metal Local 33, and Tile Layers Local 36.

Many obstacles stand in the way of the placement of Max Hayes students in the high paying union construction jobs. Union apprenticeships for Max Hayes students are dependent upon openings being available at local unions. For example, Kazel says this year, although there is an agreement in place with the Roofers and Waterproofers, he and the union tried to place a student but found no openings.

Unlike the Union Construction Industry Partnership apprenticeship Skills Achievement Program (UCIP-ASAP), (May 2004 Plain Press) designed by the construction unions with sponsorship from the City of Cleveland to recruit adults into the construction trades, Max Hayes students graduating from the construction trade program do not have guaranteed job slots set aside for them by local unions. The City of Cleveland has used the Fannie M. Lewis Residency Law requirement that Cleveland residents make up a 20% percent of the workforce of each job to help facilitate job placement of the graduates of UCIP-ASAP. The school system has no such requirement for hiring its graduates as part of its school construction program. In addition, the state rules limit the ability of the school system to require union contracts on construction jobs.

Kazel is confident the issues with the unions will be worked out.  “We will get there,” he said. One thing he has learned over the years, he said, is “everything in education takes time.”

Freeman says the high percentage placement of Max Hayes graduating students in other trades and the low placement of students in the construction trades speaks for itself. Freeman believes there is a lack of commitment and resolve by the construction trade unions to address this issue. Freeman is calling for a face-to-face meeting between Mayor Frank Jackson and the construction trade union leadership to speed up the process.


News & Articles | Archives