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    "The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people."
    Cesar Chavez

    :: Wednesday, December 20, 2006 ::

    Inside Bay Area - Housing jobs hit a wall - By George Avalos, Tri-Valley Herald, CA
    The dynamic in construction could go beyond a shift in available jobs to the nonresidential market. Some construction and building trades could have heated demand in the coming months or years, said Johnny Gallon, apprentice coordinator with the boilermakers and welders union in Pittsburg.

    "There is a big shortage of welders," Gallon said. "The average age of welders we have now is about 54, and a lot of welders are getting older and starting to retire."

    To meet the staffing requirements, the Boilermakers union has decided to take on 200 apprentices. Gallon pointed to major projects suitable for his and other trade unions such as the new PG&E electricity plant in Antioch.

    The Ironworkers Union Local 378 in Benicia also has opened its apprenticeship program, said Mark Ferguson, the local's business manager. People who already have skills, or even young people coming out of high school can consider applying for an apprenticeship.

    "We have plenty of work," Ferguson said. "We have a lot of refinery work coming up. There is a lot of work in Oakland for redevelopment. You have Kaiser hospital projects. There is work in Richmond, the North Bay. We're looking for people with skills, and high school guys and girls can apply."
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