Northern Nevada's Building Trades on Nevada Newsmakers

Building and Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada's Business Representative Rob Benner talks shop with Nevada NewsMakers' Sam Shad about the development boom east of Reno, changing the narrative of careers in the trades, the coming exodus of Nevada's construction workers as they reach retirement age and cash in on their union retirement plans, and the push to attract new tradespeople to fill those gaps to keep up with growing demand.

"We're looking at a demographic time bomb...our average construction worker is about 50, and most construction workers retire in their 50s, so we're looking at about 50% of our construction workers here in Nevada retiring in the next 10 years."

Victories for Nevada's Union Building Trades in 2019 in the 80th Nevada Legislature

Collective bargaining. Prevailing wage. Apprenticeship. Nevada's labor unions, and especially the union building and construction trades, earned major wins in the 2019 legislative session—thanks in large part to a massive get-out-the-vote campaign, and the support labor put behind union members running for office across the state.

"We have a lot of our friends here. And when I say 'our friends,' I mean us. Look down your list of legislators and see how many of them are union members now.

Boys & Girls Club of Truckee Meadows Visit the Operating Engineers Local 3 Training Facility

We had a lot of fun today at the Northern Nevada Operating Engineers Local #3 apprenticeship training facility with the kids from Boys & Girls Club of the Truckee Meadows!

This is the first of four hands-on building trades apprenticeship program tours for B&G Club kids. They'll also visit IBEW Local 401, Laborers International Union of North America Local 169, and Ironworkers Local 118 Apprenticeship training facilities. There were lots of smiles today! We love showing these kids how much fun careers in the building and construction trades can be.

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Northern Nevada Apprenticeship Spotlight: HVAC Service Technician


“Be a plumber—they get rich,” said Shark Tank’s notorious straight-shooting millionaire Kevin O’Leary, also known as Mr. Wonderful, in a CNBC “Make It” feature last month. “Everybody has to have a plumber, even in a recession.”

O’Leary was speaking to the misconception that anyone who wants to make a lot of money needs to go to college. Not so, says O’Leary—and anyone who’s ever been or known a master plumber, whose salaries can reach into the six digits. And most of them get there without the crippling student debt that plagues college graduates for decades after earning their degree.

Northern Nevada’s registered union apprenticeship programs in the building and construction trades provide not just free but paid college-level education and state-of-the-art, high-tech career training in the classroom and on the job, with the opportunity to earn concurrent college credits from a local, accredited community college—also free—while in the program. Apprentices start earning above-average wages on day one, receive a full benefits package after one to three months, and graduate out-earning most of their college graduate counterparts.

But this gem of a career track goes unnoticed by many—including students, parents, educators, and legislators. So today we’re kicking off a new monthly series to highlight apprenticeship-based careers in the Northern Nevada building and construction trades. And we’re starting with a career track that’s both, shall we say, hot and cool: HVAC Service Technician with the UA Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 350.

Read more over at

2019 Apprenticeship Day at the Nevada Legislature—A Success!

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On April 23 we gathered tradesmen and tradeswomen from around Nevada to join us for our first-ever Apprenticeship Day at the Nevada Legislature. We wanted lawmakers to hear first-hand how apprenticeships change lives and build careers, and how they’re an economically-viable answer to a strong skilled workforce in Nevada.

Those lawmakers went on to pass a critical apprenticeship bill a month later, and Governor Steve Sisolak signed it into law this week. Thank you to everyone who supported the bill, and those who came out to talk about apprenticeship!

Read more about Apprenticeship Day at the legislature and watch the video here.

80th Nevada Legislature Delivers Critical Wins to Nevada's Union Building & Construction Trades

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State lawmakers act on mandate from Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak to expand workforce development and labor-friendly legislation in the state

Nevada’s historic 80th legislature adjourned last week after 120 days of deliberation and debate on more than 1,000 bills—passing nearly 500 of them. Among those that passed were three important bills for Nevada’s union building and construction trades. All three bills, which have now been signed into law by the governor, are exciting first steps toward increasing and improving the skilled labor pool in Nevada’s construction workforce.

Introduced and carried by Nevada State Assemblyman Jason Frierson, Assembly Bill 136 corrected prevailing wage cuts made by state Republicans in 2015. Those cuts set prevailing wages for school construction projects to 90% of established prevailing wage, raised the threshold for projects from $100,000 to $250,000, and made charter schools exempt from prevailing wage laws. The 80th legislature reversed those cuts, ensuring that all public school construction workers on projects of $100,000 or more will receive 100% of local prevailing wage.

Why it’s important: AB136 directly impacts Nevada’s construction workforce, putting more money in the pockets of the hardworking men and women that build our public schools. That money not only benefits current construction workers, it increases interest in building and construction careers, which a) helps address shortages in the construction workforce, and b) improves the quality of candidates, which raises the standards of school construction for everyone.

Introduced by Nevada State Senator Chris Brooks, Senate Bill 207 requires contractors award public works projects to employ one or more apprentices for a minimum percentage of the total hours worked on those jobs, and requires contractors to enter into apprenticeship agreements for all public works projects in the state of Nevada.

Why it’s important: SB207 increases the overall number of apprentices working on public works projects in Nevada, which boosts the benefits and impacts of registered apprenticeship programs in the state and their contribution to the overall development of a skilled workforce in Nevada.

Introduced by Nevada State Senator Chris Brooks, Senate Bill 231 eliminates language intended to discourage public entities from hiring or awarding tax abatements, financial grants, or exemptions to contractors with labor unions agreements. That language, implemented in 2015, negatively impacted Nevada’s registered apprenticeship programs and undermined the state’s skilled labor market.

Why it’s important: SB231 struck anti-worker and anti-union language from legislation surrounding public works projects, which strengthens project labor agreements, increases the state’s skilled workforce training programs and retention, and keeps more construction dollars in the community.

Northern Nevada’s Union Building Trades Announce Partnership with Washoe YouthBuild Program


In February, the U.S. Department of Labor awarded $1.1 million to the Children’s Cabinet to fund the next three years of Washoe YouthBuild—a program that provides pre-apprenticeship training and job placement in the building and construction trades for at-risk youth between the ages of 18-24 in Washoe County. Washoe YouthBuild expects to serve 60 participants, focusing on youth who have dropped out of school.

“The program will be about 30 weeks,” says Washoe YouthBuild program director Jeremy Stocking. “We’re working with the local building trades to provide vocational skills training. Participants will tour the building trades training facilities, visit the union hall, and we’re working with the Laborers Local 169 and the Painters and Allied Trades Local 567 to set up direct entry for program graduates.”

The Building and Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada is excited to partner with Washoe YouthBuild to train the next generation of trades professionals. The program uses the national pre-apprenticeship program model and materials (known as multi-core craft curriculum, or MC3) developed by North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU). The MC3 curriculum trains participants on the basics of working in the construction industry, and includes modules like:

Construction Industry Orientation
Tools and Materials
Construction Health and Safety
Blueprint Reading
Basic Math for Construction
Heritage of the American Worker
Diversity in the Construction Industry
Green Construction
Financial Literacy

“We’re very lucky to have this program here in the greater Reno-Sparks area,” says Rob Benner, business representative for the Building and Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada. “It augments the local skilled workforce and helps provide a pipeline of trained candidates for our growing construction industry, it helps to create healthier  communities, and most importantly, it gives our local youth great career options they might not have otherwise had access to.”

Dian VanderWell, apprenticeship recruiter for the Northern Nevada Apprenticeship Coordinators’ Association, says she hopes the program will reach out to young women, especially. “Across the country, the union building trades are working hard to push out the message that construction isn’t a career that’s mostly for men. The Washoe YouthBuild can be such a great opportunity to engage young women in the trades, and show them first-hand that this is a good-paying career they can support themselves and a family on and be proud of.”

Other Washoe YouthBuild partners include Truckee Meadows Community College, Community Services Agency, and Truckee Meadows Habitat for Humanity. For more information on Washoe YouthBuild, contact Jeremy Stocking at Children’s Cabinet at 775-443-4501 or visit

Do you have the mettle to complete the 2019 Ironworkers Gladiator Bootcamp Training Course?

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Do you know someone who deserves not just a better job, but a rewarding, well-paying career they can be proud of? How about paid university-level training and benefits from day one? Tell them to join us for the:


The Ironworkers Union Local 118 is accepting a maximum of 25 participants for a free two-week bootcamp. This intensive course will train participants in the skills required for a great job in the in-demand ironwork industry. Those with the mettle to complete this two-week bootcamp will have the opportunity to join the paid apprenticeship program at the Ironworkers Local 118. Starting wage for an Ironworker apprentice is $19.50/hour plus benefits.

This FREE 2-Week Ironworkers Gladiator Bootcamp runs Monday through Friday May 13-24, 7:00 AM – 3:30 PM.

If you or someone you know is interested in this great opportunity to build a brighter future in the high-tech building and construction trades, register below to attend the MANDATORY pre-bootcamp orientation session on Monday, May 6 from 10am to Noon (late attendees will not be accepted) at The University of Iron, 14295 Mt. Bismark St in Reno.

No experience necessary. Women encouraged to apply! Must be 18 years of age with a H.S. diploma/GED, reliable transportation, and able to lift and carry a minimum of 70 lbs. Must pass on-site drug screen to be accepted into the program.

Name *
Phone *
I have read the above and agree to these terms of the 2019 Ironworkers Gladiator Bootcamp Training Course *

Referral letters from local contractors or other relevant organizations or individuals are accepted, but optional. If you have a referral letter, please bring it with you to the orientation session on May 6 and submit it by the end of the session.

Prevailing Wage: What is it, and why is it important?


Today the Nevada legislature heard arguments for Nevada Assembly Bill 136, sponsored by Assemblymen Frierson, Benitez Thompson, Carlton, McCurdy, Daly; Assefa, Backus, Bilbray-Axelrod, Carrillo, Cohen, Duran, Flores, Fumo, Gorelow, Jauregui, Martinez, Miller, Monroe-Moreno, Munk, Neal, Nguyen, Peters, Spiegel, Sprinkle, Swank, Thompson, Torres, Watts, and Yeager. Special thanks to Nevada State Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson and Government Affairs Chair Edgar Flores for introducing this bill to protect Nevada’s workers, communities, and contractors.

Nevada AB136 proposes changes to the way that prevailing wage requirements are determined for public construction projects in Nevada. If passed, the bill would require public and charter school construction projects to pay 100% of the prevailing wage to construction workers on those projects, instead of the 90% they now pay. The bill would also lower the project budget threshold for prevailing wage requirements on Nevada public works projects from $250,000 to $100,000, and remove specific requirements for the way the labor commissioner determines the prevailing wage. Finally, the bill would allow the prevailing wage to be challenged by any public body, labor organization, or contractor in the project’s county within 30 days of prevailing wage determination.

So why is that important? What does it mean for Nevada?

Prevailing wage laws are public checks against the practice by some contractors of slashing wages for construction labor in order to compete on price for public construction projects, like schools. Under prevailing wage laws, contractors awarded public projects must agree to pay wages the labor commissioner has determined to be the prevailing—or statistically average—wage in the county where the project is located.

Studies show that when prevailing wage laws are weak or non-existent, communities and individuals are negatively impacted. These impacts include erosions to workforce development efforts, increased safety hazards and higher injury rates on the job, and lower—sometimes significantly—wages and benefits for workers, which directly impacts county economic health.

Research also shows that the presence of prevailing wages laws does not increase project costs, which suggests that higher wages offset losses due to unskilled labor, injuries, and decreased productivity when no prevailing wage exists. Prevailing wage laws are also shown to increase workforce diversity and participation in apprenticeship programs.

A robust, skilled labor workforce is critical to Nevada’s future. Nevada Assembly Bill 136 will ensure that the viability, safety, and diversity of our state’s construction apprenticeship programs and workforce will be protected, can grow to meet the challenges of Nevada’s growth, and provide living wage jobs for working Nevadans—which benefits all of us.

Thank you again to Speaker Frierson and Chair Flores, and to the Nevada legislative members who sponsored and support this important bill.

Chart the Course: Educating Washoe County Students and Families About Earn-While-You-Learn College Opportunities

U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto stops by the Northern Nevada building trades booth to chat with Dian VanderWell and Rob Benner at Chart the Course.

U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto stops by the Northern Nevada building trades booth to chat with Dian VanderWell and Rob Benner at Chart the Course.

So many students flounder trying to find their way through college and into a rewarding career. Many of them end up unemployed or under-employed after graduation, often saddled with thousands in student debt. And we now know that this generation’s massive collective student debt has had repercussions on our economy that we’ll feel for decades to come. Educating Nevada’s students about debt-free, earn-while-you-learn opportunities for good-paying jobs in growing career fields is more important now than ever.

U.S. Senator Cortez Masto and Rob Benner, business representative for the Building & Construction Trades Council of N. Nevada.

U.S. Senator Cortez Masto and Rob Benner, business representative for the Building & Construction Trades Council of N. Nevada.

Thank you to the University of Nevada—Reno for hosting Chart the Course, an event for Washoe County middle- and high-school students and their families to explore a variety of education and career paths, including careers in the high-tech building trades. We loved having the opportunity to speak with Washoe County students and parents about our registered paid apprenticeship programs—a college education that pays students to learn!—and the limitless and varied career opportunities that exist today in the in-demand building and construction industry.

We’d also like to thank Truckee Meadows Community College and the Washoe County School District’s Career & Technical Education (CTE) program, and a special shout-out and thank you to Nevada’s U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto for stopping by, and for her support of registered apprenticeships and the Nevada building trades!