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Congresswoman Garcia tours new pipefitters school

L – R: Business Agent John Guyon, Organizer Andrea Delagarza, Training Coordinator Kevin Bickerstaff, Business Manager Bryan Edwards, Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia, President Mark Baker, Business Agent Kenneth Waybright, HVAC Training Coordinator Randy Beal and Organizer Matt Patrick. (Allan Jamail Photo)

By Allan Jamail

Deer Park, TX. – February 18, 2020 — Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia toured the new, $4 million state-of-the-art Pipefitters Local 211 Apprentice School. While on the tour, Business Manager Bryan Edwards stopped briefly enough to present Garcia an award in recognition and appreciation for her long history of supporting and promoting organized labor.

Garcia’s district includes thousands of union jobs in the North Channel area and along and near the Houston Ship Channel. Local 211 have a couple thousand members in Garcia’s district as well. She has worked to secure union jobs first when she was as a County Commissioner, then Texas Senator, and now as a member of Congress. She believes organized labor gives workers a voice which allows them to report unsafe job conditions without fear of retaliation and provides a decent fair wage, with health benefits for the union member’s family and a respectable retirement pension.

Garcia said, “As someone who is one of ten children and grew up poor, I know the importance of a good paying job, and organized labor has historically stood up for working families and fought to ensure that they are treated with dignity and respect. That’s why I am such a strong supporter of organized labor.”

She advocates high school graduates to get a college education if possible, but for those who can’t for one reason or another, then a good trade union apprentice school can be a good alternative.

Business Manager Bryan Edwards said, “We have a brand-new state-of-the-art Apprentice School with 450 apprentices and are steadily growing. We have 50 brand new welding training booths, and each contains its own brand new welding machine. These apprentices earn a good living while they go to school 2 nights a week…for FREE! Students only have to pay for their school books, which they keep for referencing later in their career. Everything else is FREE. Our apprentice program is college credited with up to 45 credits.”

“We do so much than just teaching pipefitting. We specialize in several skills, such as Instrumentation, Heating & Air Conditioning, Computer Welding, Diametric Welding, Mig Welding, Tig Welding, Pipe Fabrication, Isometric Drafting, Supervisor Foreman Training, Load Lifting Rigging Qualification & with Rigging Certification, OSHA 10, OSHA 30, First Aid & CPR Training, and SAFETY! Our Apprenticeship program is without a doubt one of the best in the world,” Edwards said.

“The apprentices train and work for five years before graduating into a journeyman. A first year apprentice earns about $26 an hour including their benefits. Each year thereafter they’ll get a substantial pay raise until they become a journeyman who now has a near $48 an hour pay wage and benefit package, earning $70,000 on average annually.”

The Edwards family has a long history with Local 211. Business Manager Bryan’s grandfather, known as Big Ed Edwards, served as Sgt. at Arms in the union meetings. He was muscular and built like a professional football running back. Big Ed’s son, Kenneth Edwards, Bryan’s dad, served as Business Manager for many years, and the current apprentice school is named after him — The Kenneth H. Edwards Apprentice School.

Interested applicants must pass a basic math test, be 18 years of age, and have a high school diploma or GED certificate. Applicant testing began in January and goes through June 4th. For more information call Karey Johnson at (713) 649-0201 Ext. 103 or go to 1301 West 13th Street Suite B. Deer Park, TX. 77536. Learn more at: www.pipefitterslocal211.com for a map and directions.