FTIUM: Where we came from, where we’re going

2023 FTIUM Grads
2023 FTIUM Grads

A long time ago, our employer partners and union leadership shared a vision for what the Finishing Trades Institute of the Upper Midwest could be. They all agreed on a few things: the school would be a place to train the whole worker, from ongoing skills training, to how to work well on a team, to how to live a fulfilling, healthy life in this demanding industry.

With every graduating class, our employer partners and union leadership watch as the next generation of the best-trained workers walk across that stage as apprentices and walk off into their new lives as journey workers; Workers who are continuously empowered to live out their successful careers just as our school’s founders envisioned. We see you, our partners see you, and our lawmakers see you too.

This past spring, the Minnesota Legislature passed a law that stated, beginning in 2024, that apprenticeship program graduates must make up at least 30% of the workforce at oil refineries. In 2025, it goes to 40%, 2026, 60%. How does this apply to the finishing trades, you might ask?

The Minnesota Legislature sees workers because we show up and use our voices. Dangerous work must be done with top safety standards. It’s understood that our communities and our workers are relying on schools like ours that train people to safely do their jobs. It’s undeniable that a lack of adequate training can lead to disastrous results. Simply put, having union-trained apprentices and journey workers can be the difference between having a successful project, or having a safety disaster.

So when you think about how you work safely on the job site, I want you to also think about the ripple effect you have. By showing up on that job site every day and performing your work with union excellence and top safety standards, you’re helping to keep workers safe across industries. You’re leading by example, and your example leads to major laws being passed that protect all workers.

What FTIUM’s graduates have managed to achieve by being the best versions of yourselves is beyond what our founders originally envisioned for the school. Because of our graduates, we can look to the future of the finishing trades with so much confidence and hope.

From all the staff of District Council 82, we couldn’t be more proud of our FTIUM graduates. Congratulations once again to the FTI-UM Class of 2023!

Jeff Stark
Business Manager/Secretary-Treasurer
District Council 82