Tell us about the Laborers Union, Local 324?
We are the local laborers union, specializing in concrete, asphalt, underground piping and traffic control. I have been president for 20 years, and since I first started back in 1995, we have grown to 3,900 members – so I’m quite proud of our union and what we do in this community.
How do residents get involved in the union?
We accept applications from March 1 through June 30.* After you’ve filled out an application and mailed it to our apprenticeship department, you will be contacted to attend an orientation at our training center in San Ramon where you’ll be assessed on your skill level. You need a score of 75% or better to get accepted.
How can residents best prepare themselves to work in the union?
If you don’t have any experience in a trade or a skill, my first piece of advice is to join a pre-apprenticeship program. There you can develop a skill and be trained. RichmondBUILD is a great program that helps prepare laborers. In fact, we get a number of our members from that program.
Why are unions still important today?
Unions are a starting point from where people can begin a new life. They provide a career that includes healthcare and other benefits for your family. In my opinion, the purpose o being in a union is to come together with colleagues and residents to help your community become a better place. If you’re not planning on going to college, then the union is a great option in the current economic climate.
Do you have any favorite places to eat in Richmond?
We just found a new restaurant and we love it – it’s called El Campesino Bar and Grill, and man, it’s awesome!
What is the real Richmond to you?
I have lived here for nearly my entire life, and I have lived a blessed life. It’s a relatively small city, so everyone knows everyone, from children up to adults. Richmond is a community you can be a part of. Depending on what you want to do, there are a lot of avenues in Richmond you can take to achieve your goals.
What is a myth that you would like to dispel about Chevron?
Since we are laborers and often working in and around heavy machinery, we know how important safety is. A lot of community members believe that Chevron is an unsafe place – but we have found that not to be the case. Why would anyone work in a place that is jeopardizing your life? Without Chevron, Richmond wouldn’t be Richmond.
*Applications are available from the Laborers Union office in Richmond which is located at 101 S. 12th Street. You can also call the Laborers Apprenticeship Department at 925-556-0858. The Laborers Union is also participating in a Trades Day on April 5 from 10:00 am.m to 1:00 p.m. at the Richmond Civic Center, 440 Civic Center Plaza. This will be an opportunity to learn about opportunities related to the Richmond Refinery Modernization Project.