Jerry Blake: 4th Year Apprentice
“My first job out of high school was as a nonunion residential electrician. I took a chance and really liked it. I did that for three years, which built a foundation for commercial
work. I started the union apprenticeship at the beginning to learn as much as I could.
“The biggest thing I like coming from the residential side has been learning to bend pipe – it’s really upped my game. I also love being able to solve problems, seeing a job through from beginning to the end, and the craftsmanship of everyone in the union.
“Working on the JATC, I’ve been able to see all aspects of the job. It’s pretty cool that years down the line, I’ll be able to come back and see the work I’ve done. It means a lot to build the JATC the way we want. I feel really fortunate.
“With the union, there’s trust, and you meet a lot of like-minded people who are bettering themselves and are there for each other. We share the same interests of striving for more, learning new things, and perfecting our work.
“In my time off, I wrench on my motorcycles. I’ve been racing dirt bikes since I was four. I have a daughter who’s three, a son who’s 10, and my wife Alicia. We like to go fishing, camping, and got the whole family riding dirt bikes. Pretty soon, we’re going to need a bigger garage.”
Daniel Landeros: Journeyman
“I was working dead-end, warehouse-type jobs before I got into the trades. I was working at a lighting company, and I’d see the electricians and was intrigued with the work. I got into an apprenticeship and started out nonunion for five years. But I got tired of the dog-eat-dog nonunion world.
“I have a brother and some friends who are in trade unions, and they encouraged me to join. I applied and got accepted, and it’s the best decision I ever made. I like the camaraderie, the morale is upbeat and positive, and people are supportive of each other. Most of all, no one cuts corners, and the craftsmanship is really clean.
“The best part about being an electrician is the feeling of accomplishment that you have when you’re on a job from start to finish. In a union shop, you know all the work is done correctly, and everything you’ve touched is good. You’re building something that’s going to be occupied by people, and you can drive by and tell everyone, ‘I built that.’
“My only regret is not joining the union sooner. My message to nonunion workers out there is that you can better yourself with the union. Don’t be scared to try something brand new and challenge yourself.”
Donovan Grant: 4th Year Apprentice
“I was going to college and working for a general remodeling contractor. There, I was a jack of all trades, but I gravitated towards electricity. I did some research and found the union. I applied and was happy to get in.
“With electricity, there’s a risk factor, and you gotta take the work seriously. You use your mind, not just your body. It comes easy to me, though it’s definitely a difficult trade. I love working on transformers, panels, and running pipe, and my favorite parts are the switch gears and the one line. Most of all, I love getting my hands on the prints: I’m all over that!
“The union is great, there’s camaraderie, and no one is hoarding knowledge. Everyone is looking to show you things along the way and light a fire underneath you if you need it.
“It’s inspirational working on the JATC and investing in our knowledge. It’s a huge school, the site is coming together, and I’m looking forward to going to class in the new building next semester. Maybe one day I’ll have kids, and I’ll drive by with them to show them how I help build something that’s going to help generations to come.”