An active partnership between SECRC Alabama Local 1209 and the Muscle Shoals Career Academy is producing a steady stream of new union carpenter apprentices. Alabama Local 1209 Council Representative Jeff Tucker and Training Instructor Donny Williams team with Muscle Shoals’ carpentry instructor James Miller to frequently speak with students and talk with them about the benefits of being a union carpenter.
“The carpenters’ union reps are amazing,” Miller said. “They visit and talk to the students and fill in the gaps that I am not sure of. The students really like the idea of the reps helping them see what their options are upon graduation.”
“Mr. Miller has been instrumental in establishing his school’s relationship with Local 1209,” said Tucker. “In fact, Mr. Miller has played a large role in helping dozens of students launch their union carpentry career, including his own son.”
Miller, a third-generation carpenter, said he feels the carpenters’ union is a good career path for the younger generation. “Most students don't know about the carpenters’ union and the benefits of it. When I was younger, I knew it was there but had no idea how to get into it. I don't want that to happen to my students. It's my job to make sure they know what is out there and have access to it if I can make it possible,” Miller said.
Outside of the classroom, Miller takes his love of carpentry and helping students into the community. For more than 20 years, his own small construction business employs high school students on the weekends and during the summers to introduce them to the trade and help prepare them for a future in it.
“It's a lot of fun and very rewarding to see some of my past students and hear their stories about what they have done after graduation and about working in the trade,” Miller added, estimating that he has introduced about 200 students to the carpentry trade.
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