One of the traits that a successful construction laborer must have is to be physically fit. The Curlew Job Corps construction crew has a rigorous physical training time each day to prepare students to be employable in this trade.
Is the construction trade just for men? “Absolutely, not!” says Marina P., a 2002 graduate from Western Washington. She adds, “I’ve worked for the same company since I graduated from the Curlew Job Corps Construction Craft Laborers Pre Apprenticeship Program. That was nine years ago. I’ve worked my way up through the company. My starting wage was just under $30 an hour. I have two kids. I’m a single mom and I just bought my first house. I wouldn’t be here without the training and support I received from the Curlew Job Corps.”
Two other young women, Laura H. and Kyndal S., recently graduated from Curlew Job Corps and will receive additional training and certifications at the Laborers’ Training Center, in Kingston, Washington, before being signed into the Seattle Local union. Laura says that she likes construction work because, “There is a wide variety of things to do. It’s never boring.” Laura, who was recruited by Darald Staley after she “washed out” at the Kingston Training Center because she couldn’t physically do the required tasks, admits that as a female in the trade the advantage is that there aren’t a lot of females to fill the jobs that are needed on union sites, but the downside is that you must work harder, because in her words, “On the job, men aren’t going to lift things for me. I have to prove I’m capable.” Laura has gained twenty-two pounds, quit smoking, can do sixty push ups and work an eight hour day. Kyndal, from Kettle Falls, Washington, says that past female graduates are her inspiration. “One of the women who graduated from this program is an instructor for the trade at the Corvallis, Oregon, Training Center.
Placing graduates is on the top of the list for instructors, Staley and Ruklic. “We just placed one graduate in Utah, and three in the Portland area. The construction industry is looking up. Portland and the Tri Cities are the hot spots. We are looking at placing all who graduate through our program.” reports instructor Staley.