More millennials joining local labor unions
Labor Day is about honoring the American worker. According to the Pew Research Center, Millennials — ages 18 to 34 — are now the largest generation in the workforce.
Doug Wallace, 22, is a proud member of the Iron Workers Union. Right now, he’s studying as an apprentice at Local 782 in Paducah, learning the ins and outs of the steel industry. It’s his fourth and final year in the program. Before joining, Wallace did non-union work for two years.
"The union, to me, is a lot better," says Wallace. "It helps a person out, and you’re a whole lot safer there."
Iron Workers Local 782 Business Agent Philip Orr says work is peaking, and a lot of millennials are joining the Iron Workers apprenticeship program.
"Our membership feels like it’s busting at the seems," says Orr.
In the last three years, Orr says the program has nearly doubled in size, and their current training facility isn’t big enough. He says they’re building an 8,000-square-foot expansion across the street.
"You have more opportunities here," says Wallace.
Wallace says the Iron Workers are like one big family.
On Monday, Wallace and the other members walked in Paducah’s Labor Day parade as a thank you to the union members who came before them.