Julian Rucker (right), an ironworker with Local 378 (Oakland, Calif.), shows Uriel Garcia, a junior at Napa High, how to cut steel (PHOTO BY RICHARD BAMMER — THE REPORTER)
By Richard Bammer, The Reporter, Vacaville — Forrest Blue, a junior at Vintage High in Napa, sat astride a yellow-painted, pint-sized hydraulic shovel-excavator, using a stubby control stick to move the boom, arm and bucket, tentatively at best, as Steve Lewis, a member of Local 3 of the Operating Engineers union, looked on.
Just a few steps away and wearing a black welder’s protective face shield, Uriel Garcia, a junior at Napa High, listened and watched as Julian Rucker, a member of Local 378 of the Iron Workers union, showed him how to cut a piece of steel with an oxygen-acetylene torch.
Hot sparks flying occasionally, school — with the nearby steady, brittle thrum of Interstate 80 traffic in their ears — was in session, specifically a glimpse of the construction trades and, perhaps, a career technical education career path for Blue and Garcia.
The students and adults were part of the North Bay Apprenticeship Coordinators Association’s Hands-on Construction Career Fair, held Friday morning and early afternoon at Local 104 of Sheet Metal Workers union’s training center at 4350 Central Place, off Pittman Road, in Fairfield.
Some 800 students from the surrounding region, including dozens from Vacaville Unified, and several dozens adults, including vendors from 16 different construction trades, attended, noted Danny Bernardini, business manager of the Napa-Solano Building & Construction Trades Council in Fairfield. Besides operating engineers and iron workers, among the trades and representatives on hand were bricklayers and carpenters, glaziers and laborers, sheet metal workers and painters, plumbers and electricians.
Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Solano, spoke to the students during lunch, and Lisette Estrella-Henderson, superintendent of the Solano County Office of Education, also visited the fair, which began at 8:30 a.m. The SCOE, Kaiser Permanente, Locals 751 and 180 of the Carpenters Union, Local 3 of the Bricklayers Union, and the Napa-Solano Building & Construction Trades Council were among the major sponsors of the educational fair.
Following Rucker’s example, Garcia, standing outside the training center building, just a stone’s throw from I-80, cut some steel with the torch and, afterward, said he was interested in joining a construction union.