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Blue Light Report - January / February 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I hope everyone had a great holiday season and a Merry Christmas. As seasons go, to me, winter is a time for reflection and a time to prepare for the upcoming spring and summer.

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Blue Light Report Dispatch - November / December 2019

I have been looking back over past Blue Light reports from 1974 to 1976, and I have found some very interesting information. I could copy and paste some of the 1974 reports, and you would not be able to tell the difference. The irony is unbelievable.

Whether 1975 or 2019, there is very little difference between then and now. In 1974, we were seven years down the road from the biggest year ever. In 1968 when we hit 12 million man-hours, then work began to drop off, just as it has in 2019. We went from 9.5 million man-hours in 1969 and dwindled to 3 million man-hours in 1974. Then Alaska kicked off and man-hours more than doubled with 6.3 million in 1975 and 7.9 million in 1976. I say this to remind everyone that the people who came before us did not have a bed of roses getting what they had and what they have provided for us. And if you think Local 798 did not have as many members as now, you are wrong! 

In January 1975, we had 2,322 Welders on the books (as compared to 2,433 now), and we had large numbers who were working building trades. We also had permit problems the previous year. A law to push through the Alaska pipeline was voted on November 12, 1973, by the House then also passed by the Senate. President Nixon signed it into law on November 16, 1973, and a federal right-of-way was granted on January 3, 1974. This was followed by contracts signed with the contractors for construction on January 23, 1974. From January through September of 2019, pipeline work alone has accumulated 5,574,294 man-hours. We need to remember that these are good times -- maybe not the best of times, but definitely not the worst of times. We do have opportunities! Pipeline work has always been political, and it is crucial for us to sign petitions on the Action Network for our future. 

There is an abundance of good-paying building trades jobs available with overtime involved until the pipeline picks up again. Come to the Local 798 Training Center and work on uphill welding. The more UA Certifications you have, the more you can pick and choose where you work and how much you make. Stainless Welders are at the top, then Combo Carb Welders, and at the bottom are straight-up Low Hydrogen Stick Welders. Another skill I see demand for is Schedule 10 Stainless Welders. 

Fifteen years ago, people could make a good living welding bell hole only. Beginning about 2007, you had to start taking a bell hole test and a branch. After the work in the Northeast grew big, you had to be able to make a downhill test set on a 45. After that, there was a major surge in the use of Low Hydrogen rods on our mainline work, and we had few people who were ready to test with Low Hydrogen. Now the number of Welders who are proficient in these types of welding are large and doing well. However, to be successful and excel in this industry, you need to add Heliarc welding to your skillset. Good jobs for good Heliarc Welders are available consistently. 

Local 798 has an excellent Training Center offering everything you need to learn. Training Director Farron Hollabaugh has added stalls to help handle the demand of members coming in. (Please place a courtesy call to the Training Center in advance.) I have heard people say that finding the funds for a room is a challenge. Young men are lined up to come to the private welding schools here in Tulsa, and it costs $25,000 right off the top to receive training. We have better facilities and equipment and more opportunities than the private schools ever will, and all you need to do is pay for your room and board. January 2, 2020 is an excellent time to get started on training. By the time you get this, Thanksgiving and Christmas will be upon us. There is still time to get to Tulsa and update certifications and get additional UA certifications. Plan to come to Tulsa and treat the Local 798 Training Center as a college. You can leave with skills that can never be taken from you. The big plus is that you can do it for far less than anyone attending one of these private welding schools or a junior college near your home. 

You should have your election ballot by now. Fill it out and get your vote in. Do not delay! Also, plan to attend the December meeting. There is always something to be learned.  

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!