Machinists Apprenticeship Looks to Grow


Juan Negron, Chief of Staff for the Machinists Union Eastern Territory, explains the benefits of unionized employment to aspiring apprentices.


In 2016, the Consortium for Worker Education partnered with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) to create a new diesel engine mechanics apprenticeship program, the first of its kind in New York in thirty years. Now, the first class of apprentices has become full journey-level workers at New York logistics corporations, and the program is recruiting new young workers and companies to participate.
For CWE, it is proof that the apprentice model can still make good jobs a reality for working-class New Yorkers.
“Apprenticeships are part of the future and we will be expanding,” says John McDermott, Director of Special Projects at the Consortium for Worker Education. “At a time of growing income inequality and increasing numbers of jobs requiring a college degree, apprenticeships provide an alternate pathway to the middle class.”
The New York Mechanic's Apprenticeship Program (NYMAP) is just one program in the larger New York Alliance for Transport and Logistics Advancement Services (NYATLAS) initiative, funded by the JP Morgan Chase Foundation and administered by CWE. NYATLAS seeks to create permanent career tracks for youth in the Bronx, where residents 18-24 years old have a 25% unemployment rate.
CWE has always operated at the nexus between the needs of workers and the industries they work in, so the apprenticeship program was a perfect fit. Machinists Union members were retiring from major trucking companies, like UPS, Penske, and Ryder without a steady stream of new workers to fill the skilled positions. These positions offer job security, excellent wages, and family sustaining health and pension benefits. 
When they become apprentices, the learning is just beginning. Apprentices gain experience in the trade alongside other union members, while continuing to take classes at Bronx Community College and earning more industry credentials. They also receive college credits from the City University of New York for their participation.
In September, CWE began recruitment of a new class of apprentices. The program is also adding new employer partners. At an employers’ conference at Bronx Community College, companies from the transportation sector had the opportunity to meet graduates and recruit apprentices, both from the mechanics apprenticeship program and a separate Commercial Driver’s License training course. As needed, CWE will design new courses specially for employers seeking to hire young workers for careers.
With the first class of mechanic apprentices having graduated early, and now working as full journey-level workers, the program is now open for new recruits. Those interested who are between the ages of 18 and 24 can apply at