On The Job

On the Job with Mark Curtis - He's a Union Painter

WESTON, WV (WOWK) - "I'm ready! Go for it! Yeah, I got to get those bolts covered. I already got a big drip coming down here. That's not good," said apprentice painter Mark Curtis

Welcome to my first day and an industrial painter. I'm at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 53 in Weston. But before I paint there is a lot of classroom stuff to go over and learn.

"These are actually sand blast nozzles, these are what the sand comes out of," said Dave Barker, the Apprentice Painter Instructor.

"So for safety and a lot of reasons these gauges are important for air pressure, so you don't get hurt?" asked Mark Curtis.

"Different coatings require different roughness," said Apprentice Instructor Barker.

"So a good paint job can make a bridge last a long time," asked painter apprentice Curtis.

"Wes, if it's done right, 15 - 20 years easily," said Instructor Barker.

From apprentice to journeyman, it's a real commitment.

"It's a 3-year program, a minimum of 432 hours and 6,000 hours on the job," Tony Phillips, IUPAT Local 53

I'm learning to be a union painter, because West Virginia will need thousands of them. First the passage of the billion dollar road bond, means lots of bridge painting. And then there are all the oil and gas pipelines being built.

"Yeah it should be a good opportunity for them especially with the work were going to have over the next few years. They get in, they get to learn a trade. And that way they're using their hands and they're doing something that is going to help everybody," said Tony Phillips, of the International Union Painters and Allied Trades, District Council 53.

The union would like to attract most of the apprentice painters from West Virginia and surrounding states.

"Well one of the main benefits is being able to get local workers to perform the local jobs. Be part of the community and keep the dollars generated by state taxpayer money in the community," said Dan Polin, Business Manager of IUPAT District Council 53.

My next lesson is painting bolts and welds. These are vulnerable spots where rust can form.

"This is known as the stripe coat. And the reason being, even if a little bit of rust gets in these cracks and crevices, it can spread like cancer," inquired reporter Mark Curtis.

"This is like my space suit here. I put my head up in there," said reporter Curtis as he dressed in the protective suit.

And now it's time for the spray coating. And to the check the thickness or mileage of the paint. My aim is not the best.

"Don't let me paint your house. I'm not that good at this yet," Curtis said.

"All right so I've learned to be a bridge painter. I've been a crane operator. If there is something you'd like to see me do, contact this television station and have them put me 'on the job!'" said 13 News reporter Mark Curtis.

For more information on this and other apprentice programs in West Virginia go to: http://wvapprenticeships.com/

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