New construction is booming across the Greater Lehigh Valley, and union carpenters are a big part of the growth.
By Kevin Lott, NRCC Local 167 Council Representative
The Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters represents nearly 40,000 men and women throughout Delaware and New Jersey, plus regions in Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland, making it one of the largest trade unions on the East Coast.
Local 167 has about 1,400 active members with about a third working in the Greater Lehigh Valley.
Among the jobs underway or completed:
The Fed Ex Distribution Center in Allen Township, which will be the largest Fed Ex distribution center in the United States.
Hamilton Crossings in Lower Macungie Township, a shopping complex with nearly 560,000 square feet of retail space.
A number of renovations and additions to Lehigh Valley Health Network in Bethlehem.
An addition at the Lehigh Valley International Airport in Hanover Township, Lehigh County.
Construction of the $500-million plus Birdsboro Power Plant in Birdsboro,
The 12-story, $45 million Tower 6 building in downtown Allentown.
B. Braun Medical Inc. offices in Hanover Township, Northampton County.
Several school and bridge projects in the Lehigh Valley.
In the near future, carpenters also will be working on a number of other high-profile construction projects in the region, including:
The $75 million Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center project for Lafayette College in Easton.
Five City Center in downtown Allentown, a $300 million project that consists of several buildings, parking deck and concert venue.
A six-story office building at Third and New streets in Bethlehem.
Several school and bridge projects across the region.
RECRUITING SKILLED LABOR
While business is booming, carpenters are graying, as only about 12 percent of membership is under the age of 35.
As a result, there are a significant number of recruiting efforts underway to encourage millennials to join the carpentry workforce and forge a career that pays a good salary and health care and ensures that they have retirement funds.
Recruiting efforts in the Lehigh Valley include visiting high schools and vocational-technology schools and attending career fairs.
NEW TRAINING CENTER
Recently, the union invested millions of dollars in the development of a new Lehigh Valley Training Center in Allentown.
The center is fitted with technology equipment, such as a virtual welding machine, to give our carpenters access to the latest tools of the trade.
While many millennials are being pushed by parents and school guidance counselors to attend four-year colleges and universities, some millennials are realizing that a career in carpentry can provide them with the skills, training – not to mention no college debt – to set up themselves and their families for their future.
Kevin Lott is a council representative for Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters’ Local 167, Allentown. He can be reached at 610-866-3030.
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