CISCO Partners with Chicago Police and Fire Departments for Union Trades Fair

CISCO Partners with Chicago Police and Fire Departments for Union Trades Fair

Oct. 24, 2022

CHICAGO – When Chicago Police office Veronica Meraz received an invitation from CISCO to attend its inaugural July 22 Hands-On Trades Fair, held at the Chicago-based IBEW Local 134, she assumed it would have an impact on the young adults she brought along – but didn’t realize the impact it would have on HER.

Union Trades Fair

After seeing hundreds of people having conversations with Union representatives regarding how to apply for a Union construction apprenticeship program, Meraz said she was, “blown away.”

“It was an amazing opportunity to see alternatives to office jobs or corporate jobs – which are not for everyone. Some people are just better with their hands,” she explained.

The young adults Meraz brought with her were participants of One Summer Chicago, a 6-week summer program that allows Chicago individuals, aged 14-26, to have employment and internship opportunities with government institutions, community-based organizations and companies – all while getting paid.

Union Trades Fair

Through the program, young adults who choose to work with the Chicago Police Department shadow officers at the city’s various 22 police districts, learning the work environment and interacting with the community. At the police department, Meraz is a Domestic Violence Liaison Officer and Senior Liaison.

Even though the CISCO-sponsored Trades Fair was held July 22 – and nearing the end of One Summer Chicago program, Meraz made sure to have free time available for the youth working the program at District 1 – Central Police Department to attend. Because the young adults she brought were either 16- or 17-years old, and still trying to figure out what they want to do, Meraz used the Trades Fair to open their eyes to alternative career options.

“They were vary curious and asked questions. I wanted them to understand they don’t need a 4-year degree and college debt just to have a successful career. If they are more into having a hands-on job and working outside, then a job in the trades might be something for them,” Meraz added.

She was so impressed with the turnout at the July 22 Hands-On Trades Fair and the impact it had on herself and the young adults she brought with, she decided to partner with CISCO, the Chicago Fire Department and the Chicago Police Department, to have a Union Trades Fair Sept. 28 at Chicago’s District 1 – Central Police Department.

Union Trades Fair

Chicago Police Department Domestic Violence Liaison Officer and Senior Liaison Veronica Meraz explains the Carpenters Union apprenticeship process to three young men who visited the Sept. 28 Hands-On Union’s Fair, which included construction Unions, and the Chicago Police and Fire Departments. Photo courtesy of CISCO

During the event, Meraz accompanied three Hispanic men as they toured various Union trades booths and interpreted from English to Spanish for them. The meeting proved successful as one of the men reached out to Meraz shortly after the Trades Fair with additional questions. “I connected him with the right people for further information. I’m making sure I don’t lose touch with him.” For this reason, she is committed to having another Trades Fair next year. “This is definitely not going to be a one-time deal,” she added.

Meraz understands the Chicago Fire and Police Departments are not construction trades, but she teaches the youth she mentors to consider ALL Union careers a Brotherhood/Sisterhood. CISCO Executive Director Dan Allen agrees with her.

“Helping to recruit local firefighters and police officers to keep communities safe is the mission of Unions and signatory contractors,” Allen explained.

An example of this is Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) goal in supporting career-oriented opportunities to help youth develop transferable skills to increase employability through job readiness training. It also provides them with guidance, training and supervision.

“The police have always worked with young people to help in finding them career opportunities. CISCO looks forward to future partnerships with both the police and fire departments as we all work together to find young people careers in the Union construction industry,” Allen said.

Union Trades Fair

A participant, left, at the Sept. 28 Hands-On Union Fair talks about the benefits available for a Union Plumber with the Chicago-based Local 130 UA Training Coordinator Brian Andersen. Photo courtesy of CISCO

Meraz is already looking forward to CISCO’S 2023 Hands-On Trades Fair. If possible, she would like to see it occur in early July, shortly after the start of the city’s One Summer Chicago program. That way, she could get more young adults to attend from all the city’s 22 police districts.

“Most of the young adults in the One Summer Chicago program don’t know what a job or trades fair is, and haven’t gone to one,” Meraz said. “What I witnessed at the CISCO Hands-On Trades Fair was everything I was hoping it would be.

Police Fire and Union Trades Fair

A participant at the Sept. 28 Hands-On Trades Fair left photo, leaves his contact information to learn more about the City of Chicago Police Department careers. IBEW Local 134 Vice President and CISCO Board Member Maurice King, middle photo, discusses various electrical careers with a participant. CISCO’s Education-to-Careers Director Jamillah Muhammad, right photo, tells a participant about various Union construction trades a participant might be interested in. Photos courtesy of CISCO

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Another CISCO Partner Success Story

Another CISCO Partner Success Story

Oct. 19, 2022

VILLA PARK – On Oct. 5, CISCO partnered with the Villa Park-based Resilient Project UPSTART, a non-profit organization providing non-college bound students with the knowledge and skills to enter an apprenticeship program in the Union building construction trades, and participated in its annual Trades Awareness Fair.

Union Construction Trades Fair

When a Forest Park-based Ironworkers Local 1 retiree and his son stop by CISCO’s booth during the Trades Awareness Fair, CISCO’s Education-to-Careers Director Jamillah Muhammad has an opportunity to discuss the apprenticeship process of various construction trades. Photo courtesy of CISCO

More than 20 contractor and Union trades used the time at the event to educate students and adults how to apply for an apprenticeship program and the benefits of a career in the building construction trades. Last year, Sal Torres, 20, participated in Project UPSTART, learning the skills he needed to apply for an apprenticeship with the Carpenters. He currently is employed with Executive Construction as a first-year apprentice.

Union construction trades fair

Project UPSTART graduate Sal Torres, 20, right, currently works for Executive Construction as a first-year Carpenters apprentice. Torres, is pictured with Executive Construction employees – including Chairman John Blacketor, left, who calls Torres a “rockstar,” saying he’s never missed a single day. Photo courtesy of CISCO

Executive Construction Chairman John Blacketor said Torres is an amazing young man and excellent employee. “He has never missed a single day, is on time and is learning his skills at warp speed. He is a Rockstar,” Blacketor added. He also stressed that partner involvement – like CISCO, is critical to the success of the initiative.

“These events lead to more awareness throughout the communities and provide added exposure and benefit to our industry for years to come. We look forward to expanding on these efforts and to making a difference in the lives of those who are exposed this program.

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High School Students: Register for Nov. 16 Union Trades Fair

High School Students: Register for Nov. 16 Union Trades Fair

Oct. 14, 2022

BURR RIDGE – Register now for a unique opportunity to talk with various Chicagoland Union construction trades Nov. 16 at LiUNA Chicagoland Laborers’ District Council Training and Apprentice Fund. Learn how to start your career in the Union construction industry. Get hands-on experience from the building trades at their various booths and learn about their application deadlines. Click image below to register and details, or click HERE.

Date: Nov. 16, 2022
Time: 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Event: 2-Day Union Trades Fair – Nov. 16 is for HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
Location: LIUNA Chicagoland Laborers’ District Council Training and Apprentice Fund
Address: 5700 W. Homer St., Chicago

Click HERE for directions.

2 Day Union Trades Fair

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CISCO Accepting Applications for Annual Project of the Year

CISCO Accepting Applications for Annual Project of the Year

Oct. 3, 2022

CISCO's Pride in Construction

BURR RIDGE – CISCO’S Project of the Year Award is kicking off its 18th year of accepting applications for some of the best construction projects of the past 18 months, through May 2021 – December 2022.

The award gives general contractors, owners, engineers and architects a chance to submit projects in six (6) different categories, which include the areas of new construction, renovation/rehabilitation, residential construction and infrastructure.

The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. Friday, December 2, 2022. For more information, contact CISCO’S Director of Communications and Public Affairs Director Jennifer Rice, at 630-472-9411 or via email at: jennifer@cisco.org.

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CISCO’s 2022 Annual Golf Outing

CISCO’s 2022 Annual Golf Outing

Sept. 16, 2022

CISCO Golf Outing

Rain and chilly weather didn’t keep away golfers during its annual golf outing, held Sept. 12 at the Bloomingdale Golf Club. Photo courtesy of CISCO

CISCO Golf Outing

Even though it was cold and rainy Sept. 12, CISCO’s 101 golfers started lining up for registration. Hot coffee was waiting for them at the next table. Photo courtesy of CISCO

BLOOMINGDALE – It didn’t matter that it rained, or the sun wasn’t out. It didn’t even matter that some golfers had to trade their golf shirts and shorts for work hoodies and rain pants. What mattered was the Union construction industry, and our many associate members, were all determined to support CISCO’s fundraising efforts for its annual golf outing, held Sept. 12 at the Bloomingdale Golf Club.

Even though morning temperatures hovered in the 50’s, and a consistent misting of rain saturated the course and golfers, 101 golfers braved the inclement weather to make the best of the day, and have a chance to win some great raffle prizes, with proceeds benefitting the Chicago-based Gateway to Learning, an organization that provides lifelong learning for adults with intellectual challenges and developmental disabilities while promoting active inclusion at home, at work, and in the community.

After notifying golfers that the course was draining well from the rain that fell the day before, golf started promptly at 8 a.m. And even though temperatures were in the mid-50’s, golfers quickly started to warm up after a few holes of golf.

Lunch started a little earlier than in years past, but it allowed golfers to warm up sooner than expected. It also gave them an opportunity to view the many raffle items CISCO had available, with proceeds benefiting Gateway to Learning.

CISCO Golf Outing

With the help of some swag bags from Vogelzang Law, some golfers found a creative way to stay dry. Photo courtesy of CISCO

CISCO’s relationship with Gateway to Learning stared during the pandemic, when staff and participants were struggling to communicate and stay connected with on-line communication. Union contractors and skilled Union trades men and women rose to the call-of-duty and updated the organization’s aging building with Internet, plumbing and electric – all on a shoestring budget. CISCO’s Executive Director Dan Allen, also a Gateway to Learning board member, recounted how happy parents were to know their sons and daughters would be able to continue with their programs during COVID.

“These parents were so emotional because they understood and appreciated the commitment the Union contractors and Union tradespersons demonstrated – you literally changed lives with the upgrade you provided at their building,” Allen explained. “Everyone here put their heart and soul into changing the lives of these families.”

See below for pictures from our golf outing

CISCO golf outing

CISCO golf outing

CISCO golf outing

CISCO golf outing

CISCO golf outing

CISCO golf outing

CISCO golf outing

CISCO golf outing

CISCO golf outing

CISCO Golf Outing

CISCO golf outing

A special THANK YOU to all our generous sponsors who make this possible!

CISCO Golf Outing

CISCO Golf Outing

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Stepping up When Opportunity Knocks

Stepping up When Opportunity Knocks

Aug. 18, 2022

CHICAGO – For the past eight years, CISCO has partnered with a church on Chicago’s South Side to promote careers in the building construction trades to young men and women with a hands-on trades fair. The church then offers a free, 12-week pre-apprenticeship training program as a way to best prepare these men and women when it comes time to apply for a construction apprenticeship program. 

CISCO Trades Fair

CISCO Executive Director Dan Allen said over the years, many seeds of hope have been planted at the Expo, allowing many men and women the opportunity to become aware of a successful career in the construction trades. Photo courtesy of CISCO

“CISCO’s Education-to-Careers program is humbled to have helped so many young people obtain careers in the various Union trades,” CISCO Executive Director Dan Allen told guests. “The collaboration of Union contractors and the building trades is vital to attracting the next generation of skilled men and women into our industry – which is our life blood.”

The annual Construction Conference & Expo, held at St. Paul Church of God in Christ, brings Union representatives from numerous construction trades together, allowing them to discuss with the public their specific requirements to enter into their apprenticeship programs, along with the benefits of a career that offers competitive pay, pensions and health care. 

Many of the Unions, like the bricklayers, carpenters and trowel trades, allowed the public to perform hands-on work, such as laying brick and measuring and cutting wood to certain specifications. At this year’s Expo, two Union representatives the Bricklayers Local 21, representing the Administrative District Council 1 of Illinois Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, had both gone through St. Paul’s pre-apprenticeship program years earlier.

Miles Afriyie, 22, and Eddie Martin, 37, both 2nd year apprentices, completed the pre-apprenticeship program in 2019 and 2020, respectively, and both said the program allowed them to be better prepared for their apprenticeship exam.

“Honestly, [St. Paul] is the one that got me to where I am right now,” Afriyie explained. “They told me everything I needed to do, which translated into my apprenticeship program, which translated into me working.”

Afriyie’s training and talent has qualified him to compete next month in Boston at the 2022 BAC/IMI International Apprentice Contest after placing 4th in July’s regional North Central Apprentice Contest where contestants were given a blueprint and allowed four hours to build. They were given a combined score on their masonry skills and written test.

CISCO Trades Fair

Second year bricklayer apprentice Miles Afriyie is pictured competing at the regional level of the North Central Apprentice Contest where he placed 4th, allowing him to move on to Boston next month to compete at the 2022 BAC/IMI International Apprentice Contest. He’ll be keeping his eye on the little details, which judges told him are important and can mean the difference between 1st and 2nd place. Photo courtesy of International Masonry Institute

Martin had always wanted to work in construction, but didn’t know how to apply for a trade. Walking around the Expo in 2020 and listening to what different Unions had to offer opened his eyes to the work they perform and what qualifications are needed to apply.

“I always had a passion to build things, and now I get to step back and actually see what I built, and I can show my family. It’s something I can be proud of,” Martin explained.

He wishes more organizations like CISCO and St. Paul would expose the Union construction trades to others, allowing people to understand there are other avenues besides college or starting work right away. “[College is just not for everybody. People need to know there are other options.”

CISCO Trades Fair

Pastor Kevin Anthony Ford, president of St. Paul Community Development Ministries (SPCDM), said his ministry’s pre-apprenticeship program and a career in the building construction trades allow men and women to stand toe-to-toe with opportunity.

Pastor Kevin Anthony Ford, president of St. Paul Community Development Ministries (SPCDM), said the annual Construction Conference & Expo, along with its pre-apprenticeship program, have open the doors of opportunity to allow men and women to walk through and secure a successful career in the building construction trades.

“I see a future for these men and women, and the future looks bright. We are the changemakers for them. We want to see the doors of opportunity open for anyone who desires to enter an apprenticeship program and make their way in the construction industry,” Pastor Ford said.

Ford would like young people to understand that – with the help of a career in a Union, it will allow them opportunities and hope – as long as they have the catalysts in place, like the recent trades fair, to put them in a position to create wealth and later, generational wealth.

CISCO Trades Fair

Miles Afriyie, kneeling left, and Eddie Martin, right, both apprentice bricklayers with Local 21, show guests at the Aug. 18 St. Paul Construction and Conference Expo the proper technique to apply mortar to brick. Photo courtesy of CISCO

CISCO Trades Fair

A Union rep from Pipefitters Local 597 discusses with a man how pipefitters lay piping systems for installation and assembling equipment. Photo courtesy of CISCO

CISCO Trades Fair

After listening to instructions, this woman uses what she learned and applies it to the task at hand. Many of the Unions present at the Trades Fair allowed guests to get hands-on experience for a true understanding of the work and skill level involved. Photo courtesy of CISCO

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CISCO Annual Golf Outing

Spots are filling up for CISCO’s Annual Golf Outing, which is set for Monday, Sept. 12, 2022 at the Bloomingdale Golf Club. Get all the info you need below.

Click HERE to print 1st page.

Click HERE to click 2nd page.

CISCO Annual Golf OutingCISCO Annual Golf Outing

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CISCO Holds Inaugural Hands-On Trades Fair

CISCO Holds Inaugural Hands-On Trades Fair

July 27, 2022

CHICAGO – Like any parent, all you want for your children is a better life than you have. After visiting the July 22 Hands-On Trades Fair at the Chicago-based IBEW Local 134, Tony Dix feels confident his son Logan Skinner will have a successful career in the Union building construction trades.

At the Trades Fair, Dix shadowed his 18-year-old son as he went from booth-to-booth and gathered information about each trade. Afterwards, Dix said he got “goosebumps” thinking of the opportunities his son could have.

“I’m relieved to hear he can retire at a young age with a good pension and proud to think my son could actually work on projects such as the Barack Obama Presidential Center – that’s an amazing opportunity and legacy for him. With a Union job, he’ll also be able to give back. I wish they had something like this [Trades Fair] when I was young, when I was deciding what to do with my life,” Dix said.

Hands-On Trades Fair

Logan Skinner and his father Tony Dix take time for a photo outside Powering Chicago’s new field trip truck, which allows guests to learn about electrical distribution and careers in the electrical field. Dix left the Trades Fair confident his son can have a successful career in the building trades and retire with a pension. Photo courtesy of CISCO

Even though he’s retired from the Chicago Police Department, Dix joked that even he may apply as an apprentice for one of the trades.

This inaugural event, sponsored by CISCO, IBEW Local 134 and the Chicago and Cook County Building and Construction Trades Council was a huge success, with nearly 300 people attending. The event showcased CISCO’s collaboration, which included numerous workforce partners, contractors and 13 Union building trades, who all came together to help young people find their career path in the Union building construction industry.

Most Union and workforce vendors were inside IBEW Local 34, but a handful of Unions had hands-on booths set up in the parking lot – like the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers District Council 1 of Illinois. They described to guests the process of applying mortar to bricks, and the proper way to add the brick to an existing wall. After hearing the instructions, people got to apply what they learned and do it themselves.

The event also provided 175 backpacks filled with school supplies for children K-12, made possible with generous donations by 14 various Unions and Union affiliates. Backpacks not distributed during the event were donated to the Chicago-based Centers for New Horizons and the Chicago Police Department’s Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS).

Building Trades Expo

Before heading home, a young CPS student, right, picks out her backpack to use for the upcoming school year. Photo courtesy of CISCO

This Hands-On Trades Fair was spearheaded by CISCO’s Education-to-Careers Director Jamillah Muhammad, a 14-year journeywoman with the IBEW. CISCO Executive Director Dan Allen acknowledged that Muhammad efforts connecting with the community is advancing the building construction trades industry for young people – which was evident with the large amount of attendees.

When speaking at the event, Allen reminded everyone why a career in the Union building construction trades industry is the right choice. “You will earn while you learn, have no college debt and be the next generation to build the amazing buildings you see in Chicago,” he explained.

Muhammad added that college isn’t for everyone because people may have a skill set that allows them to work better with their hands – rather than behind a desk. “You don’t need a college education and tons of debt to get into the trades,” she said. “I’ve had a very successful career and was able to move up the ladder. While you’re [at the Trades Fair] learn as much as you can about the various application processes. Each trade has their own personality and I know you’ll find where you belong.”

Building Trades Expo

Inside Powering Chicago’s new field trip truck, top photo, Notre Dame College Prep student Anthony Luisi listens to the various opportunities available to him with a career as a Union electrician. Luisi, bottom photo, said the Trades Fair gave him a chance to understand and talk to a bunch of trades at once, something he hadn’t done before. Photo courtesy of CISCO

Another Trades Fair attendee, Anthony Luisi, brought his parents along with him. Luisi’s parents were proud to say he’s a straight A student at the Niles-based Notre Dame College Prep and is interested in a career as an electrician. Luisi spent time inside Powering Chicago’s new field trip truck listening to their representative describe the different career paths he can take, such as installing and upgrading charging stations for electric cars.

Teenagers weren’t the only attendees to the Trades Fair. Many adults visited who were seeking employment or looking to change careers. With the average age of an apprentice in the United States being 29, it’s never too late to consider a career in the Union building construction trades.

Many workforce affiliates were also on hand to help place individuals with permanent employment.

Building Trades Expo

Top photo: IUOE Local 150 used a training simulator to show what it may feel like to actually operate heavy machinery out in the field. Middle photo: Teamsters Joint Council 25 Training Fund contracts with L3Harris, who provided its virtual driving training simulator, allowing hands-on experiential training for commercial vehicle drivers, offering experience without risks to people or equipment. Bottom photo: A representative of the Chicagoland Roofers Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee discusses a career in roofing and water proofing to a CPS student during the July 22 Hands-On Trades Fair sponsored by CISCO, IBEW Local 134 and the Chicago and Cook County Building and Construction Trades Council. Photos courtesy of CISCO

Building Trades Expo

Left photo: After being taught how to apply mortar and lay brick, 18-year-old Haley Montemayor of Chicago tries the technique herself. Right photo: The Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council shows an attendee how to correctly measure to make the proper cut. Photos courtesy of CISCO

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CISCO Announces Scholarship Program Underway for 2022 Awards

CISCO Announces Scholarship Program Underway for 2022 Awards

CISCO has begun to accept applications for its long-standing Annual Scholarship Awards Program.  Applications for for this program are available by clicking on one of the three types of scholarship awards below. 

The three scholarship program categories are: 1) Four-year college scholarships for high school seniors; 2) Two-year awards for seniors planning on attending a community college; and 3) Two-year continuing education awards to union members or contractor employees.

For more information or questions, call CISCO at (630) 472-9411.

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CISCO Begins Accepting Applications for Annual Project of the Year Recognition Program

CISCO Begins Accepting Applications for Annual Project of the Year Recognition Program

CISCO’S Project of the Year Award is kicking off its 17th year of accepting applications for some of the best construction projects of the past 18 months. (May 2020 – December 2021)

The award gives general contractors, owners, engineers and architects a chance to submit projects in six different categories that include the areas of new construction, renovation/rehabilitation, residential construction and infrastructure.

The deadline for applications is 5:00 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. For more information, contact Gary Karafiat, Director of Communications & Public Affairs at 630.472.9411 or via email: gary@cisco.org.

To download and print the application, click here.

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