Skip to main content

Former Afghan Pilots, Asylum Seekers, Lewiston High School Alumni & Former Little Dog Workers Graduate Union Construction Academy in Lewiston

Andy O’Brien
Social share icons

The Maine AFL-CIO's Union Construction Academy of Maine (UCA) graduated its second cohort of thirteen pre-apprentices at a graduation ceremony on Thursday at MaineMILL (Museum of Industry, Learning, and Labor). The ceremony was held against the fitting backdrop of an exhibit featuring the history of immigrants’ contributions to Maine’s workforce and industry.

The cohort included recent graduates from Lewiston High School, seven former Afghan Air Force pilots who worked with the US military and have settled as refugees in Maine, asylum seekers from Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and former employees of the Little Dog coffee shop in Brunswick, which recentlyclosed in the middle of a strike.

The Union Construction Academy of Maine is a free, four-week registered pre-apprentice program run by the Maine AFL-CIO, Maine Building Trades Council and the New England Laborers Training Academy designed specifically to prepare a diverse workforce from underrepresented populations to graduate into union registered apprenticeship programs as union carpenters, electricians, elevator constructors, ironworkers, insulators, laborers, millwrights, plumbers and pipefitters, sheet metal workers, and more. The program prepares workers to succeed in registered apprenticeship programs and to build a family sustaining careers. UCA instructors are currently helping graduates complete applications and enter apprenticeships.

Many of the participants in this cohort came straight from working the night shift in other jobs and participated fully in the four week pre-apprenticeship program. Graduates are currently working to apply and join registered apprenticeship programs with Maine's Building Trades unions. We were joined at the graduation by Maine Commissioner of Labor Laura Fortman, Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline and multiple state legislators.