Veterans make up about 5% of Minnesota’s workforce, but in the state’s construction industry, that number’s nearly doubled. Why? Both require physical and mental toughness, hard work, and working as a team. Plus, programs like Helmets to Hardhats are designed to help transition veterans into the industry by connecting them to training opportunities and helping translate existing skills to the construction field.
And for members like Dave Bice, the benefits are clear. Dave joined the United States Marine Corps after high school, serving his country for three years. “Joining the Marines turned my life around,” he said. Dave then took his skills to the trades, introduced to the field by the ironworkers in his family, including his grandfather. He worked his way up from permithand to now owning Bald Eagle Erectors, a steel erector company he started in 1994.
Through it all, he’s been a proud member of Ironworkers Local 512 for the past 38 years. He said his favorite parts about union life are the benefits and annuities, and he’s seen that the unions really take care of their workers. That’s why Dave’s proud that his company Bald Eagle Erectors is a union shop under Local 512. And when he’s not hard at work, he’s busy recruiting within the Native community, and working with the American Indian Chamber of Commerce and Tiwahe Foundation.
Dave’s a testament to the power of veterans during their service and beyond, and construction unions can provide community and support during the transition back to civilian life. And with no-cost apprenticeships that still qualify veterans for the GI Bill, unions provide a high quality of life and rewarding career options to returning servicemembers.
Making that connection is why programs like Helmets to Hardhats exist. With a natural connection between the two fields and a community of support in the union, Helmets to Hardhats helps veterans get back to work and find the support they need in returning to civilian life.
Today and every day, we thank Dave, our union members and all veterans for their bravery and service.