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Before joining our Access United training program, Dionte George was working in manufacturing as a machine operator. Now, he is working full-time with a contractor, preparing to join the apprenticeship program at IBEW Local 134 in Chicago.

After completing the apprenticeship program, IBEW Local 134 journeymen can earn more than $47 per hour. Dionte is on his way to making a living wage with a career in the trades and now has a wealth of opportunities available to him. He and his father, a union carpenter, are currently discussing working on a few renovation projects together once Dionte is finished with his training.

I do what I do because of people like Dionte.

United Way of Metro Chicago and our labor partners are working to increase the number of qualified minority applicants for these and other opportunities by providing the information, guidance and resources needed to compete for and succeed in an apprenticeship program.

I started my career as a workforce development specialist where I saw firsthand the impact a good job can have on a person, their family, and their community. One thing I know is the best of those jobs are good union jobs, but I also know that for many reasons, not every person has access to a union job.

When I think about good jobs, I think about the 8-hour day and the weekend – all things that workers fought hard for at the turn of the century. I think about the workplace health and safety standards we’ve been able to implement over the years. the era of #MeToo, United Way and labor are working together to create workplaces that are safe and free from harassment for all. Every day we are moving closer to ensuring that workers have dignity and safety on the job.

Every Labor Day, we celebrate the people who bring our neighborhoods and communities to life, and those who have fought for safety and dignity on the job: teachers, utility workers, the servers and dishwashers at the local diner, the housekeeping crews at hotels, healthcare workers taking care of a sick family member, bus drivers, and more. These workers keep our streets safe, educate our children and feed our families; their jobs are the source of financial security and provide workers the opportunity to live a decent life.

United Ways across the country fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. I’m proud to work with United Way and the labor community here in Chicago (including the Chicago Federation of Labor, the Cook County Building and Construction Trades Coalition, and the Construction Industry Services Corporation) to help people like Dionte get the training they need to change their life. We all have a role to play.

Inspired by what you read? Change starts with you. Take action today to make a difference in your community.

GIVEADVOCATEVOLUNTEER