Building for the Children

Published 9:44 am Tuesday, September 1, 2009

BURLINGTON — “This is just a token of our appreciation to the South Point schools for allowing us to build the buildings in their system.”

That quote, from Tri-State Building Trades union representative Steve Burton, was in reference to the free work many local union workers recently provided en route to erecting playground equipment at the new South Point and Burlington elementary schools.

“They needed playground equipment installed and we volunteered to do it,” Burton said matter-of-factly. “We saw a need and told Mr. (Superintendent Ken) Cook we would help him.”

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Tri-State Building Trades, which is located in Ashland, represents 14 different trade unions in the local area. “We represent construction workers in 33 counties in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio,” Burton said, adding that the organization has been in place for 35 years.

Those trade unions include IBEW 317, Ironworkers Local 769, Bricklayers Local 7, Sheetmetal Workers Local 24, Laborers Local 1445, Asbestos Workers Local 80 and Carpenter’s Local 437 among others.

“Those are just some of the locals that participated in installing the playground equipment,” Burton said, noting that some of the workers volunteered on their days off while others are temporarily laid off and showed up every day to help.

“We averaged about 15 to 20 workers a day,” he said, adding that most of the volunteers had no ties to the South Point school district.

“Some of these workers had absolutely no reason to be here other than just to jump in and help. They are just doing their part as members of the local community.”

Burton credited co-worker Mark Johnson with organizing the unsolicited effort. “Mark has been there every day,” Burton said. “He’s the one who put this all together and made it work.”