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Paul Garner


I started working in a Union Sheet Metal shop in May 1998. Young and aimless, I only wanted to work for what provided for my family. It took time to show my value and see a value in the career the other employees were doing. And in making friends with my coworkers, I was guided into a Union apprenticeship. Those years of night school encouraged me to grow, learn, and help those I was ahead of. I worked with folks that taught me the trade, encouraged me, challenged me to be better and not repeat past mistakes. I completed my apprenticeship program in May 2007. After a 2-year separation from the workforce in the recession, I was employed by the other main Sheet Metal Union contractor in the Boise area. This showed me the other side of the coin, so to speak. Other techniques and tools to learn and get skilled on, another batch of Union Brothers and Sisters to be acquainted with, and more responsibilities put on my shoulders. Getting laid-off is sometimes the way of construction work. I have worked for both main contractors a few times each. I am skilled enough to be able to take my tools anywhere in the country and work. But by luck, I have stayed in Idaho for work.

In my apprenticeship, I was encouraged to attend monthly Union meetings to help and be aware of how things are going in my Local. Being present became something I dedicated to. I see the benefit of presence, having knowledge about how our Union works, and why we do things to promote our workforce. I was urged to become a Union Trustee for a couple terms, an Executive Board member, and am on the Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC) to help our training facility educate new members. These duties have taught me so much. In 2014, I took a spot as a SMART 55 delegate to the Boise Central Trades & Labor Council and became their Vice President within a few years. I serve our community in promoting Labor, worker benefits, employees being able to unionize, and volunteer for public functions. This opened the door to my helping The Idaho AFL-CIO. I still have years of service to give to this state, and the workers we’re helping.