Ironclad deal: WCC, Ironworkers extend training partnership for five years

The International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers – better known as The Ironworkers – agreed to extend its partnership with Washtenaw Community College and bring its annual Instructor Training Program back to the Ann Arbor area for five more years.

WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca and Ironworkers Executive Director of Apprenticeship and Training Lee Worley signed a ceremonial contract at the college on Friday. The new agreement begins with the union’s visit on July 13-17, 2020 and will continue through July 2024.

“Our relationship with the Ironworkers is one of the most important we have – one that enriches the college and our entire community,” Bellanca said. “WCC and The Ironworkers share a joint mission to develop a skilled workforce to meet the needs of a healthy, growing economy.”

The Ironworkers have held their summer train-the-trainer program at WCC for the previous 10 years, contributing more than $40 million to the Washtenaw County economy in the process.

“I am pleased to celebrate another five-year extension to our contract. The facilities and staff at Washtenaw Community College continue to meet our needs with their first-rate accommodations and support,” said Worley, noting that the Iron Worker Trustees to the National Training Fund agreed to renewing the agreement earlier this year. “The purpose of our Instructor Training Program is to strengthen the skills of our leaders in the classroom so we can continue to be the best-trained ironworkers in the industry, and our move to WCC 10 years ago helped us meet that goal.”

Worley also thanked the staff at Destination Ann Arbor for its support and “the residents of Michigan, who welcome us each year. We’re glad to be back.” Destination Ann Arbor President and CEO Mary Kerr called it a “tremendous privilege” to welcome the Ironworkers back for another five years.

“For a decade now, more than 800 staff, instructors and skilled tradespeople have visited the Ann Arbor area from across the United States and Canada for the Instructor Training Program. We know that they’ll continue to enjoy in the years ahead all the great attractions, dining and shopping that the Ann Arbor area has to offer.”

The Ironworkers signed a contract that extends their use of Washtenaw Community College’s state-of-the-art facilities by five years for their summer Instructor Training Program. Executive Director Lee Worley sat beside WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca for the ceremony. Ironworkers General Organizer Ed Abbott was also in attendance.


Washtenaw Community College doesn’t just host training for the Ironworkers. The college also helps students get into the trade. Initiated by the relationship between the Ironworkers and WCC, the college introduced a pre-apprenticeship program for Ironworkers in September 2017. The certificate program teaches some of the skills needed to become a union Ironworker apprentice in their programs in the United States and Canada.

A combination of classroom and lab training at WCC provides results that come with real-world experience. The program includes blueprint reading, math, safety and welding training used by the union Ironworker trade.

Students who successfully complete the program will receive a certificate of completion and be eligible for advanced standing in the Ironworker Local Union Apprenticeship Training Program. The apprentices will then go on to become a journeyman Ironworker when they complete their apprenticeship.

MAIN PHOTO: Officials on hand at Friday’s ceremony include (from left) State Representative Ronnie Peterson, WCC Board of Trustees member Diana McKnight-Morton, Ironworkers General Organizer Ed Abbott, Washtenaw County Commissioner Shannon Beeman, WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca, Washtenaw County Commissioner Sue Shink and Ironworkers Executive Director Lee Worley.