WES partnership with Painters’ DC 58 sponsored apprenticeship program Advanced Skills Workforce Center builds skills and solidarity. Support this effort!

WES and Painters DC 58 sponsored Advanced Skills Workforce Center (ASWC) is proud to announce that ALL of the mayoral candidates accepted our invitation to discuss skills-based job training for African Americans and implementation of the St. Louis City Diversity Study Findings! The ASCW students are excited to engage hopeful decision makers about issues critical to working people of color in our community.

Stay tuned for event invite updates to join the ASWC students as they meet with the candidates!

Over the past two-years the Painters’ District Council 58 sponsored Advanced Skills Workforce Center (ASWC), in partnership with WES, has graduated 80+ African American men into the painting industry. Once ASWC participants graduate, they are placed with a union contractor, making between $15 and $20 an-hour plus benefits. They then join DC 58 as union apprentices. Under the leadership of WES member Steve Wayland, DC 58’s director of business development, the ASWC has seamlessly incorporated soft skills, hard skills and political education into one organic whole.

While People’s Community Action, Corp., provides the soft skills (resume’ writing, financial literacy, etc.), DC 58 provides the hard skills, the actual trade skills empowering graduate to gain a career in the painting industry. WES provides the political education and labor history. Every Tuesday and Thursday during the training WES secretary-treasurer, Don Giljum, talks with participants about St. Louis labor history, so-called ‘right-to-work,’ union democracy and rank-and-file collective power, while on Wednesday and Friday, Al Neal, our dir. of advocacy and education, talks with participants about collective bargaining, labor relations, NLRB, community organizing and citizen advocacy. They even conduct mock contract negotiations!

Additionally, local electeds, like WES members Peter Merideth (80th District) and Bruce Franks (78th District), talk with ASWC participants about voter registration, the electoral process and why it is essential that they vote.

Worker education is a central component of WES’s mission. We’re committed to training a diverse, politically engaged union workforce. The ASWC is a perfect example of the types of collaborations WES is trying to build throughout St. Louis.

WES Board Member Al Neal with ASWC participants, along with police officers from the Team Bully Response Squad who are working to mentor at-risk youth.

WES Adviser Steve Wayland teaching students at the ASWF.