BAC ADC union celebrates opening of new training center in Bordentown

Facility, which replaces training center destroyed during fire, debuts with annual apprentice contest

Back in September 2021, in the middle of the pandemic, the Bordentown training center of the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Administrative District Council of New Jersey sustained damage from a large structural fire.

Between the fire, smoke and water damage, the building was rendered useless.

The difficulties were just beginning.

After several delays from dealing with an insurance company that the BAC ADC felt was unwilling to compensate for the full value of the group’s policy, the union finally was able to start the process of rebuilding.

The front doors of the new center.

It wasn’t easy.

Supply chain issues left from COVID and material inflation presented more challenges. Throughout the building process, training had to be done in the back of the building under tents. And, when the weather turned cold, the group moved to the BAC Local 1 Philadelphia training center during the winter months.

Through it all, the union leadership said there was always one focus and goal: to get the building open so they could start training the young men and women apprentices in their craft and give them a career path to earning a good salary with great benefits.

Finally, after a two-year process with many hurdles, through the cooperation of architect Brooks Garrison, general contractor JR Prisco, all the subcontractors, and the trustees of the N.J. BAC Apprenticeship and Training Fund (the owner of the building), the building was completed and ready for occupancy and, more important, training apprentices in early January.

Earlier this month, the group held a formal grand opening — one that featured a statewide apprentice contest in which 32 apprentices competed.

John Capo, director of the BAC ADC of N.J., Locals 4 & 5, said the day was a huge success.

“I look forward every year to this contest,” he said. “To see the training and hard work these young men and women have put into their craft and see it on display makes me know our union has a strong future.

“For those who say, and there are many, that no one in this country wants to do this work, let them come witness this contest. And to hold this year’s contest in our newly renovated, state-of-the-art training center makes this event even more special. This event is a celebration of registered apprenticeship and the union’s role in building and restoring important structures across New Jersey.”

The state-of-the-art building now has more square footage for hands-on training, providing the ability to set up more life-like, job-like mockups, union officials said.

This will enable the apprentices to be more prepared for actually working on masonry buildings. It also will give the union better options in cross-training in other crafts it covers besides bricklaying, including cement finishing, stonework, restoration and plastering.

The renovated building also utilizes the space more efficiently, providing better classroom and meeting space. The center also has much better lighting, ventilation and new infrastructure and meeting space to not only train the next generation of craftworkers, but hold meetings with industry partners to promote and foster the unionized masonry industry in New Jersey, union officials said.

The new training center will match previous years’ apprentice training numbers, as 12-15 new apprentices will enter the 12-week preapprentice program at the center. After satisfactorily completing the 12-week program, they will enter into their four-year apprenticeship.

While this is going on throughout the year, approximately 30 existing apprentices will continue their four-year apprentice program at the center.

Through the union’s registered apprentice programs, students earn while they learn a skilled trade, getting built-in pay raises as they work towards becoming certified journeyworkers.

About BAC ADC N.J.

BAC ADC N.J. fights to improve members’ quality of life — on and off the job — through access to fair wages, good benefits, safe working conditions and solidarity among members. The ADC represents the most highly skilled trowel trades craftworkers across the U.S. and Canada, including bricklayers, cement masons, stonemasons, pointers/cleaners/caulkers or restoration specialists, precast masons and plasterers.

Tim Driscoll, general president, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, was thrilled.

“I want to congratulate the BAC ADC of N.J. on their grand opening of their spectacular new training center, and to all the apprentices proudly demonstrating their skills,” he said.

The apprentices were just as happy.

Robert Fugel, in his third year with Local 4, took first place in the contest for those in their third year.

“The contest the union hosts each year is always the highlight of the training for me,” he said. “It’s great to see everyone give it their all and show how far they have come throughout their apprenticeship.

“Despite the competitive nature, all of us are still rooting and supporting one another, the same way we do in class or on the job. The brotherhood we have together as a union is what sets us apart and makes us strong.”