At the Local 633 JATC (Joint Apprenticeship Training Center) future cement masons and plasterers are honing their skills in New Brighton. For the 11th year, the apprentices of Cement Masons, Plasterers & Shophands Local 633 have built a Christmas exhibit in anticipation of their union’s holiday party replicating areas of a small city in their warehouse-sized work area.
“Members and especially retirees love to come to this party, get dinner, see old friends and experience what the apprentices have put together,” Dave Schutta Local 633’s business manager said in the Union Advocate
. “They always seem to be amazed. Of course, some guys like to pick things apart a little bit in good fun, but for the most part, everyone seems to appreciate the display and how our apprenticeship program has grown over the years.”
Together, apprentices molded some 40 cubic yards of concrete into a gingerbread house, miniature hockey rink, candy-cane-shaped golf hole and other holiday displays spanning the entirety of the training center’s shop floor. The exhibit was also used to collect food donations for Food Group, a New Hope based food shelf.
Last year’s exhibit featured an ice skating rink and a gigantic statue of the Stanley Cup in one corner along with a replica of the Vince Lombardi Trophy in the other to salute Super Bowl LII — all done with colored concrete.
Not only does the exhibit show the artistic nature of what can be done with concrete and plaster, but it has an educational function as well. The apprentices get practical hands-on training by doing it. “We are trying to replicate everything MnDOT will prescribe as paving work you’d see in the metro area such as the four types of curbs — B curb, D curb, S curb, and V curb — plus the water drains. This year we decided to put a golf putting green in the B curb!” explained Brian Farmer, Apprenticeship Coordinator of Local 633 Journeyman and Apprentice JATC Training Center. “Everything we are doing here has a real-world application.”
Farmer hopes to one day unite all the union training centers to create a more extensive exhibit to showcase the skills of apprentices across industries.