Offering very personal and sometimes emotional remarks to the MTD Executive Board was the executive director of the Union Veterans Council (UVC).
Will Attig took the podium on February 16 to announce that the MTD-affiliated council is the newest of the AFL-CIO‘s constituency groups.
An Iraq War veteran and a member of the MTD-affiliated United Association, Attig has guided the UVC since 2017 with the objective “to build a real Labor program for veterans.”
After being discharged from the Army as a sergeant with a Bronze Star of Valor, Attig told the gathering he languished looking for a job and dignity in his southern Illinois home. Then a pipefitter told him about the Building Trades’ “Helmets to Hardhats” program where he became an apprentice.
He told on himself as he described his first day going to work as an excited apprentice, riding with an experienced journeyman who had to park his car and talk to Attig: “I never want to hear you call this job, this career, a job ever again. There are millions of people across the country hoping to contribute to the Labor Movement to allow every American worker some dignity on the job.
“So, this is not just a job; this is much more. If you treat it like a job, that’s all it’s going to be.”
Attig said the journeyman told him to get involved. “I try to do that every single day.”
Telling the board and guests that 35% of all veterans make less than $31,000 a year, Attig uses the UVC “to advance veterans into the Labor Movement.” He added that a union member who is a veteran averages $12,000 more a year than a veteran who doesn’t have a union card.
Attig acknowledged the maritime workers transporting goods and materiel to troops around the world and especially to Ukraine. “You keep this country running.”