Career Into Gear: U.S. Labor Secretary Tours METRO Apprenticeship Facility
METRO staff, along with labor leaders from the Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, and Transport Workers Union Local 260 (TWU), welcomed U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Deputy Secretary Julie Su, and White House National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi to the Kashmere Bus Operating Facility in east Houston.
The delegation from Washington, D.C. a first-hand look at METRO’s apprenticeship facility. The visit came after Harris County announced a $9.1 million investment in union apprenticeship programs made possible by funding from the American Rescue Plan Act and President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.
METRO will receive approximately $1.2 million to hire mechanics and train existing ones for the future as the Authority transitions to zero-emissions buses.
By 2030, METRO will only buy zero-emissions buses. Forty are already being added to METRO’s fleet, and the delegation was given a tour of the first to arrive.
METRO Board Chair Sanjay Ramabhadran said partnerships made the approval of the historic investment in union training programs possible. He thanked the Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, Harris County Commissioners, and the Transport Workers Union Local 260 for their efforts.
“METRO mechanics will greatly benefit from this action made possible by the Biden Administration’s American Rescue Plan Act,” said Ramabhadran.
Secretary Walsh said building an economy from the bottom up and middle out is the mantra of President Biden’s vision for a prosperous future. Apprenticeship programs offer trainees a high-quality, debt-free, equitable opportunity to earn while they learn.
“Training programs like this are important because they create opportunities for people,” said Walsh. “We want to support people who want a decent paying job with health care, a pension, and the opportunity to live with dignity."
The training curriculum lasts 10 months and includes extensive classroom coursework, simulation training, and even help to obtain a commercial driver license. Participants then move into a mentorship program. After advancing to B mechanic status, they will receive a complete set of tools valued at more than $20,000.