U. S. Rep. Don Bacon (R-2nd-Nebraska) recently toured SMACNA Arizona’s state-of-the-art local Joint Apprenticeship Center (JATC) in Phoenix and showed his natural welding skills to boot.
Rep. Bacon, who is a supporter of certified apprenticeship programs, visited the Phoenix SMACNA/SMART JATC as part of a learning trip to study workforce training, defense industry facilities, and high-technology complexes in Arizona.
He was joined by Arizona SMACNA President Jim Dinan of Bel Aire Mechanical, SMACNA Arizona Executive Director Carol Goguen, JATC Director Albert Blanco, SMACNA Director of Legislative and Political Affairs Stan Kolbe, and SMACNA Legislative Affairs Committee member Todd Byxbe of Miller Engineering.
Reps. Bacon and Rodney Davis (R-13th-Illinois) had requested a tour of the high-tech JATC to learn about apprenticeship training during their learning trip. Rep Bacon heard about all aspects of training from CAD design in the classroom and testing and balancing to HVAC equipment repair. Additionally, he learned about enhancing worker skills through additional training programs offered by the training center as he visited with JATC personnel, apprentices, and skilled workers.
Rep. Bacon turned out to be a natural in virtual welding. He learned to use the virtual welding simulator and practiced several welding challenges, scoring a 92 on his weld and speed with a perfect angle for the torch.
Rep. Bacon also learned why the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, which established the requirement for local prevailing wages, matters in training and in producing skilled labor for construction projects. Significantly, Reps. Davis and Bacon marked the 88th anniversary of the signing of the original Davis-Bacon Act by reaching out to labor and management supporters of Davis-Bacon at the SMACNA/SMART JATC and to industry and defense firms in Arizona during their four-day trip.
Rep. Davis was unable to tour the training center due to a flight delay, however, he later met with SMACNA Arizona members over several days of meetings and dinners to discuss training and construction industry issues.
Rep. Bacon served for three decades in the U.S. Air Force, retiring a brigadier general. A highly decorated aviator, his career included wing commander in Germany and Nebraska, group command in Arizona, and expeditionary squadron command in Iraq. He was elected to Congress in 2016.