Top graduate apprentice reflects on those who helped
Nevedal credits military service, H2H, Boilermakers
QUALIFYING FOR A national apprenticeship competition requires the support of organizations and people along the way, says the 2015 winner, Jonathon Nevedal, Local 169 (Detroit). He cites his experience in the military service, his introduction to the trades through Helmets to Hardhats (H2H), and the shared knowledge and guidance of Boilermakers in the field as well as in the union hall.
A submariner in the U.S. Navy, like his father before him, Nevedal worked as a machinist mate during a five-year hitch.
“I was basically an industrial mechanic working on submarines,” he says. “There are a lot of similarities” to what Boilermakers do. “You’re pretty much in an industrial environment.”
Nevedal’s Navy experience and status as a veteran led him to contact H2H, and that program helped him transition into the Boilermaker trade.
He soon found himself working alongside career tradesmen on power plants, steel mills and refineries. He also received structured training at the union hall. His field work and training were a big help in preparing for the competition, first at the local level, then at the area level and finally going on to the national event.
“I owe a lot to every member of my local who I’ve learned from over the course of nearly five years now,” Nevedal says. “It’s an honor to represent my local and show them what they’ve done, because it’s not just me, I’m just bringing what I’ve learned from them [to the competition].”
Along with practical skills, contestants also have to prepare for a lengthy written exam testing their knowledge of blueprint reading, the Boilermaker constitution and bylaws, Boilermaker history and other topics.
“I never studied so hard in my life,” Nevedal recalls. “I had a lot of help, especially from Mike Card, Local 169’s president and apprenticeship coordinator. W. J. Oyler, last year’s Local 169 contestant at the nationals (and team co-winner) also spent many hours with me. I learned a lot from him.”
Nevedal says he doesn’t know where he would be without the assistance of Helmets to Hardhats. The program put him on a path to do something that has a familiar feel to it.
“I’m happy to be a union member. The brotherhood of the military is very similar to being a union member, especially with the Boilermakers.”