As a father of seven, a family-sustaining career in a skilled trades union has been a long-term goal for Ullah Freeman. So when he learned that Rebuild offers a new pathway to union membership for Philadelphians with experience in construction, Ullah jumped at the opportunity.
As a member of Rebuild’s first class of skilled trades trainees, Ullah was introduced to Roofers Local 30, and knew immediately it would be a good fit for him. Three weeks into the Rebuild program, Ullah was accepted into the union and began working for a commercial roofing contractor.
“I have been actively applying to unions since 2012,” Ullah said. “I believed that when the right opportunity presented itself, I would be ready to gain union membership and build a career. For me, Rebuild was that opportunity, and I have the work ethic and experience to take advantage of the apprenticeship.”
Selected from a pool of over 950 applicants, Ullah joined the Rebuild training program in September 2019, and has been working as a union apprentice ever since. He looks forward to applying his skills to renovate parks, recreation centers, and libraries in the communities where he grew up, and where he is raising his kids.
“A strong roof on a library or rec center is like a strong heart or set of lungs in a person. When the roof goes, the building begins to fail,” Ullah explained. “I am learning skills that will help restore the places where our young people go to learn and play. Safe places for my kids are really important for my family, and for our community. Rebuild is putting our kids first, and creating opportunities for Philadelphians like me to support our families through stable, solid career pathways.”
This week Rebuild launched its second cohort, which is designed to connect participants with opportunities through contractors working on Rebuild job sites. Program participants are focused on careers in carpentry, roofing, cement masonry, and bricklaying. All are people of color.