VALPARAISO | After operating out of a historic house near downtown Valparaiso for more than 35 years, the Laborers' International Union of North America Local 81 is ready to expand.
"It's been talked about for a long time, and we're finally able to do it," Business Manager Mike Campbell said. "We work out of a 112-year-old home. We have no place to train except in Bedford, Ind., near Bloomington. We've got guys who work in the mills who need special training. Now they will be able to get it here."
Plans for the union's new 10,000-square-foot offices and training facility were to be discussed with the city's Site Review Committee today.
Campbell said the union is seeking bids for the excavation work, which they expect to start in June. It will take about 10 months to complete the $1.6 million project.
The current office will be sold and the money put toward the mortgage on the new building. Campbell said the house barely has room for the staff, and any meetings or gatherings of any kind, including the Christmas party, have to be held in rented space. The new building will have space for seating about 330 of the union's almost 1,500 members.
The union closed on a 4.3-acre site in Eastport Centre last week. Campbell said it will have all state of the art equipment for training members in whatever skills they need, and, with the diverse nature of the laborers' union, that's quite a few different skills.
The union's members are involved in everything from hazardous materials handling, asbestos removal, mold abatement and rebuilding blast furnaces to sewer pipe installation, paving and concrete work.
The building is being designed by Chester Inc. and had to get final approval from the union's national president after getting unanimous approval from the local members.