Apprentice FAQ’s

Steel Toed CSA approved workboots, Tape Measure, Knife (if job permits), CORE Training certification cards, welding tickets (if you have any), Lunch (most jobs do not have a cafeteria), Appropriate work clothing, Social Insurance Number, Board Money information if applicable (drivers license, rent receipts, landlord statement, lease statement, hydro bill, mortgage statement)

Coveralls (unless new construction), Hard Hat, Safety Glasses, Work Gloves, Earplugs, Tools, Specialty Training if required (AWP, Forklift, Swingstage, etc.), Specialty Safety Equipment.

There is a HUGE variety of Boilermaker work. In general, Boilermakers work on pressure vessels related to big industry. Storage Tanks, Boilers, Furnaces, Towers, Heaters, Penstocks, Exchangers, Stacks, Duct Work, Structural Steel and much more.

For that reason, Boilermakers find themselves working on various different jobsites including, but not limited to: Oil Refineries, Steel Mills, Pulp and Paper Mills, Nuclear Power Plants, Coal Fired and Natural Gas Generating Stations, Hydro-electric Generating Stations, LNG Plants, Cement Plants

There are three main aspects to the Boilermaker trade; welding, fitting and rigging. Some Boilermakers gravitate towards the welding aspect, others towards the fitting and rigging. It important for a Boilermaker to be knowledgeable in all aspects of the trade.

Listen and learn from your journeyman. Initially you may be required to do mundane tasks such as man watch, fetching tools, cleaning, housekeeping and more. The more initiative you show the quicker you will earn the right to move on from those tasks. From there it will be assisting your journeyman in layout, cutting, grinding, fitting and rigging. Again, the more you learn and the more initiative you show, the quicker you will be given more responsibility. It is all up to you.

It is also common courtesy to “take care of the old guy.” Older, long-time members typically have a vast amount of knowledge which will be at your disposal. Use them, pick their brain, ask them questions and learn as much as you can. Always offer to help them with the lifting, moving, and carrying of objects or tools. If there is a tight, dirty, difficult position to work in always offer the easier position to the older member. One day you will be that older member and you will appreciate the same courtesy.

You will be required to work at heights and in confined spaces, often under extreme conditions (heat, cold, atmospheric hazards.) You may be asked to climb a 250 foot tower or crawl through an 18” Manway and work in hazardous conditions, maybe even both for the same job. This is not a warning, this is commonplace.

Travel. Often jobs take Boilermakers hundreds or even thousands of kilometres away from their home and for long periods of time. This can be intimidating and difficult for some but travel is an inevitable part of being a Boilermaker. It can also be a positive thing with the right attitude. You will get to experience many different parts of this great country and make money while you’re at it. Embrace change and approach travel with a positive attitude, you will be rewarded intrinsically as well as financially.

You are expected to show up to work each day. If you are legitimately sick you must phone the company and let them know. A “call-in” number will be given to you upon jobsite orientation. Unexcused absences will not be tolerated. You will sometimes be expected to work long hours with minimal days off. “7 10’s or 7 12’s” are not uncommon.

You must watch out for your own safety AND that of your fellow workers. Even journeyman can make mistakes, it is better to ask questions about something you may think is unsafe than to say nothing and have somebody get hurt. Do not be afraid to ask questions.

Call or drive to the union hall immediately upon layoff. Put your name on the out of work list. Speak with the Boilermaker representative for your respecting area regarding upcoming work. It is always a good idea to speak with reps from different areas as well. Often times one list may have no upcoming work for the foreseeable future but another list has plenty.  It is a good idea to ask how many apprentices are on the out of work list as well. For example, Kyle Groulx (Hamilton area representative) may have 30 apprentices on the list and no major shutdowns upcoming for 2 months. Dale Quinn (Sarnia area representative) may have 6 apprentices on the list and a few jobs in the near future. You are obviously better off putting your name on the Sarnia list and travelling there for your next job unless you are comfortable with a long wait between employment.

It is also a good idea to file for unemployment right away.

There are 6 areas in Ontario with an out of work list; Sudbury, Kingston, Hamilton, Toronto, Sarnia. Thunder Bay (only if you reside in the region)

There are two lists in each area your name will be placed; Short Term and Long Term.

The short term list consists of job calls with the duration of 2-14 shifts. The long term list consists of calls 15 shifts or longer. You will not lose your place on the list for 1 shift outages.

Upon layoff your name will go to the bottom of both the Short and Long Term of whichever list you decide to put your name. The representative of that region will dispatch people to work in sequence.

For example, upon completion of a job you phone the Toronto hall and put your name on the out of work list. You are then told you are #22 on the Long Term, #14 on the Short. This means that in order for you to receive a call 2-14 shifts in duration, 13 apprentices must be sent to work prior to you receiving a call. The same thing applies for jobs 15 shifts or longer, only in this scenario 21 apprentices must be sent to work first.

If you accept a call from the Short term list your name comes off of that list until completion of that job. Your name will continue to stay on the long term list unless you go over your 14 shifts.

If you accept a call from the Long Term list and work more than 14 shifts your name will be removed from both the Short and Long Term lists until completion of that contract. Once the contract is completed you repeat the process and place your name back on the bottom of the out of work list of your choosing.

You are not allowed to have your name on an out of work list in two different regions (i.e. Hamilton and Sarnia)

You are not allowed to place your name on an out of work list if you are working at the time.

If you decide to transfer your name from one regions out of work list to another you will move to the bottom of your new list. For example, if you are #1 in Toronto to go to work and decide to move your name to Sarnia you will be placed at the bottom of the Sarnia list. You do not keep your #1 position.

Apprentices are dispatched at a 1-4 ratio. This means that for every 4 journeymen that are sent to work, one apprentice will be sent out. This is an important piece of information to keep in mind when deciding which region to place your name.

  • General Foreman. This person organizes his team of foreman. You will not often be required to deal with this person individually but he/she may give you direction from time to time.
  • Foreman. At the beginning of each job you will be assigned a foreman. This person will be the leader of your workgroup and will be in charge of giving you orders. Treat this person with respect and show a willingness to work and you will often be rewarded.
  • Journeyman. Your foreman will assign you a journeyman or multiple journeymen to work with. These people are your partners, they will be the most influential people in your learning process. Ask questions, be helpful, be eager. Similar to the foreman, respect and a willingness to work will go a long way.
  • Shop Steward. Each job will be assigned a Shop Steward who is also a journeyman Boilermaker. This person is your onsite union representative. The steward acts as a liaison between the union members and the contractors. This persons role is to ensure the terms of the collective agreement are upheld by the contractor AND the union worker. He/she will handle things from paycheque issues, board money, health and safety concerns, jurisdictional issues, working conditions and much more. You can bring any concern you may have to the steward. This is an important person to know.
  • Safety Officer. Each job will have one or multiple safety officers who are in charge of providing a safe working environment. Immediate health and safety issues can be brought to this person, though it is sometimes better to speak with your journeyman or shop steward first.
  • Do not wear dirty coveralls into the lunchroom. It is a health and safety hazard as well as a great way to make a poor impression in the lunchroom.
  • Do not put your hardhat or gloves on the lunch table. Same reasons as above.
  • Find a travel partner. A travel partner can greatly reduce expenses when you are out of town. It also makes the transition easier and less stressful having someone else who is going through the same thing.
  • Do not spend your entire paycheque each week. Inevitably they will stop coming and you will be laid off for an extended period of time. It will happen, be prepared and leave yourself some extra money to get you through those times. Also, two months in trade school will be more expensive than you think. Be forewarned. Do not expect a full time job.
  • Keep fit and healthy. This trade is tough on the body. Regular exercise and good nutrition will help combat fatigue, low morale and general soreness, especially on those long shutdowns.
  • Remember you are an apprentice. Your job for 4 years is to keep quiet, soak up as much knowledge, and learn as many skills as you can. Mistakes are ok, they are an important part of the learning process. They happen and will continue to happen long after your apprenticeship is complete.
  • Have fun! Laughing and joking on the job is key. It may be tough physically at times but enjoying yourself at work and keeping a positive attitude will rub off on everyone around you.