Two members of Teamsters Local 776 involved in a new Teamster-affiliated apprenticeship program In Pennsylvania told White House officials today that programs like theirs provide quality training for the next generation of drivers to fill good-paying union jobs.
Yellow Freight drivers Chuck Blake and Austin O’Brien, Jr. participated in “Communities in Action: Building a Better Pennsylvania,” where they shared how the unveiling of the Trucking Action Plan by the Biden administration earlier this year led to Local 776 members teaming up with Yellow Freight to form the new training program in Carlisle, Penn.
Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien said the new training is an example of how the public and private sector can work together to fill a need for more truckers nationwide. In addition, he is confident the effort will not stop in the Keystone State.
“This country badly needs more trucking jobs that actually pay high wages and big benefits, and we need more Teamster truck drivers out there keeping store shelves full and the supply chain moving,” O’Brien said. “The apprenticeship program offered by Local 776 provides a roadmap for other locals and companies to follow. The Teamsters are up to the challenge to help expand these educational and economic opportunities.”
Local 776 Members Austin O'Brien (L) and Chuck Blake
Local 776 President Ed Thompson said Blake and Austin O’Brien were selected to attend the White House event because they best knew the inner workings of the apprenticeship program. Thompson is proud that his local is at the forefront of this effort for the Teamsters.
“Local 776 is located in a prime area for trucking transportation, so the creation of this apprenticeship program is providing a real opportunity for workers to train up for a job that can support a middle-class lifestyle,” he said.
Austin O’Brien, the lead shop steward at Yellow Freight in Carlisle, worked with the company to set up the training facility at his job site. He said while the effort is still new, the initial results are encouraging.
“The driving academy in my community has demonstrated a 90-to-95 percent success rate of completion for qualifying commercial drivers,” he said. “That equates to jobs with higher wages and better benefits for those who choose to apply themselves.”
Blake, who has worked for Yellow Freight for more than 30 years, is the lead trainer at the new driving academy. He said the trucker training offerings expanded by the Biden administration is a boon for the industry.
“The apprenticeship program that came from the administration has helped the industry with driver shortages,” Blake said. “With our training, it will help someone have a safe professional career with great pay and benefits and give them the ability to provide for their family.”