Michigan laborers train to dig deep in hopes of helping Flint

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PERRY, MI (WLNS) – One of the biggest problems facing Flint right now is how to go about replacing their corroded lead pipes.  One program is showing Michigan laborers just more about replacing aging pipes.  At the Michigan Laborers Training and Apprentice Institute, people are being trained there that might be able to fix Flint.

It’s a unique training program.  After 80 hours of training, learning the finer details of replacing water lines, contractors can put a shovel in the ground and help remove lead lines.

Labor’s Local 499 Laborer Benji Crowner said, “You put a hole in the yard, you dig it, you cut it there.  We’d push a cable through.  It would have like a little bullet on the bottom or on the end of the cable and that would pull the lead through or it would split it.”

The MLTAI has close to 140 contractor on the ground in Flint.  To remove all of the lead lines in a short period of time, more than 30 crews would have to work on the replacement each week.

Michigan Laborers Training Instructor Jeff Steiss said, “I’m a union guy.  I think we can man it.  We can train people.  Um, there’s a lot of trained people out there.  But, it’s going to take some additional training and some additional manpower.”

Without proper training, things could spring a leak.

MLTAI Training Director Lynn Coleman said, “the biggest obstacle is going to be all of the unknowns.  Number you have weather factors.  You know they want to do it in a year. If that’s the case that’s something with everything going perfect.  Where you just have too many variables.  I’m not saying it’s not possible for them to do but it’s going to be a very tough timeline.”

Yesterday,  Flint Mayor Karen Weaver announced the Fast Plan that would try to get rid of 15,000 lead lines in one year up in Flint.  The question was, is it feasible? With the proper training many people think it just might be.

The Michigan Laborers Training Program has many certified workers on the ground in Flint ready to help.  Instructors for their apprenticeship believe removing the lines in Flint in a short period of time of time is a job of epic proportions but that it is something that has to happen.  The business manager for Laborers’ Local 10-75 based out of Flint says his goal is to put people to work and fix the problem.

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