Queens job-seekers spend night in cold for chance at union job

Matt Kozar reports on union apprenticeships and the people hoping for a chance at them
January 10, 2014 4:53:36 AM PST
Armed with space heaters, chairs wrapped in plastic and lots of layers, hundreds of job seekers in Queens didn't let the frigid temperatures stop them from spending the night in the cold for the chance at a coveted union job.

Jose Alvarado has been in line for three days.

"We got families to feed, a struggling economy," he said. "Look at the line."

More than 100 people were already in line late Thursday to apply for 50 apprenticeships with District Council 9.

Leaders are accepting 500 applications for the limited number of painters and decorators.

"It's a lot of money," Deshawn Lykes said. "I could use it."

The program is three years and pays $17.20 an hour for the first year. Those waiting in line say a stable job in a tough economy is priceless.

"I'm from Yonkers," Jeffrey Hampton said. "I'm in Queens. So this job is important. I don't have a job, I need a job. Wish me luck."

The job can lead to a full-time union position doing building and dismantling containments, lead abatements and blasting and painting bridges.