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State Senator

Cathy Osten

Representing Columbia, Franklin, Hebron, Lebanon, Ledyard, Lisbon, Marlborough, Montville, Norwich & Sprague

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Senators Osten and Somers, Local Unions Rally Against Closure of Carpentry Program at Ella Grasso Tech

photo of Senator Osten.

State Senators Cathy Osten (D-Sprague) and Heather Somers (R-Groton) joined Carpenters Local 326 today to protest the end of the carpentry program at the Ella T. Grasso Technical High School in Groton.

Sen. Osten, who spoke out against the carpentry program closure when it was first announced in November 2015 by the Connecticut Technical High School System, believes carpentry and other building trades are going to fuel explosive job growth in the state and the region over the next several decades as manufacturers and subcontractors take on new defense contract work.

“The decision to end the carpentry program at Grasso Tech was made more than two years ago by a superintendent who has since resigned. Obviously a lot has changed since then, particularly Electric Boat’s announcement that it’s going to be building a dozen new submarines over the next 20 years and that they need to hire nearly 20,000 skilled tradespeople, including carpenters,” said Sen. Osten.

“We should reinstate a commercial carpentry program at Grasso Tech, not only for EB but for all the subcontractors and manufacturers in southeastern Connecticut. The need for carpenters is expected to grow nearly 10 percent over the next decade, and these jobs pay an average $50,000 a year with a high school apprenticeship. I’ll be working up in Hartford with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to create a state budget that adds money back for more student seats in our technical high school system,” she said.

“At the end of the day, the school administration is taking opportunity away from our local kids,” said Chris Bachant, Business Representative for Carpenters Local 326. “Carpenters craft bridges, foundations, flooring, framing, exterior siding—and that is just scratching the surface of the work we do. With the amount of opportunity that is coming to Eastern Connecticut it is reckless and foolish to get rid of the carpentry program. In fact, many carpenters are nearing retirement so it’s absolutely essential to foster a skilled workforce to fill these job vacancies, and fill vacancies with a workforce that has been trained with new technology. Local carpenters strongly oppose the closure of the carpentry program and want to thank everyone who came out today and supported our cause.”

“With the changing economic climate in southeastern Connecticut it is critically important to maintain the flow of workforce-ready students to fill job openings,” said Sen. Somers. “The fact that the school administration wants to close the carpentry program, when carpentry jobs are in high demand in southeastern Connecticut, is absurd and frankly irresponsible. We have a chance to stop this by offering our next generation good-paying jobs right here in southeastern Connecticut. I will continue to fight to make sure that our children have the training and skills they need to get the jobs they want and deserve.”

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