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SAVOY — With a brand new 6,000-square-foot union hall just completed, UA Local 149 Plumbers and Pipefitters next plans to double the size of its old building to add more training space.

Business Manager Matt Kelly said plans are underway to add a 12,000-square-foot addition to the older union building at 1005 N. Dunlap Ave., Savoy.

He hopes to see ground broken on the addition in a month or two, he said.

The older building had housed both training space and union offices, and now it’s been turned over to the Local 149 Joint Apprenticeship Committee to use entirely for training and continuing education.

Part of the need for more training space is a larger apprenticeship class, Kelly said.

Six years ago, the group had 40-50 apprentices moving through a five-year apprenticeship program, and now it has nearly 100, Kelly said.

Getting into the apprenticeship program is competitive. The union typically accepts applications for new apprentices once a year and ranges from 150-250 applications for 10-20 open spots, Kelly said.

Apprentices serve the first of their five years on probation and undergo both classroom and on-the-job training.

Local 149 also needs more space to accommodate the increasingly higher-tech training needed to work in this trade, he said. The former union hall building was built in pre-computer age 1967, he said.

Plans include providing a full area devoted to training to install the medical gas piping used in health care settings, Kelly said.

“Technology is really pushing us, so we’re trying to respond,” he said.

Local 149, which was charted in 1899, has more than 600 members.

A ceremonial grand opening is planned for noon June 25 at the new union hall at 1003 N. Dunlap Ave., Savoy, Kelly said.

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