Our apprentice members are what truly make our organization standout in a crowd.  We have many amazing apprentices with many backgrounds and different personalities and have a real passion for what they do.  So, we thought what better way to acknowledge the successes of our apprentice members, is to have them share their stories.  


Mark Seese    

Akron Local 894 Apprentice

If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything. That sentiment, at its core, speaks to the level of investment a person has in their beliefs. Since the age of 12, Mark Seese wanted to invest in his country by serving in the Marine Corps, which he did as soon as he finished high school. During his military career which ended in 2010, Mark served bravely in three combat tours abroad – two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. After his tours, Mark returned stateside to his native home of Akron. It was not the easiest of transitions.

 During his active duty, Mark sustained injuries that in his view, served as a detriment in the eyes of possible employers. “You would be surprised how many people don’t want that liability of someone who’s already been injured”, Mark said. With that fear as a backdrop – Mark had few options for gainful employment. He worked a few odd jobs – stints at Walmart, direct sales, and a tire repair shop. He felt that these jobs could not support him long-term. It was around that time that a friend from his church mentioned that he should check out the construction sector. Within the vast opportunities the construction industry offers – Mark narrowed his search to Operators, Electricians, and Laborers. He decided to go the route of the Ohio Laborers Union. Partly because of where previous employers saw his injury as a liability, the Laborers Union saw it as perseverance and strength.
 Mark enjoys the action, variety, and the different landscapes Laborers encounter. He says, “I like being in there and getting dirty. As a Laborer I can work with Electricians or Carpenters. I can be in a tunnel or doing mining – it’s always something different.” Local 894 Business Manager, Bill Orr, is also pleased Mark chose a Laboring career. He says of Mark, “He’s mature and dependable. I think his military background has helped him become a leader with an international contractor – they want to retain him for other career ventures.” As a whole, Mark is pleased with his progress with the two year’s he’s been in the Apprenticeship Program and is expecting to finish the program within the next couple years. He is complementary of the Training Center as well. He says the Center is helping reshape the image of a Laborer. “Laborers have been sort of only seen as only good from the neck down. But that’s not the case really, we’re able to receive excellent training that can make everyone’s job on the site easier.” 

 In his downtime, Mark leads a quiet life. He enjoys keeping in shape and is also active in Local meetings when they do not conflict with his church involvement. As he looks towards the future he is aware of the sacrifices his body has made as a Marine and is realistic about the shelf-life Laboring may present for him. His vision is to use the great wages he’s earning as a Laborer to invest in and eventually own properties. And who knows, with the international contractor he’s with right now – he may be doing the groundwork for the very places he will one day own.


Jessica Shields

Newcomerstown Local 134 Apprentice

Jessica Shields (Newcomerstown, Local 134) has shown a potential for greatness. With her consistent hard work and positive attitude, Jessica is making her way towards a successful career as a Laborer. Her incredible work ethic is why she was highly recommended to be our Featured Apprentice.  April Ogden, Regional Apprenticeship Coordinator explains, "Jessica is one of my best apprentices. She's a go-getter and a self-starter." April continues, "Jessica takes initiative to do what she needs to do. I've only gotten positive feedback from her business manager and her employers. She is not only a good apprentice — she is a good Laborer. She is what all Laborers should be like."  

Jessica is currently working on a project for Integrity Kokosing Pipeline Services. On any given day, she could be setting skids, stringing pipes, or doing road work. When asked what she likes best, Jessica responded, "All of it. I like changing it up every day and doing something different." Over being cooped up inside, Jessica prefers being outside and doing hands-on work. “I’ve always labored, since I graduated high school,” she described. “I’ve always been into the hands-on stuff.”  This preference led Jessica to work in oil fields straight out of high school. She enjoyed the active work but wanted something more. That was when she decided to join the Apprenticeship Program with the Ohio Laborers. Jessica found the job skills to be similar, and the Laborers came with “better pay and better benefits.”  Local 134 Business Manager John Kistler is very pleased Jessica joined the Apprenticeship Program. “The best satisfaction of all, being a business manager, is when you send a contractor someone who you know is going to do a good job and allow them to be competitive and make money,” explains John. “Anytime I send Jessica out, I have a big smile on my face because she is that kind of person.” 7 The current mood in the industry is preparing for the future. “We are looking for good young people to be our next generation of Laborers,” explains John. “I think the Apprenticeship Program is one of the best things the Laborers have done in a long time. 

As with anything in life, you have to continually get better, or you become irrelevant and go away. I think the Apprenticeship Program is our key to keep getting better and better.” It is apprentices like Jessica that will give the Laborers a distinct advantage over the competition. "Jessica has maximized her position by being that person who shows up on time and gives it her best every day. I know she is going to go out there and give them 100%," said John.  The skills Jessica learns through the Apprenticeship Program and the Training Center give her more work opportunities. She is not limited to what she can do on the job site. Mike Hannum, Steward at Integrity Kokosing Pipeline Services, said, “It is great to have a person like Jessica. She comes to work early every day, ready to go. Whatever is asked, she does.” Mike continues, “She fits in. I think that is the biggest thing. Jessica is able to do whatever we need her to do. We are very fortunate to have her, and we’d like to keep her as long as we can.” 

 Jessica finds her home in Noble County. When she is not working, Jessica’s time is spent with her son. “He keeps me pretty busy,” explains Jessica, “I don’t have much free time.” They enjoy hunting and fishing together. Even with her busy schedule, Jessica tries to make time to be active with her Local. "I do whatever they need me to, but it can be hard to get out there when you are working all the time." Jessica's future plans are to continue her path with the Apprenticeship Program and gain more certifications and credentials. Jessica comments, “I am always taking classes at the Training Center. I’ve done all my A classes, my STPs, my OSHAs, and flagging.” She hopes to keep working in pipeline. "I prefer to be outside, meeting new people, and doing different things," she explains. As Jessica continues to gain experience, she may one day run her own crew.