July 18, 2016 By Christian Murray
Hundreds of men spent the weekend in a long line that snaked its way through a number of Long Island City streets as they sought an application for the prized Local 1 Plumber apprenticeship program.
The men lined 36th and 37th Streets (between Queens Boulevard and 47th Avenue) and one block on Queens Boulevard in order to be among the first to get inside the Plumbers Local 1 training center at 37-11 47th Avenue when it opened at 8 am this morning.
The union began handing out 1,000 applications this morning and those who meet the criteria—such as having a high school diploma or equivalent– will be selected. The apprenticeship, which lasts five years, brings job security since workers end up earning more than $50 per hour.
With only 1,000 applications being handed out in total, the men began lining up for an application on Friday. They brought with them tents, chairs, coolers, clothes and radios. Many came in groups and played cards to pass the time. Others drank beer.
Many men were shirtless due to the extreme heat Sunday. The tents proved useful, providing shade yesterday and protecting them from the rain earlier in the weekend.
Some men were accompanied by their girlfriend or wife. The number of women who were in line seeking an application was difficult to determine, although it was likely limited.
Rex, who lives in Manhattan and was in the line (see video), said that he set up camp on the sidewalk at about 7 pm Friday. He estimated that there were 800 people in the line, with prospective applicants from all over the region—from Brooklyn to Long Island.
He said that it was worth the wait since the program provides job security and a good income. All the men interviewed said that they were there for the same reason.