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Want job security, benefits and great pay? Learn a skilled trade

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While most of his friends headed for college after high school, Port Jefferson Station, NY, resident Todd Hentschel Jr. worked nights stocking dairy at the local ShopRite.

“I absolutely hated it,” he said.

But, at 19, he hadn’t decided what he wanted to do next. That is, until he spoke to a friend of his father’s, a man who worked as a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) contractor.

“He told me about his union’s apprentice program — where I could get paid as I learned a trade — then asked me if I was interested,” said Hentschel. “I told him, ‘Absolutely.’ ”

The United Service Workers Union (USWU) program is five years long and requires working five days per week in addition to attending evening classes twice per week.

“It was [a] solid core,” said Hentschel.

But, it was time well spent. Not only does Hentschel like solving problems across the variety of the work that’s involved, but his total compensation package as well.

Hentschel became interested in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) work after a discussion with his father's friend.
Hentschel became interested in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) work after a discussion with his father’s friend.
Stephen Yang

“I’m one of the few blue-collar workers among my friends, and I’d say I’m in the best position,” said Hentschel.

At 28, Hentschel is now certified in HVAC and has Environmental Protection Agency and health and safety certification. He’s currently working as an HVAC service technician with SavMor Mechanical in Ronkonkoma, L.I., where he receives substantial raises (about 20 percent to start), paid retirement, major medical and optical benefits and much more each year. He’s already invested in home ownership.

“Tell me where you can get all of that and be paid as you learn,” said Brian Keating, director of the USWU’s Joint Apprenticeship Training Center in Bohemia, NY.

Hentschel’s choice to work in the trade is the tip of a trend that has accelerated throughout the COVID-19 era. According to experts, there are several forces at work making it attractive. They range from the number of opportunities created by retiring baby boomers, to the fact that trade jobs have proven to be less prone to the layoffs observed in other professions during the pandemic.

Hentschel has been able to invest in home ownership - at 28 years old - due to his position.
Hentschel has been able to invest in home ownership – at 28 years old – due to his position.
Stephen Yang

“The [COVID-19] unemployment lifted a veil on the skilled trades industry and allowed for a number of misconceptions to be dispelled,” said Mary Kelly, president and CEO of the non-union affiliated StrataTech Education Group. “Although we witnessed an overwhelming number of businesses shuttering their doors, skilled trades professionals were highly sought-after and deemed essential.”

That’s something that you don’t have to tell Brooklyn native Faith Tarver. The 34-year-old spent 15 years building a career in the fast-food industry and was led to believe that she was on a management track. “But in 2020, they let me go,” she said.

Tarver then saw a TV commercial for Tulsa Welding School owned by StrataTech. She took down the information, filled out the application, applied for financial aid and started to learn the trade out of Jacksonville, Fla., not long after.

“It was a struggle,” she said, noting that she had to repeat one course and work part-time to earn spending money, plus she had to pay $21,000 in tuition and fees. But, when she graduated, there was a job offer waiting. In August, Tarver started a job at Tenneco in Harrisonburg, Va., where she now welds pipes and hangers. She made $40,000 in her first year.

An outside image of Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx, where Todd Hentschel works as an HVAC apprentice.
An outside image of Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx, where Todd Hentschel works as an HVAC apprentice.
Stephen Yang

There’s no lack of decent work in the trades in New York City, according to Jackie Mallon, First Deputy Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services.

“New York City drives a lot of union projects,” she said. “Consider that there are around 142,000 union workers in construction alone in New York. These are good middle-class jobs.”

There are some basic qualifications for union apprenticeship programs that vary from a high school diploma and basic math skills to the ability to pass physical tests. Any local resident can put their name on an apprenticeship list — but they may have to pass a basic interview, the purpose of which is to determine if they are genuinely interested in the profession.

Unionized workers like Todd Hentschel earn 11.2 percent more in wages compared to wages of non-unionized workers, according to a study.
Unionized workers like Todd Hentschel earn 11.2 percent more in wages compared to wages of non-unionized workers, according to a study.
Stephen Yang

A quicker way in is through one of the city’s pre-apprenticeship programs. These offer direct entry into apprenticeships in the skilled trades. While you don’t earn money while you attend, you’re almost guaranteed a paid apprenticeship when you complete the program. “There’s an agreement between the city and contractors,” said Mallon. “We aim to train a diversity of people and make those good jobs available to New Yorkers,” she added.

According to a study by the Economic Policy Institute, unionized workers earn on average 11.2 percent more in wages than nonunionized workers in the same industry and occupation with similar education and experience. Unionized black workers, for example, are paid 13.7 percent more than their nonunionized peers, while unionized Hispanic workers are paid 20.1 percent more.

Additionally, 94 percent of workers covered by a union contract have access to employer-sponsored health benefits, compared with just 68 percent of nonunion workers. Not only that, but 91 percent of union workers covered by a union contract have access to paid sick days, compared with 73 percent of nonunion workers.

On top of those benefits, both Hentschel and Tarver love their jobs.

“Becoming a welder changed my life,” said Tarver.

LOCAL RESOURCES
• The Department of Labor in New York: DOL.NY.gov
• New York City’s pre-apprenticeship program and free training in the industrial or construction fields: www1.NYC.gov
• Fee-based training programs are listed at FindMyTradeSchool.com

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New York

These fatty foods could be destroying your memory, say scientists

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Ready meals and fast food could be destroying your memory.

Scientists say highly processed foods, crisps, and deli meats containing preservatives were linked with abrupt memory loss in older brains.

Researchers warn the amygdala — the part of the brain which regulates fear — is also affected.

So a bad diet could mean some dangerous decisions.

But diets with extra omega-3 fatty acid DHA, found in fish such as salmon, could ward off problems. Rather than supplements, researchers advised improved diets.

Scientists at America’s Ohio State University Institute for Behavioural Medicine Research did tests on lab rats.

Dr. Ruth Barrientos called the results “alarming”, adding: “Consumption of a processed diet can produce significant and abrupt memory deficits.”

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Biden and Lightfoot know mask rules are idiotic — so why haven’t they changed?

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It happened again because of course it happened again. The latest example of COVID hypocrisy, if you have enough hard-drive space to keep track, is a viral video of President Biden traipsing through a ritzy DC eatery with no mask, in defiance of the city’s strict rules. In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot was photographed at a basketball game, the only bare face in a sea of muzzled fans.

This kind of thing has been so common that it is hard to stay outraged, even though we should.

But there is another, deeper question at play here. Why won’t the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention update its masking guidance as vaccinations increase, case numbers diminish and politicians, among pretty much everyone else, ignore it across the nation?

The CDC website says that “If you are fully vaccinated, to maximize protection from the Delta variant, and prevent possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public, if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.” A handy map shows the location of these areas — it’s basically the entirety of the United States. This guidance is vague, and not followed by massive swaths of the nation.

Mask mandate hypocrite Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot attended a basketball game where everyone except her was wearing a mask.
Mask mandate hypocrite Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot attended a basketball game where everyone except her was wearing a mask.
Twitter

Why is it being ignored? Because much of its application is nonsensical on its face, so to speak. What possible health benefit is there for wearing a mask from door to the table then taking it off to eat and drink and talk all night? Every one of us knows that 10 seconds of following the hostess to your table is not a potential superspreader event. It’s such performative idiocy.

Meanwhile, CDC guidelines still say if you take a kid across state lines, say on vacation, you have to quarantine for 10 days. Is any parent in the country actually doing this? We should hope not, because it’s insane. Even Fauci the Merciful, who has relented and has now pronounced we can have holiday gatherings, isn’t mentioning this. Because he knows he would look like a fool.

President Joe Biden leaves Washington DC restaurant Fiola Mare without wearing a face mask.
President Joe Biden leaves Washington DC restaurant Fiola Mare without wearing a face mask.
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden went to Fiola Mare on October 16, 2021 for a date night.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden went to Fiola Mare on October 16, 2021 for a date night.
REUTERS/Tom Brenner

So why do these absurd rules, that most people don’t follow anyway, and seem to be based on about as much science as Tarot cards, still exist at all? And more importantly, what metrics do we need to hit for them to go away? That’s one query the exultant and high experts will never answer. When it comes to imposing restrictions the science is strict, settled, and exact, when it comes to easing restrictions it’s all a rich tapestry of who really knows.

Enough. When mask mandates made their first appearance in the Spring of 2020 many feared we would wind up wearing them forever. Those people were mocked as alarmists. Well, it’s almost 2022, what gives? Everyone over 12 can get a vaccine that we are promised gives fantastic protection, and young kids continue to only very rarely have significant illness.

People can decide for themselves whether they want to keep wearing masks, if they are high risk or nervous. As for the rest of us, what are we waiting for? We have long passed common sense. We need some answers about how and when these rules will end. And we need them now.

David Marcus is the author of “Charade: The COVID Lies That Crushed A Nation.”

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Cops face questions after missing Alabama woman’s body found in police van

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A missing Alabama woman’s body has been found in an unoccupied police van — prompting questions about her death and how she could go undetected as authorities were searching for her.

Christina Nance, 29, was discovered dead in a prisoner transport van Oct. 7, five days after she was reported missing, Deputy Police Chief DeWayne McCarver said.

The vehicle was parked at a public safety complex in Huntsville.

“The officer noticed shoes next to the van and approached, discovering Ms. Nance’s body inside. Windows on the van were observed to be opened and on this type of van they popped outward,” McCarver said on Friday at a press conference, CNN reported.

No cause of death has been determined, but preliminary autopsy results didn’t indicate that there was any foul play or bodily trauma.

“The official cause of death will be ruled by the state medical examiner once additional studies, including toxicology, are complete,” police said.

Police released surveillance footage of a woman believed to be Nance wandering through the parking lot on Sept. 25, then appearing to enter the van.

But her family — who reported her missing on Oct. 2 — said they have their doubts about the footage.

“The video was not clear enough to indicate that that was our sister Christina Nance,” Nance’s sister Whitney Nance told news station WAFF.

Police vehicles.
Police released surveillance footage of a woman believed to be Christina Nance wandering through the parking lot on Sept. 25.
Huntsville Police Dept. Facebook

“It was just very heartbreaking to know that we didn’t get the clarification that we really needed, that we wanted.”

Police have said it’s protocol for the vans to be kept locked.

“It is an accountability issue on our part,” McCarver said. “That should not have happened. And now we have to look at that, and we have to make sure that we have things in place so that does not happen again.”

It’s unclear how Nance went undetected in the busy police parking lot.

“Cars go by, people walk nearby the van. We just wish that she would have hollered out to someone or something, because there were plenty of … what we see as potential opportunities for this to not be a tragedy. And unfortunately, no one was able to realize she was in that van and that was the outcome,” McCarver said.

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