Member Spotlight: Terrell Martin

06.22.2023 Luke Marino

Born, raised, and residing in the Bronx is up and coming journeyperson Terrell Martin. He’s at the beginning of his union career, but he’s carving out a name for himself as one of our proudest (and loudest) members!

Tell us how you became a union carpenter?

–     Before I became a carpenter, I was a store manager for Starbucks. It was okay, but I needed a career with a future. A family member of mine was a former union member and encouraged me to join. He knew I had a solid worth ethic and thought I would succeed as a carpenter. When I heard how the application process works, I wasn’t deterred. I waited in line over a weekend in April, ensuring I would be selected for the apprenticeship program.

Have you ever worked nonunion?

–     I’ve never worked nonunion construction, but a few members who I’m proud to call my union brothers and sisters have, and they’ve told me I should be glad I never experienced it. They didn’t make a livable wage and had no benefits. Quality is second to productivity, and both are put before safety on nonunion jobsites.

How does the union prioritize safety and skills training?

–           Safety and skills training always comes first. Every apprentice is trained in safety practices from day one. Every job site also has a shop steward to ensure union rules are followed, providing a safer work environment for members. All apprentices undergo four years of skills training, ensuring we are highly trained and ready to work. Even when you journey out of the apprenticeship program, the Carpenters Training Center is always available as a resource for members looking to expand their skills and certifications.

How does the union support workers in New York?

–     Workers are supported in many ways, with the most essential way being done through our rallies. The union holds rallies throughout New York City, allowing us to be more visible to contractors and companies trying to pay a wage below Area Standards. I try and attend as many rallies as I can. You can usually find me at the rallies with my megaphone making sure people can hear us. It’s worth noting that a large misconception of our rallies is that we’re fighting against the nonunion workers. That’s false. We’re fighting the contractors looking to exploit these workers. Everyone deserves to live comfortably, whether that’s a nice apartment in the city or a house in the suburbs with your family; I don’t think it’s too much to ask. Everyone should have a place to live, money to retire with, and enough of both that you can pass things down to your kids.

Is the union invested in diversity?

–     Yes. The union is extremely interested in diversity, and it’s only increasing. We have a strong group in the union called the Sisters in the Brotherhood. They work on empowering and mentoring females in the union. We’ve come a long way with diversity here for females, people of color, and minorities. The union was founded in 1881 before the Civil Rights Act was even passed, and now there’s people that look like me representing it.

What’s your favorite part of your career?

  • Helping others. I love being able to help my union brothers and sisters find work. In five or ten years, I would love to continue helping others within our union but in more of a mentoring role. Maybe that’s being a part of the Carpenters Training Center and helping pave the way for the next generation, or perhaps it’s by being a part of my local e-board. I just know I want to help others in our union succeed as I have. In the words of my local 157 President Anthony Madaio “do more,” and Area Standards Rep Sinade Wadsworth, “get involved.” That’s exactly what I want to do. Do more, get involved, and help those around me and the generation coming after me.