4:37 PM / Saturday September 18, 2021

3 Sep 2021

Classes in session

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
September 3, 2021 Category: Local Posted by:

The new headquarters for the Laborers District Council hopes to be a place where Philadelphians can get the education they need to participate in the building trades.

By Denise Clay-Murray

When the former William Penn High School closed in 2010, the North Broad Street building was knocked down by Temple University, its new owners.

While people had an idea that part of the land was going to be turned into fields for Temple’s soccer and field hockey teams, they didn’t know what was going to be done with the rest of it.

In June, the Laborers District Council opened a brand-new building at 665 N. Broad St., and while it most likely will never be filled with teenagers, in a way, the area is still a school.

Originally, the District Council was considering buying a portion of William Penn High School, but decided against it after finding out it would cost less to build something new than it would to fix up, said Sam Staten Jr., business manager for Laborers Local 332. 

When Temple tore the building down, the Laborers negotiated for the land and eventually bought it, he said.

The building, which is named after Staten Jr., includes a lecture hall, board rooms, meeting rooms, a terrace and two kitchens, he said. 

But while he was happy and moved that his colleagues thought enough of him and of his work to name the building after him, he felt that focusing on just him told an incomplete story, he said.

“I know I’ve been around for a while and I’ve constantly tried to do the right thing for people, but this isn’t a one-person thing,” Staten said.

 “I need the history to show that it was more than one person, and I wanted to honor people while they’re still alive. This Isn’t a one-man show here. This is a team.

The building also includes classrooms that will allow instruction in a variety of things, said Ryan Boyer, business manager for the Laborers District Council. 

Celebrating the new ldc trainng center: (from left) St. Sen. Sharif Street, Sam Staten Jr., business manager for Laborers Local 332 and Ryan Boyer, business manager for the Laborers District Council.

“It’s designed to train our craft laborers,” he said. “There’s two tracks of formalized training that are exclusive to union members. We’re also going to be housing the Sam Staten Sr. pre-apprenticeship program so that we can diversify Philadelphia’s unions.”

Among the ways that they intend to do this is by helping people master the apprenticeship tests that all unions have, Staten said.

“It’s going to be a little bit of everything,” he said. “We’ll be getting young people prepared to go into the trades. Not just our trade, but any trade. All of the building trades have signed off on this.”

“We’re also trying to get the School District [of Philadelphia] to get the trades back into the schools. 

These programs are vital to keep kids from going out into the streets. It’s worth the money to give these kids some hope. If you ask a kid to spend an hour extra to take up a trade, they’ll do it.”


Thanks to a president that’s union-friendly and stimulus and infrastructure dollars coming in, the state of the labor movement, at least in Philadelphia, appears strong, Boyer said.

In a city where finding a job can sometimes be tough, that’s good news.

“We can address some of the structural unemployment issues and provide opportunities for people thanks to the Infrastructure program,” he said. “It provides people with the hope that you’ll have an opportunity if you do the right things.”

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Leave a Comment

Recent News


Commentary: The right to vote is sacred, and must be protected

September 17, 2021

Tweet Share Pin Email By Philadelphia City Commissioner Omar Sabir Philadelphia’s elections are simple, safe, and secure,...

Week In Review

Ex-prosecutor indicted for misconduct in Ahmaud Arbery death

September 10, 2021

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: Marcus Arbery, Sr., father of Ahmaud Arbery, carries a portrait of...


California Gov. Gavin Newsom beats back GOP-led recall

September 15, 2021

Tweet Share Pin Email By KATHLEEN RONAYNE and MICHAEL R. BLOOD SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov....


Biden moves to declassify documents about Sept. 11 attacks

September 10, 2021

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: President Joe Biden speaks from the State Dining Room of the...


Young Africans struggle with jobs, education amid pandemic

September 10, 2021

Tweet Share Pin Email By Farai Mutsaka and Andrew Meldrum ASSOCIATED PRESS HARARE, Zimbabwe — The future...


A Bird Bath

September 13, 2021

Tweet Share Pin Email In Sunday’s Battle of the Birds, The Philadelphia Eagles beat the Atlanta Falcons...

The Philadelphia Sunday Sun Staff