Member Highlight: Curtis Graham

Member Highlight: Curtis Graham

April 2, 2024

Curtis Graham (Millwright Local 2337 – Pewaukee, WI) was originally going to be an electrician. He always wanted to hold a career in the trades but it was North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters (NCSRCC) business representative, Jim Anderson (Local 161 – Kenosha, WI) who had him turn his interest to becoming a union millwright earning eight dollars more an hour. This higher pay would provided Curtis with a solid start to his career and helped him move out after high school.

A Career Signing Day was held in Curtis’ honor. Career Signing Day is a day of celebration and recognition for students sponsored into the Carpenters Union by signatory contractors directly from high school. It is also a day to celebrate the contractor who is giving the student the opportunity for a skilled, hands-on career without accumulating college debt.

“My Career Signing Day was awesome,” Curtis said, “it was a really great experience. It was cool to get acknowledged for something like that and it drew attention to the trades.”

Despite his family’s expectation that he would go to college after graduation, Curtis knew that was not the path for him and began his apprenticeship on June 13, 2019 and graduated in May of 2023. He found the various skills learned in his apprenticeship to be very valuable, both hard and soft skills. “The most important skill I learned was how to work with different types of people. That will get you way further in your job than any technical skill will,” reflected Curtis.

Curtis was quick to compliment his mentors and the people he encountered during his apprenticeship. “There are a lot of good journeymen out there who I look up to. I wouldn’t be where I am without the people I met and worked with during those four years.”

Curtis has had impressive accomplishments on and off the job site. Curtis worked at American Family Field in Milwaukee, WI doing maintenance for their retractable roof, the only one of its kind in North America. In his personal life, Curtis bought a house when he was just 20 years old. He fixed it up and is now a proud homeowner. Curtis was also a part of the negotiating committee during the most recent bargaining cycle for Local 2337.

Curtis Graham 2

Graham working at the American Family Field in Milwaukee, WI

When looking back on the negotiating experience, Curtis said, “It was cool to see how things work behind the scenes. It was stressful and a little nerve racking sitting in a room of all your potential future bosses and a lawyer making demands. However, it was very rewarding because I was negotiating on behalf of my local and improvement for all our members.” During those negotiations, Curtis was glad to report that they received the largest pay increase his local had ever had. 

 To Curtis, being a union millwright means doing a quality level of work safely. “We must be precise. We are measuring things to 1/1000 of an inch and as trained professionals, union millwrights do that really well,” said Curtis.