REISS– Construction on the Northeast Triangle slowed to a crawl this week as workers with Gilbane Construction began their union-mandated study abroad break on Friday.
The workers–whose contract guarantees one hour per day for lunch, overtime, and the ability to spend six months to a year at a foreign university–have reportedly chosen to study abroad in over 60 countries, said Jeorge Lorenzo, a manager with Gilbane.
“We have employees laying bricks in Dublin, erecting scaffolding in Nairobi, and even installing plumbing in Moscow,” he said. “These are amazing opportunities these guys could not have gotten anywhere else.”
Among the most popular study abroad destinations are the London School of Electricianing (LSE) in England and St. Andrews School for Applied Welding in Scotland.
Construction workers for the Healey Family Student Center who studied abroad last semester had high praise for the experience.
Tyler Galen, a foreman, said, “Everyone thinks study abroad is just about going to another country to drink and party. But, to be honest, we drink enough already while we’re on the job. It’s really about the experience of building something for people of a different culture.”
Renaldo Stewart, another worker, concurred. He said, “I really learned a lot by studying abroad. Did you know that they drive the backhoes on the other side of the road in England?”
According to Gilbane, the company’s study abroad options help it to attract the best talent. Lorenzo told The Heckler, “Obviously we have the standard benefits package, like unlimited smoke breaks and only two hours a day of actual construction work. But what really sets us apart is how supportive we are of our employees who want to go abroad. We have contacts with thousands of partner construction companies around the world. If one of our people wants to spend 6 months building a high-rise in Hong Kong, we can make it happen.”
According to Georgetown University spokesperson Stacy Kerr, delays resulting from study-abroad have not impacted the University’s plans to open the dorm 18 months later than originally announced.