Learn as you earn
Bearden explains that he was employed even before he joined the union. One of the first memories is also one of his favorites. “When I joined the trade, I went to the roof of the building I was working on. My partner told me, count all the cranes. I counted 32 cranes in downtown L.A. and that is a lot of work going on.” There’s also a lot more construction on the horizon over the next seven years as the city prepares to host the 2028 Olympics.
Martin Brothers has a history of building legendary projects such as SoFi Stadium, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, to name a few. Bearden is currently working on a project in Burbank near Warner Brothers and Nickelodeon studios.
Sometimes he can’t believe the fact that he’s got a job on a project that can keep him busy for another year and a half to three years. Plus, there’s the fact that he has benefits and a great salary. “That’s the craziest thing. I was talking with one of my family members and they asked me how much I make. I told them and they told me theirs. I am making half of theirs. They went to college and got their masters. I’m only half-way through an apprenticeship.”
Passion and pride
It’s been said that when you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. Bearden is acquiring skill sets he knows he will use over a lifetime. Right now, he enjoys soffit work and recognizes his role is part of something bigger and takes pride in the work, “That’s my favorite thing to do,” he says about driving past the construction site, “I love taking people to show them what I’ve done.”
With his other union brothers and sisters, they all have a drive to work hard. On long and tough days, Bearden says they bolster each other, “You’ll hear someone say, ‘but who’s going to build America?’”
He says that when you become a part of the union, you stand as a group and the leadership asks, “Whose job?” only for the group to respond, “Our job!” Because it’s not just about today’s project, he notes, “I’m not just building this building and then I’m done. I’m building America.”
More to come
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Click to listen now on iTunes or Spotify and hear the full conversation with Martin Brothers Union Carpenter Bradley Bearden. Find other past episodes of The Rebuild SoCal Zone podcast.