A timely tale of success

Steve Warren posing in a blue suit in front of a welder working in the background
A SAIT alumnus reflects on his experiences during the recession and shares the lessons he learned to help others navigate their careers through the COVID-19 pandemic.

A welder by trade and a strategist and negotiator at heart, Steve Warren (AWEP ’14, APM ’17, TTT ‘17) works as a business representative for the Boilermakers Union Local 146.

Most people have 20 ­to 30 years of work experience before they’re even considered for the advanced role because there’s so much involved. Steve is just 30 years old. He landed this dream position because he had what it takes: interest, the will to succeed and credentials.

“I was welding for about a year after getting my journeyperson ticket, and then the recession hit,” says Warren. Job opportunities became scarce and competition tough. “There was no way a young person could compete.”

Well, that’s not quite true. Warren found a way. He took advantage of his employment downtime to upskill, completing SAIT’s Applied Management program and then adding the Alberta trades’ Blue Seal to his CV. He then expanded his options even further with Train the Trainer certification. These additional credentials would put him in a strong position for the future.

“I invested the time and the money during the recession when I had no money, and to see it paying off now — it feels really good.”

He has successfully navigated his own path during challenging times so it’s not surprising that Warren’s dream job is focused on helping others. As a union representative, conflict management, labour laws, human rights, investigations and negotiations are all in a day’s work for him now. He negotiates employment contracts and, where applicable, settlements for union members in Southern Alberta.

With the added stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic impacting so many people’s lives and livelihoods, Warren has been working to ensure proper pay for quarantined union members and, more recently, proper health and safety protocols for those returning to work as the Province takes steps to reopen.

Union members have rallied from the beginning of all of this, donating their supply of unused N95, 3M and North masks to people on the frontlines. They also got behind Project Joy, collecting and distributing used cellphones and tablets to senior facilities to promote connectivity and minimize isolation.

“Everybody’s struggling in some way right now and it’s awesome to see people working together. That’s basically what a union is all about though, isn’t it? If you stick together in the face of adversity, then at least you stand a chance of making a difference.”