NEW YORK (CBS NewYork) –The wait is over for hundreds of carpenters who have been camped out for days in hopes of scoring a coveted apprenticeship with New York City’s carpenters union.
Monday morning, the District Council of Carpenters Union began handing out 750 applications. With that comes the chance for union card and the promise of better benefits and a heftier paycheck.
Nicholas Foreman was the first person in line.
“The pot of gold at the end of that rainbow is getting that interview,” he said.
Foreman has been camping on the sidewalk since last Monday through rainy days and chilly nights with no bed, no shower and no electricity.
“A lot of people are going to come for it because this is a very good job,” he said.
The union holds this application process once every two years. Of the applications that will be given out, 500 will be for carpenters. The remaining 250 will be for dock builders and floor installers.
Those who get jobs will earn $20 an hour to start with the possibility of earning as much as $99 an hour down the line.
But the competition is fierce. The line stretched two full city blocks with the hundreds hoping for their chance at a break.
Margaret Power works at the top of One World Trade Center.
“My son is waiting to get in,” she told WCBS 880′s Alex Silverman early Monday morning. “He’ll be a fourth-generation carpenter.”
“The things that they have coming up in the next few, a lot of money to be made,” one man told Silverman.
“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Bodhi O’Neil from Copaigue.
But getting in the door doesn’t guarantee a job. It only guarantees a spot in the lottery. Union officials said they pull names of individuals from a locked lottery box as the industry needs more apprentices.
“We run a state approved lottery and all of these individuals will put their names in a locked box with their names and addresses. As the industry needs more apprentices we pull from that box in a lottery it’s a blind pull,” NYC District Council of Carpenters Director Elly Spicer told CBS 2′s Kathryn Brown.
Those who have been waiting for days say it’s a chance worth taking.
“I’ve never slept on the streets of New York City, I thought it was beneath me. Well, irony is that I’m willing to do it just for the opportunity of possibly getting a job that can change my life,” Bernard James told Silverman. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
Union leaders said they typically pull names from the locked lottery box once every two months.