Apprentices from District Council 9 of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades stopped by the Astoria Houses over the weekend to donate their time and skill to refurbish a 40-year-old mural of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in an effort to preserve his legacy while giving back to the NYCHA community.
DC9 apprentices are trained by the Finishing Trades Institute of New York in Long Island City where they are provided with on-the-job training and classroom instruction to prepare them for careers in the building industry including painters, decorators, wall coverers, drywall finishers, bridge and structural painters, lead abatement workers and architectural metal glass workers.
“At District Council 9, we see our apprentices as future members. A pillar of our membership is giving back to our communities, which is why the work being done at NYCHA’s Astoria Houses is so critical to our union,” DC9 Business Manager/Secretary Treasurer Joseph Azzopardi said. “This refurbishment allows our apprentices to gain valuable onsite training while also having the opportunity to connect with folks in or neighborhoods.”
The apprentices who completed the work at the Astoria Houses are specially trained in painting, and come from all five boroughs. The DC9 Finishing Trades Institute of New York offer six apprenticeship programs and there are currently 590 apprentices, 175 of whom specialize in painting.
“For decades the mural of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has graced the Astoria Houses thanks to the hard work and advocacy of Claudia Coger,” Councilman Costa Constantinides said. “I was so proud to partner with the amazing leaders of DC9 to touch up this mural for generations to come. I can’t thank them enough for volunteering their skills for this project.”
Coger, 84, is the longtime president of the Astoria Houses Tenants Association.
“You know that mural has been there since 1981 and it’s never once been tagged with graffiti, that shows you how much respect the people have for that mural,” Coger said. “I thought it was an excellent idea by the folks at DC9 and I am most appreciative for what they did.”