Carpenter, teacher, mentor
Daniel Arredondo Garcia, Local 59, was killed on Thursday, January 16, 2020, at the age of 53. He was at the Carpenters International Training Center in Las Vegas, out for his regular morning walk when a vehicle jumped the curb and struck him.
Antonio Acosta, President of Local 59, remembers Dan as a guy who was always at the local union meetings and, aside from his teaching at Yakima Valley Technical Skills Center, was very keen on promoting the Carpenters’ Union.
“The program at YV Tech is a state-certified pre-apprenticeship program partially funded by the Carpenters’ Union. Dan, attentive to the success of his students, brought in carpenters who had graduated from the program, Regional Council staff members, and others to talk to the students about the potential of a career as a Union carpenter.”
Acosta is also a labor representative on the Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee in Central Washington. “When we interviewed applicants for entry into our apprenticeship, we could always tell those who came from Dan’s program at YV Tech,” he said. “They were respectful, prepared for the interview, and knew their skill set.”
Dedicated to his family, his community, and his trade, in Dan’s 18 years at YV Tech, he impacted hundreds of young lives. He facilitated the Skills USA carpentry competition in Yakima, and his students went on to the National competition. He also worked with youth on the pre-apprentice summer program through NWCI. In the early 2000s, he served as the Yakima Member-at-Large on the LU 59 Executive Board, and as a delegate to the Regional Council. At the International Training Center, Dan took Train the Trainer classes for OSHA 30.
John Rocha, Local 59, was the lead instructor at the Fort Simcoe Job Corp CCC in White Swan, Washington, for the last 20 years until his retirement. He mentioned that he and Dan both came from migrant families in the valley, and both being instructors, they often exchanged ideas. When John retired from Job Corps, Dan convinced him to substitute for him at YV Tech.
“Dan was a Job Corps graduate himself,” recalled Rocha. “He always said that carpentry had changed his life. He wanted the same opportunity for his students at YV Tech. His greatness shined here.”
Dan was also active in his community and incorporated teaching carpentry with community projects whenever he could. In a 2018 interview, Dan talked about those projects:
“One of my classes last year built tiny homes for a church-based organization called “‘Transform Yakima,’” said Garcia. “The other class worked on renovating a little building in downtown Yakima called ‘Rod’s House’ that will be a safe place for teenagers to hang out during the day.”
“Some of my students that helped rebuild Rod’s House end up using this facility to find a meal, use the shower, get clean clothes, or do their homework,” continued Garcia. “During the winter, it is a place both safe and warm.”
Garcia recognized it was the students’ peers, apprentice, and journey-level carpenters that had the most significant impact on students. “It’s one thing to tell them the facts about being union,” said Garcia. “But when you couple that with bringing in former students that are working in the field as apprentices or journeymen, it transforms their perception of the trade.”