Union Brother since 2005, Brian Jerlin fondly remembers being selected at age 17 to begin apprenticeship in a new program called Public Works Center (now Naval Facility Engineering Mid-Atlantic). With a desire to excel and motivation to learn, Brian was the first Pipefitter to finish this state wide program.
Brian shared very matter-of-factly that as a youngster, he was hot tempered, a ﬁghter and loved a challenge. He smiled as he thanked his mentor, Brother Steve Newsom for his wisdom, patience and guidance. Brian stated that his mentor took a sincere interest in his aspirations. Brian wants those currently in apprenticeship programs to know that hard work pays off. “Always show up on time with a willingness to learn. Treat each other with respect. Be committed to do the work. Set goals. Encourage each other. Always remember that every problem has a solution. Be willing to search for the knowledge.” Brian continued, “our union brothers and sisters learn by doing – together.”
In 2014, Brian was elected President of United Association (UA) Local 376 in Norfolk, Virginia. Brian stated that in addition to the duties and responsibilities that come with being a Union President, he loves working side by side with his brothers and sisters. “That’s how you get to know each other.” Brian stressed that as President of Local 376, he trusts his representatives. “From the Steward on up – each union member has a voice – use it. Your opinion matters. Show up to the meetings and immerse yourself in your local union.” Through his leadership, Brian stated, “we identify and address concerns before they become issues.”
Even the photo is indicative of the unity of Local 376. President Jerlin is the one wearing the Captain America T-shirt. This photo was taken after they went to the home of a brother who was out of work, recovering long term from an illness. The men in support of their fellow brother surprised him and his family by completely replacing a much needed sewage line at his residence.
Camouflaged under the working gear of President Jerlin is a true warrior spirit. “I still have that ﬁre burning within – but I have learned to temper it.” You see, President Jerlin is an Applied Wing Chun Student and Instructor (Wing Chun’s most famous student – Bruce Lee). “‘Strength tempered with wisdom’ is my motto.” President Jerlin stated that as with anything – be it pipefitting, HVAC, plumbing, sprinkler ﬁtters, management, negotiations, Wing Chun, etc., much practice is required to be precise and accurate; there are no short cuts.
With his unquenchable thirst for knowledge and his passion for teaching, President Jerlin traveled to China in October to instruct and continue to learn the art of Wing Chun.