Q: How long have you been a millwright and a union member?
A: I have been a union millwright for nine years. I was non-union for three and a half years before I joined Local 2411.
Q: Why did you decide to join the union?
A: I was on a job with some guys who were in the Marine Engineers union. We were doing generator work, pump work, and valve repair on ships docked along the Eastern Seaboard. They saw how I worked and wanted me to talk to their business agent about joining the Marine Engineers. I did that and found out the Marine Engineers weren’t for me. You had to sail out for three to four months out of the year to maintain membership.
I went back and told the guys, “I don’t want to be on a ship for months at a time.” They told me, “Then you need to go down and talk to the millwrights hall then because they do all the same things that we do here, but they do it all shoreside.” I got in touch with Mr. French, he told me to come down and get an application, and that’s where it all started.
Q: What benefits did you hope to gain by joining a union?
A: The union protected my co-workers’ rights as workers and provided better wages. When I was working non-union, I was doing a lot of travelling, and I was making $18 an hour. The other guys were basically laughing at me. Those guys pretty much brought me in. They said, “Look, this is how it works. These are the benefits. The union is going to take care of you better than this non-union contract is going to do.”
Q: Since you’ve been part of the union, what kind of millwright work have you been doing?
A: I’ve done everything from paper mills to phosphate mines to power generation, light conveyor, car plants, and food and beverage. I’ve done everything we do is as millwrights, pretty much. I’ve traveled around the country with Atlantic Plant Maintenance. Once I topped out, I started working as a foreman for W.W. Gay, one of our biggest local contractors here with 2411. And then, after about three and a half years, I started going to different contractors. After that, I worked with a couple power-generation companies.
Q: Did you enjoy working in different industries?
A: Yes. I loved visiting new jobsites and learning new things. I didn’t want to be one dimensional. Now I can make myself useful all the way across the board.
Q: Do you think that will help you as a business agent?
A: Oh yeah. It will help me tremendously as far as creating relationships with new and old contractors because I’ve been around so much. And it will help me create relationships with the members as well. They can call me and ask me questions, and, for the most part, I’ve been there and done it. It’s been great because I was able to accomplish so much in a short amount of time, working for different contractors and learning so much about the different crafts and trades.
Q: Have you had any other leadership positions within the union and have you taken any of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters leadership courses?
A: I’ve taken the Strong Journeymen and the 212 Journeymen courses. I served on the local board as a trustee, and I’ve taken the financial secretary and trustee training.
Q: What are your goals as a business agent?
A: My goals as a BA are to give back to the brotherhood as it’s given to me and provided opportunities for me and my family. I’ve done well for myself, and I care about our members and want them to have the same opportunities I’ve had. I want to build a relationship with them and create a relationship between the contractors and the members. I want to create the same opportunities that I’ve had for our hall and our brotherhood.