Why I am proud to be a union member

“Why I am proud to be a union member” – Chris Meis, Local 106, Des Moines, IA

I will never be a millionaire, but I have never gone hungry, either.
I have repeated this statement many times throughout my career as a union carpenter. At times I have become emotional as I reflect on the good things in my life that come from hard work and thrift, combined with being a union carpenter. I have often said to friends and colleagues that I have everything a man could possibly want: a comfortable home, a healthy family, and a skilled trade that I can take with me wherever I go.

I first learned about the Carpenters Union when I attended Job Corps in the early 1980s. I have had a wide variety of experiences as a union carpenter: apprentice, journeyman, foreman, superintendent, union contractor, instructor at two different Job Corps centers, the Carpenters Training Center in Des Moines, and as a teacher for Des Moines Public Schools in the Skilled Trades Academy.

The home I currently live in is a good example of what the Carpenters Union has helped me accomplish in life. The house was a foreclosure we purchased in 2008 and, after a lot of work, we are able to enjoy the shelter and comfort it provides us.
The skills that I learned as a union carpenter equiped me with the knowledge and persistance required to undertake a project like this, and it has been a skill I have had the privilege of sharing with others not only on the jobsite and in the classroom, but in the military as well.

I was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 to a small combat outpost that was in the early stages of development. When not engaged in presence patrols or guard tower duty, I was given several opportunities to use my professional carpentry skills to improve the quality of life on our little outpost. One of my subordinate soldiers who helped me build some stairs while on deployment eventually started an apprenticeship in my local union and is nearing completion of his apprenticeship.

It has been a privilege to be a union carpenter. It has allowed me to support a wife who stayed at home to raise our four children, it has provided me with a fair wage for my labor that has allowed me to pay for a home and vehicles, and it has given me the opportunity to better my life and share that opportunity with the people around me.

If you have thoughts to share about why you are proud to be a professional union carpenter, email them to info@ncsrcc.org. Thank you!