Member gives thanks to Business Rep

Member gives thanks to Business Rep

If you’ve been a member of the Carpenters Union for any length of time, you know their mission: To gain 70% market share in the construction industry. The union provides better training, better performance and a better life for the members, their families and their communities. To embody this mission is to dedicate oneself to a level of sacrifice for your current and future brothers and sisters in the carpenter trades. This commitment is what Business Representative Travis Beck, millwright from Local 548 in St. Paul, MN, demonstrated prior to this past Thanksgiving holiday.

On Thanksgiving morning, Local 548 member Jason Black sent Beck a text message that read in part, “Hi Travis. My mother asked me today what I was most thankful for this year. We all obviously have many things to be thankful for. For myself, I pick out the one that is top dog. Travis, I can’t thank you enough for the opportunity you gave me to become part of something real. Brotherhood. So, thank you brother for a life changing year. Happy Holidays to you and your family.” After working for a non-union contractor for the past five years and meeting with Beck several times over the past year and a half, Black went to work for a union contractor and couldn’t be more thankful. 

Local 548 member Jason Black working on a site as a union millwright.

During that 18-month period of time, Beck spent many evenings away from home meeting fellow non-union Millwrights, including Black, near their worksites. His work paid off. Beck persuaded a total of ten millwright employees to leave a non-union contractor putting them to work at similar levels for Norman Industrial, a union millwright contractor. This removal of ten employees from the non-union contractor also opened the door for the first ever union contractor, Norman Industrial, to be awarded over 25,000 hours of work at Minnesota Soybean Processors in Brewster, MN. In addition, Armour Mechanical, another union millwright contractor, was able to secure additional work amounting to 15,000 hours in the Twin Cities Metro area.  This work was previously done by the non-union contractor that employed the ten recruited millwrights.

Black works for Armour Mechanical with four close friends who all left a common, non-union contractor. He was tired of the long weeks, getting burned out and wanted to spend more time with his family. Now, he can afford to have his family visit him if he is out of town, rent a hotel room a couple of nights a week or buy the gas to go home for the night to be with his family. Joining the union has changed his life. “This has opened my eyes to what life can be like. I don’t feel like just another guy. This really is a brotherhood. People care about one another,” said Black.

He acknowledged that his wages and benefits are better and provide more opportunities to spend time with his family. Black’s advice to others is, “Give it a chance. Have an open mind. Your life is your own.” 

Black stated that he is also very thankful for Beck’s efforts. “Travis spent time going out of his way and coming to our worksite to meet with us. We never went to where Travis was. He didn’t have to do that. He didn’t have to meet with us all those evenings when he could have been at home with his family. He did it because he cared about us when he didn’t have to. He earned our respect for what he did. He showed us what the brotherhood is all about,” said Black.

The organizing was critical to the success of being able to recruit these ten new millwrights. It all began when some union and some

This organizing effort all started from a simple conversation on a worksite between one union carpenter and one non-union millwright. The non-union millwright was referred to Local 548. He contacted that local, and his information was passed onto the Business Representative, Travis Beck. Once Beck was able to recruit one millwright, he made sure to bring that person to future meetings so other non-union millwrights could speak to that employee. Beck said, “conversations from employee to employee are our best organizing tool. There is no substitute for an in-person conversation.”