Speaking with Retirees about Change
Our industry is no stranger to change. We see shifts in job site safety standards, equipment, culture, and technology. Like any industry, we move with the times.. Yet, as a union, we also carry with us a distinct pride in our history. Most carpenters can tell you a story (or several) of how they “remember when that wasn’t a thing you’d see on your job site.”
We are facing unprecedented times due to the coronavirus disrupting our nation’s usual way of life. Construction has been deemed essential across several states. Yet, despite our collective uncertainty in what tomorrow brings, we are moving forward.
Over the past few weeks, Council representatives from all states have been reaching out to our retired members to see how they’re doing. We followed up with some of the retirees who have lived through other economic crises to get their perspective.
Duard Dilday Jr., LU 808
WYOMING | 69 years old | 44 year member
I started back in 1973–framing houses. I started my apprenticeship and then journeyed out in ‘79.
These days I still volunteer–I help our rep, Todd Crosby, at orientations, and I participate in our local union meetings.
I stress this at meetings and orientations–if it weren’t for the insurance I had thanks to the union, I wouldn’t be alive today. My wife and I collected all the paperwork and found that all my surgeries had cost around $1.2 million. I paid only $14,000 out of pocket. The health and welfare benefits you get joining a union are amazing.
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE
Sig Bredlie, LU 1243
ALASKA | 83 years old | 65 year member
I started in May of 1954 when I was 17. I was one of the first people to go up to the Slopes when BP started drilling. I got to work on Kodiak Island after the earthquake and tsunami that hit in 1964. We rebuilt housing there. I built in Fort Yukon, Bethel, and in Anchorage. I also served on the e-board and as a trustee.
I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed it through the years. There were bad days, ones where you wanted to say “to heck with it,” but it never stayed that way. Life hasn’t all been roses, but looking back, I can honestly say there’s been more good than bad times.
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE
Dennis Murdock, LU 79
OREGON | 79 years old | 62 year member
How did you join the union?
At 17, I joined and went to work on a housing project. I actually dropped out of the union for a short while. At the time, my car and my girlfriend were more important than paying union dues. I rejoined after I got out of high school and realized I needed a real job.
How has the union impacted your life?
The benefits–medical, retirement–have been great. I have my wife on it and had my kids on it. The union kept me busy, and I made some great friends along the way. I never pursued a leadership role in the union because I was always working, but the time I put in really paid off.
Do you have any advice for carpenters today?
If you keep a good attitude and are sure to work hard, you’ll find work. Word gets around. Even when things were slim in the ’80s, and there weren’t a lot of union jobs around… You would work for a week, then they’d let you go. You’d spend a month looking for another job, and then you’d repeat it all over again. But even then, the union has taken good care of me. It gets slim at times, and everyone is in the same boat, but the union looks out for us.
Howard Springer, LU 70
WASHINGTON | 81 years old | 58 year member
Howard Springer has been a union carpenter since 1962. He worked for several employers in the Northwest over the years. “It was a good living and good work,” said Howard.
Staff member Miguel Perry called to see how he and his wife were doing. He said they are managing to get out and get groceries and other necessities through the Fred Meyer pickup service and drive up windows so they don’t actually have to go into stores. “I really appreciated the call from my union,” said Howard. “It’s good to know I can reach out to Miguel if we need any help.”