Dave “BEAR” Curran, LU 2520
Member since 1979
How long have you been in the union?
Since 1979 – started working in construction in 1976.
How did you get into the industry?
I came up to Alaska to escape Wisconsin. It was the first time I made real money in my life. Working on a barge working seven twelve-hour days. I traveled up and down the coast doing barge work for several companies.
Do you have any favorite projects from over the years?
Working on the Osprey Offshore Platform in the Cook Inlet of Alaska. It was different, working with old friends driving piles. It was a good time.
How has being a part of a union made a difference in your life?
I came off of a dairy farm in Wisconsin making $400 a month to becoming a pile buck making $1,000 a week and that included a pension and unbelievable training. I got two homes, one in Anchorage that is paid off and one in Arizona. And I still have health insurance at the age of 69. I got a tattoo on my arm “Union pride, union man until I die”. Got it a couple of years ago. I told the tattoo guy I wanted it big enough to read without my glasses.
Has union membership impacted your life in ways you did not expect?
I didn’t make a comfortable living, I made a wonderful living. I made a lot of friends that all feel the same way about the union.
Are you still active in your local union?
I have been retired for about six years. I go to meetings and talk to the guys. I will go out and check out jobs for the fun of it. If someone needs advice I will give it to them.
Have you had mentors in your career? Have you been a mentor?
You didn’t call them mentors when I started out. I had some folks that guided me in rigging and work ethic. My uncle got me out from Wisconsin. When I came into the union we didn’t do sensitivity training. It was a hit in the back of the head for fucking up. I learned to do the job and keep my mouth shut. We have a pretty good veteran crew up here in Alaska. As a Vietnam vet, I encourage young vets to get into the building trades.
Do you have advice for those starting out in their career?
Just remember, it’s a small community. People are going to hire you on your street cred. People remember good decisions and bad.