All under one roof


If you’ve been to the union hall in the past few months you may have noticed a few things. You probably noticed multiple vehicles on our parking lot that don’t belong to staff or partners, or a large industrial red dumpster, or the distinctive look of contractor pickup trucks coming and going.

This is all because we are nearing the completion of a major remodel of our building in order to accommodate the Local 655 Health and Welfare staff moving into our building. This move comes for a few reasons and will have numerous benefits for our partners.

First, it will save the H&W fund money. As the end of their lease for their current office space is set to expire, those offices needed accommodations that would allow them to do their work while also not breaking the bank to find a good office. Less money spent on administrative costs like rent can ultimately put more money into benefit payouts. Bringing in the fund as a tenant renting space in our building is also another source of revenue for the Local that can be spent on our efforts to better represent you, our partners on the job.

There’s another reason this move will be important, and you can’t put a price tag on it. Many years ago the H&W offices shared a building with us and eventually they found different office space just down the road.

There is something important both practically and symbolically about having all our essential staff under one roof. It allows for easier coordination and better relationships between all our staff, and it also gives all our partners a one-stop-shop for all their needs.

Need to turn in some pension paperwork? How about speak with someone in person about processing an insurance claim? How about help from one of our union representatives? We have all that back under the same roof. Whether they realize it or not, this will send a message to our partners that no matter what they need from us, we have it covered.

The renovation came with certain costs. Of course there was the actual dollar amount needed to initiate a massive remodel. I’m confident we proceeded in the most fiscally sound way we could. The other cost was purely symbolic.

The new H&W offices will occupy the space in the building that was one taken up by our large meeting hall, which we used for everything from our regular membership meetings to our holiday events, to negotiating with our major employers.

It’s true that it felt just a little bit strange to decide to do away with this large meeting space. I’ve been around long enough that I’ve seen that room packed for membership meetings or opening contract meetings or retirees we host for an annual Christmas lunch. However, I’ve also been around long enough to see in-person meetings dwindle in size and watch as our digital capabilities made those meetings no longer essential. For anyone who has spent as long in Labor as I have, this is a big shift. Packed meetings with our fellow partners in Labor have been a staple of the Movement for generations.

This change isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it gave us pause when we made the decision to take this space and decided to use it for something more practical.

Now for those of you wondering, don’t worry, we still have our smaller hall space for our membership meetings, and while it is indeed much smaller, it will serve as a sufficient space for our turnout. It will also allow us to have events that we can accommodate in a smaller space.

Ultimately this is a decision that will be a positive long term choice for both our staff and our partners in equal measure. As I get closer to the end of my time here at Local 655 it’s increasingly common that we are making decisions where the positive impact might not hit until I am gone, and that’s just fine with me. We don’t tend gardens and expect it to grow in one day.

I’m glad our partners will be able to come back to our building when they need help with their insurance questions because it’s an important piece of what we do. Union health insurance is consistently far cheaper with much higher quality than insurance on the marketplace, and we are proud that we have consistently provided the best healthcare in our industry through the bargaining process.

This remodel will be complete soon, and by the summer our H&W staff will be comfortably set up in their new home here, under one roof with us.

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