By MARY ANN HOLLEY
Don Brown is retiring as director of the Bricklayers Central Region Administrative District Council (ADC), leaving a position that he says allowed him to stand up, speak out and fight for fairness and safety for working men and women.
Bricklayers Local 1 Field Representative Brian Jennewein is taking over its director, fulfilling Brown’s unexpired term until 2021.
John Finder, secretary-treasurer of the ADC, is also retiring. He is being be replaced by former Local 1 President and Field Representative John Hopkin.
Jennewein is a fourth-generation member of Local 1. His brothers and several cousins are also active members.
Jennewein was appointed to the Bricklayers Local 1 Executive Board in 2011, and in May of that year was part of the negotiating committee that navigated the 2011 strike brought on by the Mason Contractor Association’s attacks on the union’s Working Code. He was also on the negotiating team that navigated the 2015 strike brought on by the Contractor Association’s attacks on the Local 1 pension plan.
Jennewein is taking over in a tumultuous time, with Missouri Governor Eric Greitens having recently signed the so-called “right-to-work” law and Missouri lawmakers pushing through legislation trying to repeal the prevailing wage law in Missouri and make union dues deductions and political contributions more difficult through “paycheck deception.”
“It’s not the easiest time, with all of the anti-union attacks happening in our State Capitol, but we all need to stand tough together and fight the destruction of the middle class,” Jennewein said. “We all need to say alert and informed, and be prepared for the upcoming ‘right-to-work’ petition drive. If we don’t all step up, our livelihoods will be in danger.”
Jennewein is braced for the challenge and said he looks forward to leading the membership.
“We had a great team of officers here prior to the retirements, and we will have a great team with the new additions,” Jennewein said. “We’re all on the same page, know where we’re heading and know that we will remain a strong and viable Bricklayers Union.”
Michael Fox, Sr. becomes the new president of Local 1. He has been a field representative since Sept. 2016.
Bricklayers Johnny Walker and Mark Savage will fill the open field representative positions resulting from the retirements and position changes. The two started Feb. 27, to provide an overlap into the transition.
Walker has been named vice president and field representative, and Savage will serve as recording secretary and field representative replacing previously retired official, Gary Juenger.
With a choice to make,
Bricklayers’ Don Brown chose the union
In 1985 Don Brown was a young Golden Glove National Finalist, but bailed from the contest because he said he couldn’t take off work. A left-hander, Brown held a record of 16-4 and was considered a favorite that year in the amateur boxing community, but he was drawn to the union bricklayer’s trade and chose his priorities.
Now, 32 years later, he is retiring from the top position as director of the Bricklayers’ Central Region Administrative District Council, leaving a position that he says allowed him to stand up, speak out and fight for fairness and safety for working men and women.
Brown became a trustee and business agent for Bricklayers Local 1 of Missouri in 1991. Prior to that he served several years as a sergeant at arms. He became business manager in 2000, but in 2012 when Bricklayers’ Local 1 merged to form the Administrative District Council of Eastern Missouri (ADC), he became its director. The merger brought Local 23 in Cape Girardeau and Local 18 Tile and Marble Setters Union together with Bricklayers’ Local 1 into the District Council.
Brown also served as a trustee and later vice president of the St. Louis Building and Constructions Trades Council following the retirement of Jerry Feldhaus, and served on the executive board of the Missouri State AFL-CIO.
Brown said guiding Local 1 through three concurrent strikes, 2006, 2011 and 2015, without sacrificing member benefits, is among his most rewarding accomplishments. As business manager of Local 1 and District director, Brown said one of his most significant achievements was leading the negotiating team that stopped an attack on the union’s defined pension benefit plan by the Mason Contractors Association after the strike in 2015.
“It’s been a privilege to serve the guys. There have always been challenges, and it will get more interesting, but I’ve always said when I’m 62 I will retire,” Brown said. “The guys just have to stick together. The membership needs to get more involved in their locals. As long as they stay heavily involved, I think it will work out.”
Former Local 1 field representative Brian Jennewein has been appointed director to fill Brown’s unexpired term.
John Finder retires as secretary-treasurer
of Bricklayers’ Administrative District Council
John Finder, secretary-treasurer of the Bricklayers Central Region Administrative District Council has retired. Taking up his position is Local 1 president and field representative John Hopkin, a 39-year member, and representative since 2007.
Finder began his career with the Bricklayers union in 1973. He worked most of his career with Davis Bricklaying, including an apprenticeship under Fred L Davis.
Finder was appointed as a Local 1 trustee in May 1994, overseeing financial operations of the union.
In 1996, Finder was chosen as the first bricklayer instructor with Job Corps Bricklaying program sponsored by the International Masonry Institute. He became a certified bricklaying, pointing, caulking and cleaning instructor through IMI shortly thereafter.
In 2005, Finder moved up to the position of business representative and president of Bricklayers Local 1. That same year he became a board member on the St. Louis Council Building and Planning Commission.
“I have always been proud to say I am a bricklayer. I have been proud to represent the members and I was proud to have learned so much under Director Don Brown,” Finder said. “We fought hard in 2011 to halt proposals by the Mason Contractors that would have undermined our working code. We can’t ever let changes destroy our ability to be safe on the job.”
Finder was also part of the negotiating committee with Brown that navigated the 2015 strike brought on by the MCA’s attacks on the Local 1 Pension Plan.
In 2012, Finder was appointed, then elected, secretary-treasurer of ADC of Eastern Missouri replacing Financial Secretary Joe Schonlau when he retired. Finder was appointed delegate and trustee for the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers by International Union President Jim Boland.