By SHERI GASSAWAY
The Jefferson County Labor Club experienced a historical moment at its January meeting – the installation of a new leader.
IBEW Local 1 retiree Bart Velasco, who has served as the club’s president since the group was founded in 1986, passed the torch to fellow Local 1 member Chuck DeMoulin, Jr., on Jan. 9. DeMoulin, who serves as a Local 1 business representative, has been a member of the club since 2002
“I’d like to thank everyone for their support,” DeMoulin said. “I will do my very best to do the job that Bart did. I don’t think I can. I don’t think anyone could. But I’ll do my best to fulfill this position for the next two years.”
A TRIBUTE TO VELASCO
After his acceptance speech, DeMoulin presented Velasco with a gold watch and a beer mug on behalf of Local 1 to thank him for his many years of service.
“I don’t think anybody could really say thank you enough for what you guys have done down here,” DeMoulin said.
“It’s been a pleasure Chuck,” said Velasco, who announced plans to retire from the position last month.
The club is planning a celebration in honor of Velasco’s service. The event, which will take place in lieu of the club’s February meeting, is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 13 at the VFW 3777 Hall at 900 VFW Dr. in Festus. Additional details will be announced soon.
THE NEW PRESIDENT
DeMoulin, of Imperial, is a second-generation member of IBEW Local 1. He joined the union 30 years ago after watching his father, Chuck (Charlie) DeMoulin, Sr., perform electrical work at a jobsite.
“My dad definitely was my inspiration to get into this field,” he said. “Seeing him do the work that day was the coolest thing ever. That’s when I became hooked.”
DeMoulin, Sr., also served as president of the Florissant City Council at one point.
“I grew up around politics and unionism,” DeMoulin said. “When I was a kid and everyone else was hanging out at the pool in the summer, I was helping one politician or another by going door-to-door hanging flyers. It wasn’t until I was older that I understood how important that was.”
DeMoulin said that while many view the results of the 2016 general election and Missouri’s impending “right-to-work” legislation as devastation, he sees it as a chance to rebuild and start from scratch.
“We’re going to have to take a step back in time, remember why we started the club and rebuild ourselves from the ground up,” he said. “We can’t depend on others – politicians – to take care our interests. Instead of rolling over and playing dead, we need to show people what we’re made of.”
DeMoulin said it will be important to get as many of the club’s members as it can to run for office at every level, including school boards, city councils and statewide races. He also stressed the significance of getting the newer generation of union members involved.
“We’ve got a strong executive board in place with great ideas, and if we work together, we’ll be able to implement those ideas, DeMoulin said. “It’s also nice to know that we still have many members who have been in the club awhile as anchors. It’s an exciting time.”