Caseyville – Two veteran Metro East union leaders who were honored upon their retirements say their locals are doing all right despite the tough economy.
The Southwestern Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council honored retiring Plasterers and Cement Masons Local 90 Business Manager Craig Votrian, and retiring Painters Local 471 Business Representative Cy Austin at the Council’s meeting May 8.
Local 90 is based in Troy. Local 471 is based in Wood River and is part of District Council 58.
Votrian started work when he was 15 and wanted money to buy a car while growing up in O’Fallon IL. His father, Charles “Chuck” Votrian, was a cement mason and helped his son find work as a finisher.
Votrian later graduated from McKendree College in Lebanon IL (now called McKendree University) and taught for three years before deciding to get back into the construction business and join the union. Eventually, he was elected trustee and then to the executive board before becoming business manager – 27 years ago, way back in 1984.
“It seems like yesterday,” he said.
In the years since then, the local has increased membership and begun a benefits program for the plasterers. And it has weathered the storm of recession fairly well.
“Things are picking up,” Votrian said. “But right now we don’t have a big mega-project, like the refinery, that would make everything else go better.”
Votrian now plans to fish, golf and follow the St. Louis Cardinals.
Austin grew up in Alton and still lives there. He began in an apprentice program and then worked as a painter, including at the refinery that is now part of Conoco-Phillips.
He has been a trustee, financial secretary and recording secretary in the local. He became business representative 14 years ago.
“It gives me great enjoyment to send people to work,” he said.
He is retiring from a local that is still strong.
“Right now is a good time for us,” Austin said. “Work is picking up – summer is our best time.”
Austin plans to spend some time riding his Harley, traveling and fishing.