Oller, Goldschmidt win Southwestern Illinois Building Trades Council’s first contested election

Illinois Correspondent

ERIC OLLER (right) elected to be the next executive secretary-treasurer of the Southwestern Illinois Building & Construction Trades Council, is congratulated by Greg Kapp, vice president of Iron Workers Local 392. – Labor Tribune photo

Collinsville, IL – It was a meeting like no other for the Southwestern Illinois Building & Construction Trades Council last week, which held its first contested election for new leadership since its founding in 1974.

A near full-house crowd used a secret ballot process to elect Eric Oller, president of the group since 2019, to be its executive secretary-treasurer, the top leadership post.

Oller collected 5,253 votes compared to his opponent, Tim Evans, business manager of IBEW Local 309, who had 2,401. Evans will remain a highly respected senior member and the host of Council business meetings, which are held at the 309 hall in Collinsville. Oller is business manager of Laborers Local 459, Belleville.

The Council also had a contested election for its presidency, the No. 2 position. Chad Goldschmidt, president and business rep for Operating Engineers Local 520, Caseyville, was elected with 6,120 votes to defeat John Schmidt, business manager of Ironworkers Local 392, East St. Louis, who had 1,534. Goldschmidt has been serving as vice president of the Council.

Charles Bailey, a business agent for Steamfitters Local 439, Caseyville, will be the next vice president of the group, having run unopposed. He is the son of Totsie Bailey, who is stepping down as executive secretary-treasurer after a four-year tenure replacing the longtime group’s leader, Dale Stewart, who retired.

Each member local was allotted a number of votes to cast based on its membership. In the election, following the April 14 business meeting, a representative from each local was handed a paper showing how many votes it had. The reps then traded those papers for color-coded anonymous ballots, which they cast in corresponding ballot boxes. After the ballots were cast, they were quickly counted to determine the winners, making it a completely secret ballot.

Kevin Engelke, a business rep for Teamsters Local 525, devised the voting system, which performed without a hitch. The officers will be sworn in at the next business meeting, on May 12.

In statements to the members at the March meeting, Evans and Oller presented differing approaches to the position, relating to how much the executive would be working.

Stewart was a full-time executive during his successful tenure, with Totsie Bailey as president. When Stewart retired and Bailey took the top post four years ago, Bailey made it a part-time position to help with the Council’s finances.

So in their presentations last month, Evans offered to continue that part-time approach, while Oller said he would prefer to return it to full-time status.

He reiterated that position after the votes were counted last week.

“I do believe this is the best building trades in the country, so I want that to continue, and I believe it’s time for a full-time executive secretary-treasurer,” he told the Labor Tribune in an interview.

“It’s a huge honor for me and a privilege,” he added. “Looking at the job and what it entails is extremely humbling. I just hope to continue with the legacy of what we’ve got here. It’s our building trades, and I plan to keep it moving forward.”

Oller, 49, of Troy, IL, and originally from Belleville, said he is confident he is ready to take on the job, which involves bringing together Labor members and leaders with public officials, construction companies and economic development professionals to make projects happen and see that they are staffed with skilled union workers. He serves as a spokesman and leader for the Labor Movement. The position represents stability, strength and trust as the times are changing.

“Absolutely, I’m up for it – I wouldn’t have run if I wasn’t,” he said. “It’s something that I’ve been striving for – to represent not only your membership as a union local, but to represent your peers and be recognized by them is extremely exciting. I’m looking forward to continue making this Building Trades as strong as it can be.”

With Totsie Bailey, Dale Stewart and others still on the scene, Oller won’t lack for guidance.

“I’ve got a lot of mentors behind me, and I’ll get some good advice,” he said. “I think we’ll have some good ideas among the ranks, and we’ll see how far it takes us.”

For his part, Totsie Bailey said he knows he is leaving the Council in good hands with Oller and the other officers.

“He’ll do a great job, and they’re all good guys,” Bailey said. “The Building Trades is in good hands.”



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