Painters District Council 58 celebrates the 135th anniversary of IUPAT

Painters District Council 58 is celebrating the 135th anniversary of the International Union of the Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), formed in 1887, with a trip down memory lane of Council 58’s success over the years.

“As the union expanded, the idea of the word ‘local’ under the umbrella of a District Council caught on,” said Joe Mueller, District Council 58 assistant business manager of Missouri. “The idea was to provide local and regional union offices so members could attend meetings without having to drive long distances.”

District Council 58 currently has 4,200 members, and it continues to grow stronger and attract more employees into its fold. It has a large territory that comprises the eastern half of Missouri from Iowa in the North and then South to the Arkansas border and the southern half of Illinois. It has recently added central Kentucky and Tennessee to its vast coverage area.

The council has Missouri local offices in St. Charles, Jefferson City, Festus, Cape Girardeau, and two in St. Louis for its painting and drywall finishing trades, and Local 513, which consist of Glaziers. In Illinois, it maintains offices in Collinsville, Springfield, Decatur and Champaign, and one office in Nashville, Tenn.

Each local has its own executive board, which oversees the operation of the local. The District Council and its executive board oversee all locals under its umbrella under the direction of Business Manager Carl Farrell and Assistant Business Manager Mueller.

“This keeps the members active and involved in their local, and its operation,” said Mueller, who is also acting business agent of Painters Local 1156. “So, it’s a built-in mechanism that allows members to have more say-so, and more interaction with the general business of their local union.”

Another area where District Council 58 takes pride is in the diversity of its members, which includes 154 women, 370 minorities and many others working in the ancillary locals that they represent.

“With the new leadership of our International Union, I think we’re going to spearhead a lot of progressive workers’ rights legislation,” said Otto Schoenberg, a business agent for Painters Local 115, which celebrates its 135th anniversary next year.

Mueller said District Council 58 members finish the installation of resinous floors, finish drywall, paint, wallpaper, hang vinyl, create murals and marbelizing and wood graining. Members also do infrastructure work in elevated and ground storage tanks, sanitary sewer systems, water treatment plants, wastewater treatment plants, refineries, pipelines and bridges.

“Anything that you can think of that can be painted, we paint it,” Mueller said. “We’re very proud of the fact that we’ve been around for 135 years and consider it a badge of courage that we’ve fought through phony “right-to-work (for less” legislation twice, and we’ve actually grown stronger over time. We’re still here, and we’ll be here another 100 years, plus.”

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