Metro-East local still prospers after 108 years
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Plumbers and Gasfitters Local 360 has joined the Labor Tribune family of subscribers. We welcome Local 360’s members to our family of more 50,000 union members and working families in Eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois.)
By CARL GREEN
Collinsville, IL – Some things are just built to last. Can you remember back to 1909? Well, you’d have to go back that far for the founding of Plumbers and Gasfitters Local 360.
Local 360 is still alive and well and prospering as a home to every variety of plumber and a group of Ameren gas fitters.
The local started out in East St. Louis and is now based in a modern building in the Meadow Heights Professional Park in Collinsville, just off of Illinois Route 159.
On a map, its jurisdiction covers a southern slice of Madison County, about half of St. Clair County and extends into Clinton County on the east. A southern section takes in parts of Monroe County and Randolph County.
“On the map, we kind of look like the reverse state of Florida – that’s the way I explain it,” said the local’s business manager since 2011, Don DeGonia.
It’s a big territory that needs a lot of plumbing done, both residential and commercial, so the local currently has about 195 members, including about 45 retirees and about 20 Ameren gas fitters.
“We do new residential, we have service guys, we have commercial,” DeGonia said. “We cover the whole gamut of plumbing. Anything plumbing-related, we cover.”
Lately, the local has added a new service – subscribing to the Labor Tribune for all of its members. “I know the guys really enjoy getting it,” DeGonia said. “I’ve already had quite a few phone calls. It keeps the guys informed, and these days, we really need that.”
Recently, residential work has been steady while commercial work has had its ups and down. The St. Elizabeth’s Hospital construction in O’Fallon has been big for the local.
“That’s probably the biggest project we’ve ever had,” DeGonia said. “It’s been a real good project. At one time, we had 44 guys on the job.”
The local had hard times in the years of the George W. Bush recession, around 2007-08, and members were having to take work outside of the jurisdiction when it was available. Before that time, membership was up around 220.
But since 2011, work hours have about doubled.
“The work finally shifted in our favor. We had guys traveling for a while — we had them traveling everywhere,” DeGonia said.
Local 360 has been a generous donor to community efforts, both in money and man-power. It has given frequently to Special Olympics Illinois, Collinsville Area Meals on Wheels and the Salvation Army. Last June, members gave time to help set up and break down the free dental clinic offered at Gateway Center in Collinsville.
The local is also politically active, using an annual fund-raising golf tournament, this year to be at Far Oaks Golf Club, between Collinsville and Fairview Heights, on June 3.
Nick Dodson, a delegate to both the Madison County Federation of Labor and the Southwestern Illinois Central Labor Council, is president of the local, and the vice president is Tommy Kowalski. Other executive board members are Dan Harrison, Bob Barger, Pat DeGonia and Prescott Whitaker.
“We welcome Local 360’s officers and members to our family,” said Publisher Ed Finkelstein.