By TIM ROWDEN
The Greater St. Louis Area Port Council scored a hole-in-one with its golf outing and awards dinner Sept. 9 to honor area Labor and business leaders and raise money for the Council’s PAC fund.
Despite rain earlier in the day, the outing was an overwhelming success and the casual awards dinner at The Landings at Spirit Golf Club in Chesterfield, MO, was enjoyed by all.
Special guests included AFL-CIO Maritime Trades Department Executive Secretary-Treasurer Dan Duncan, Missouri AFL-CIO President Mike Louis and St. Louis County Councilman Pat Dolan (president of Sprinkler Fitters Local 268).
St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger also attended the golf outing.
For those unfamiliar with the Port Council, President Jack Martorelli offered a brief overview.
“We are affiliated with the AFL-CIO Maritime Trades Department, which consists of 21 port and maritime councils, along with 21 international unions representing almost five million workers in the United States and Canada,” Martorelli said.
“We promote and protect workers’ rights. We work to ensure that a rising tide lifts all boats. And we all pull together to keep the American dream alive so that American families have an opportunity for a better life,” Martorelli concluded to appreciative applause before presenting the first award of the evening, the 2016 Labor Man of the Year.
LABOR MAN OF THE YEAR: PAT WHITE, PRESIDENT, GREATER ST. LOUIS LABOR COUNCIL
This year’s Labor honoree was Greater St. Louis Labor Council President Pat White (Gas Workers 11-6), who paid tribute to the Labor leaders he met coming up the ranks in his 27-year career and to the union workers in all the trades he represents as president of the Labor Council.
White started his career as an insulator permit worker right out of high school, before joining Gas Workers 11-6, where he rose through the ranks to business representative and political director.
White’s father, Pat Sr., was a foreman in Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Trades Local 1 where Pat went to work as a permit worker two days after graduating high school.
After three years as an Insulators permit worker, he joined Laclede Gas as a service man as a member of Local 11-6 (then Gas Workers Local 6). After five years on the job, his skills and savvy were recognized and he was elected shop steward for the union, representing some 800 Laclede Gas workers.
During his 12 years as a shop steward, he served as a trustee for three years and then was elected the local’s president for three years until 2006 when he was elected the union’s full-time business representative and political director.
He was elected president of the Labor Council in 2014.
It was those early formative years that White reflected on in accepting the Labor Man of the Year award.
Fresh out of school and just starting to get his union bearings, White said he attended a Port Council awards dinner with his father and Tom Leahy, who was then a business agent for the Insulators. There, he got his first glimpse of Labor leaders like Martorelli, the late Dick Mantia, former Port Council president and veteran executive secretary-treasurer of the St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council, Jerry Feldhaus, former executive secretary-treasurer, Building Trades Council, and others.
“I was probably 19 or 20 years old,” White said. “Dick Mantia was there and Feldhaus and all those guys. I remember going home saying, I don’t know what these guys do, but it’s what I want to do when I grow up.”
White also paid tribute to Port Council vice president, and recently elected Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Building Trades Council John Stiffler (business manager of Insulators Local 1), who was friends with White’s father, and to the members of the various unions that make up the Labor Council.
“It’s my honor to serve with guys like Johnny and Jerry and some of the guys on my executive board to represent everybody from teachers and firemen to plumbers and pipefitters to pipe coverers, you name it,” White said. “It gives me great honor to tell people when they say ‘What do you do?’ It’s great to say that ‘I represent all of those folks.’
“I know that my dad’s up there with Dick Mantia and the rest of the guys watching down,” White said. “I can only hope to do and be as good a man as Dick and Jack and the rest of these guys have been and what they have done for the Labor Movement in St. Louis.”
This year’s Management Man of the Year Award went to Dennis Corrigan, CEO of Corrigan Co.
Port Council Vice President John Stiffler presented the award.
Dennis Corrigan is the third generation of his family to lead Corrigan Co. Founded in 1896 at the dawn of indoor plumbing, Corrigan has grown to serve complex mechanical engineering and construction needs for a variety of industries.
For more than 25 years, Corrigan has guided the firm’s award-winning and customer-focused approach serving energy and nuclear power, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, data centers, public works, commercial and other industries. Today, 16 of the 20 largest high rises in St. Louis have Corrigan installed HVAC systems.
Corrigan has been highly active in improving the mechanical and construction industry locally and nationally. He is past president and current board member of the Mechanical Contractors Association, Eastern Missouri. As a board member of the Mechanical Contractors Association of America, Corrigan serves its government affairs committee.
He is also a mentor for the AGC of Missouri Stempel Mentor-Protégé Program and currently serves on the Saint Louis Construction Cooperative executive committee.
“My grandfather John F. Corrigan founded our company 120 years ago in north St. Louis,” Corrigan said. “On the wall of a conference room in our office hangs his withdrawal card from the Local Union United Association of Journeymen Plumbers, Gasfitters, Steamfitters and Steamfitter Helpers. It’s dated Oct. 1, 1896. My dad always referred to this as the birth certificate of Corrigan Company. We are very proud that Corrigan Company was formed from the trades.”
And Corrigan Co. has succeeded with the trades, Corrigan said.
“We’ve succeeded with our union partners in good times and in lean times because together we always had the foresight to reinvest in our apprenticeship programs and provide safe workplaces,” Corrigan said. “Our legacy will be how well we embrace technology and develop our skills. We want always to stand ready to meet the needs of the owners.”
“Looking forward, St. Louis appears to be on the threshold of a strengthening building market. BJC, SSM, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, Washington University, Monsanto, Pfizer, Centene in Clayton, research campuses, office complexes, infrastructure needs – all great opportunities to build our resume of successful projects and good paying jobs.
“So let’s stick together, always work on our communication and let’s pass on this great industry.”
ABLE HELMSMAN: MIKE O’MARA, ST. LOUIS COUNTY COUNCILMAN
This year’s Able Helmsman Award was presented to St. Louis County Councilman and Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562 member and United Association International Representative Mike O’Mara.
O’Mara recently lost his re-election bid on the County Council but his commitment to working families left a lasting legacy on the board.
AFL-CIO Maritime Trades Department Executive Secretary-Treasurer Dan Duncan presented the award with a brief explanation of what makes an Able Helmsman.
“The Able Helmsman Award is an award that is given to a person who shows extreme leadership, because an Able Helmsman is a gentleman or a lady who sets the course, who decides where people go, where the ship goes and keeps it on a true course and that person is definitely our honoree Mike O’Mara.”
O’Mara is fourth generation member of Local 562, who started 36 years ago and his worked his way up the ladder of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters and is now the international representative.
He has served on the St. Louis County Council since 2000 and currently serves as its chairman. His father, the legendary late Labor leader Jim O’Mara, also served on the County Council.
“It is really a pleasure to be part of the Labor Movement from St. Louis,” O’Mara said. “I’m fourth generation, so I’m proud of that. We have five generations in our family that are pipefitters, so I’m very honored to be part of that and part of the Labor Movement here in St. Louis.”
Fittingly, O’Mara said his first job was with the Corrigan Co., working on a Monsanto project in St. Peters.
“Sometimes we get down and out about the Labor Movement here in this state but we have survived,” O’Mara said.
“We’ve been attacked and we’re going to be attacked again in the next couple of years with so-called ‘right-to-work.’ But with people like Jack and the Port Council and many other people here with the Labor Movement, we’re going to survive.”
O’Mara has reason for optimism. As international representative for the United Association, he covers different parts of the United States, as well as Canada and Australia.
“St. Louis is the go-to club,” he said of the Labor Movement here. “We do great work. We’ve got great people. We provide great education and we give so much back to the community it’s unbelievable. We’re great Labor people here. And we’re going to keep the tradition going on and we’re going to survive here in the St. Louis area.”