By CARL GREEN
Collinsville, IL – The Southwestern Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council will have a new leader after its April 14 meeting, when the council delegates will elect a new executive secretary-treasurer to replace retiring Totsie Bailey.
The delegates – business agents and managers from union locals – will choose between Eric Oller, business manager of Laborers Local 459, Belleville, or Tim Evans, business manager of IBEW Local 309, Collinsville. Oller is currently president of the council and Evans is one of its longest-serving members and hosts the meetings at the Local 309 hall.
Bailey’s son, Charles Bailey, will be vice president of the group in its new configuration. He was the only candidate nominated for the post. He is a business agent for Steamfitters Local 439, Caseyville.
The new president will be either John Schmitt, business manager of Ironworkers Local 392, or Chad Goldschmidt, president and business rep for Operating Engineers Local 520, Pontoon Beach. Both were nominated at the meeting last week. Goldschmidt is now vice president of the council.
Voting will be by secret ballot. Each local’s votes will depend on its per capita membership level.
Totsie Bailey was elected when the previous executive secretary, Dale Stewart, retired in 2018. Oller was elected vice president at that time and later moved up to president.
It’s unusual for the council to have two contested elections at the same time.
Totsie Bailey warned the membership to maintain its unity throughout the process, above all.
“One thing we need to do, guys, is to keep this organization together,” he said. “We can’t have any hard feelings, or anything like that. That’s what the elections are for.”
Bailey, who announced he would retire at the last meeting in February, said people have asked him why he waited so long to say so. “I didn’t mean to give anybody the impression that I was going to stay longer,” he added.
Before Bailey took the post, it was considered to be and operated as a full-time position. Because of funding concerns, Bailey made it a part-time job that allowed him to work full-time when needed, and he stepped down from being business manager of the Steamfitters so he would be available.
Both Oller and Evans said they would continue to work in the same way as Bailey. But Oller said the group should work toward making it a full-time post again.
“I want to let you guys know that Tim and I have spoken and there is no animosity here,” he said. “We’re just working for the good of this organization.”
Evans, a council member since 2007, said he realized he could work in the same capacity as Bailey. “I am in the position now that I could retire from my position as business manager of this local and continue to do it in a part-time capacity,” he said.
Money’s been a little short because the per-capita membership cost has not been raised in recent years, he said. “My idea would be to separate myself from the IBEW and be just the Building Trades executive secretary,” he added.
Oller said a full-time executive would be best for the council in the long run.
“I feel that that’s the only way we’re going to become and stay the strongest building trades in the country,” he said. “I think it’s a shame that we don’t have a full-time guy in the position, and that’s what I’m striving to do.”