By TIM ROWDEN
Members of Sprinkler Fitters Local 268, the Greater St. Louis Labor Movement and the fire safety community feted longtime business manager of the Local, Sept. 25, with a retirement send-off at the Union Hall.
Mike Mahler has been a member of Local 268 for 41 years, served as business manager for 23 years and as an officer for 36 years. He also served as vice president, and until his retirement, as president of the St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council.
Local 268 Vice President and Business Representative Bob Stuart is the new business manager.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have known Mike as a boss and a teacher. Most of all he’s been like the brother I never had,” Stuart said, reflecting on a recent email he received about Mahler’s work to change the fire industry in St. Louis.
“Mike always had the saying, ‘Leave something better than the way you found it,’” Stuart said. “And that’s what he’s done in St. Louis. He’s left his mark.”
Mahler was honored by the St. Louis Fire Sprinkler Alliance and received plaques from the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA) and the St. Louis Metro Chapter NFSA.
NFSA President Shane Ray reflected how when NFSA started promoting a program called Fire Team USA, an informational/training conference on fire protection in the community, “Mike would always help me whatever we were doing. You guys supported us as we promoted this industry as we pushed for coverage and I just want to say on behalf of NFSA, thank you for the support.”
Andy Bill, president St. Louis Metro Chapter NFSA, thanked Mahler for his dedication and hard work in promoting this industry.
For his part, Mahler thanked his membership.
“This was a dream job. I was given the opportunity and privilege to lead the membership of this local,” Mahler said. “Everybody in this local has heard me say a number of times, I was just steering, actually trying to lead from behind, because a union is the actual members. It’s really those guys out there who have really made this thing.
“I’ve been around all over the country. I’ve had a lot of exposure to all the other local unions. I’ve put in a lot of hours, but I did it because it was all worth it. I know now, having been to some of those other places, that when those guys don’t get the support or their members and aren’t out there working – and I mean working for the benefit of all their other union brothers and sisters – it’s got to be a lot tougher job,” he said.
“I was privileged to serve as your business manager or your officer,” Mahler stressed. “I really appreciate that, and thank you for that opportunity.”
Mahler was initiated into Local 268 on June 6, 1978. He served on the Local’s executive board from 1990-92, as president from 1993-95, as financial secretary treasurer from 1996-97 and as business manager from 1997 to 2019.