By TIM ROWDEN
The recent voluntary merger of Laborers Locals 42 and 53 is going to be good for the membership and good for contractors, said Local 42 Business Manager/Secretary Treasurer Brandon Flinn and Charlie Bean, former business manager for Local 53.
Local 42 now has a membership of roughly 1,850 and a territorial jurisdiction covering roughly the northern two-thirds of St. Louis City and County.
That diverse and far-reaching membership will be a boon to contractors, Flinn said.
“It’s easy to come to us now not only for skilled journeymen, but minority apprentices and trainees who are city residents and county residents that representing one of the most diverse construction locals that exists,” Flinn said.
Locals 42 and 53 were all a party to the same construction agreements, Health and Welfare plan, pension plan and training fund, which helped make the merger virtually seamless.
“We’re excited for the future,” Flinn said. “I think it’s going to be good for the local and our members.”
MORE BANG FOR THE BUCK
The roughly 418 active members of the former Local 53 will not only be gaining access to a wider territory but also a level of representation they haven’t had in the last couple of years.
Following the economic downturn and the long, slow recovery, Local 53 was forced to cut back on administrative expenses, going from having a business manager, two business reps. and two administrative aides, to having just a business manager and an administrative aide.
Bean agreed, at the request of the Laborers International Union, to shoulder the responsibility and an effort to get Local 53 back on solid ground. He served as the business manager, organizer and field representative. That worked for a while, and Local 53 was able to regain some of its former footing, but Bean was spread too thin.
That’s when the International suggested Bean and Flinn look into the possibility of a merger.
“It wore on me,” Bean said. “We showed a profit last year,” Bean said of his former local. “But it wore on me. In all fairness to my members, they’ll get more bang for their buck with the merger. Instead of one guy looking out for them, they’ll get five. And it will create a lot of opportunities for our locals.”
Bean, who has 25 years of experience, will be working as a field representative and organizer.
“It’s a good pooling of resources that going to allow us to provide better representation to everyone,” Flinn said.