The Founding of Plumbers Local Union #8
On the 2nd day of January 1890, this charter was issued to Plumbers Local Union No. 8 of Kansas City, Missouri. Before this time the pipe trades belonged to a National Labor Organization called the Knights of Labor. The three basic crafts in the early 1880's were Plumbers, Steam and Hot Water Fitters and Gas Fitters. Plumbers constituted about 70 percent of the Journeyman membership at that time. At the 1946 convention the original name in the first paragraph was changed to what is now titled, "The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada."
The first convention of the United Association was called to order Monday, July 28, 1890 at 11:20 a.m. with Brother President P.J. Quinlan in the chair. Plumbers Local Union No. 8 of Kansas City, Missouri first delegate to this historical convention was Brother William F. Coakley. The records indicate that Brother Coakley attended subsequent conventions with his last attendance being September 1908.
In the beginning of Plumbers Local Union No. 8, officers served for six (6) month terms with little or no pay. Probably working at the trade and also serving the local as an officer. From its infancy Plumbers Local Union No. 8 has had a steady growth of membership. Since 1956 the term of office has been increased to three (3) years.
The meeting hall and business offices have been at the following locations: 931 Central, 1112 Locust Street, 14th and Woodland (Labor Temple), 101 E. Armour Blvd., and in October, 1980 Plumbers Local Union No. 8 moved into its new building at 8600 Hillcrest Road, Kansas City, Missouri.
Over the past 100 years the materials of the plumbing industry have changed. The Plumber which according to the Webster Dictionary means worker of lead has readily adapted to the changing times. Plumbers Local Union No. 8 has continued to keep abreast with the changes in material and methods of installations. This has been accomplished by our up to date training center not only made available for apprentices but also any Journeyman that felt the need to update their skills.
From the time that Local 8 was first chartered, the officers and the members of Plumbers Local Union No. 8 were well aware of the necessity to train qualified people to replace members who retired, whether they were called apprentices of helpers the results were the same. The local needed to supply the industry with well trained plumbers. This training prior to 1950 was primarily confined to on-the-job-training.
In the early 1950's it became apparent due to the technical changes in the plumbing industry, that more trade related classroom instruction was needed. This not only included the training of apprentices but also for the upgrading of Journeymen. It was with this in mind that the Officers and Members of Local 8 voted to establish an educational committee, whose duties would be to instigate a related training program for journeymen and apprentices.
In 1952 Brother Ed Brink (President of Local Union No. 8) appointed a seven member committee. The Brothers appointed to this committee were: Virgil Chase, Robert Duffy, John Gorman, Homer Harlan, Roy Ogden, Lou Stine and Floyd Stover. The committee after several months of study and with the approval of the membership employed Brother George White as a full time training director. Brother White assumed his duties in March 1953 and immediately started Journeymen classes in lead work, Code Interpretation and Blue Print Reading. The committee not only directed the program but assisted with the instruction in the classroom. In September 1953, the apprenticeship class began with some of the committee serving as instructors until suitable instructors could be found.
The Educational committee was active for about five years. Their contribution to the educational program was immeasurable, because without their dedication and hard work the present day program would have been impossible.
The Educational Committee decided if possible Local No. 8 plumbers would serve as instructors. This decision has been the guideline for the last 58 years and only broken in a few cases where outside expertise was needed. The original teaching staff besides the committee included Jack Davis, Harold Bloodgood, Luke Masur, Tony Privitera and Joseph Oxler.
Educational Director George White retired in September 1988, after 36 years of outstanding service. The joint apprenticeship committee hired Bill Tarpley to replace George White as the new Educational Director. Bill Tarpley served as the Educational Director for 18 years till his retirement on August 2006. The joint apprenticeship committee hired Fred Jonas to replace Bill Tarpley as the new Educational Director currently serving.
Joint Apprenticeship Committee
The Joint Apprenticeship Committee or (J.A.C.) is in complete charge of all apprentice affairs and consists of three members from the local union and three members from the contractors association. The Educational Director works directly for and is responsible to the Committee.
The Educational Committee began its revised training program in Manual High School at 1215 Truman Road in 1953 and remained there till 1963. In October of 1963 the J.A.C. leased a building at 43rd and State Line in Kansas City, Kansas and moved the training facilities there. The fact that more space was needed and they were able to use the welding shop at Manual only one night a week was the biggest factor in the decision to move.
The training center remained at 43rd and State Line for 10 years, but again found themselves short of space both for classrooms and parking. The J.A.C. decided to build their own training facility at 9876 Hickman Mills Drive and moved to that location in 1973.
International Apprentice Contest
Local No. 8 in conjunction with the contractors association has operated a very successful training program over the years as can be attested by their record at the International Apprentice Contest.
In 1954 General President Martin Durkin established an apprentice contest to be held each year on the campus of Purdue University (West Lafayette, Indiana). The purpose of the contest was to determine the best trained 5th year plumber apprentice in the United Association. The contest consisted of a local contest to determine the best trained 5th year plumber apprentice in the local union. The local winner would then compete against the other local winners in the state contest. The state winners would gather in August of each year to complete for the International Championship. There were three places awarded to the first three contestants, not only received the prestige of the winning, but a substantial monetary award (1st place $1,000, 2nd place $500 and 3rd place $250).
During the 20 years of the contest Local No. 8 contestants won 13 state contests and placed in (6) International contests. International Contest Winners were:
Considering the fact that during those 20 years there were 461 local unions in the United Association this has been a very impressive record. The International Apprentice Contest was discontinued in 1974 and has been reinstated in 2006.
Instructors Training Course
In conjunction with the apprentice contest there was a still is an Instructor Training Course, At Purdue University for local union instructors. The course consists of 40 hours a year for five (5) years. The instructors who successfully complete the 200 hours of instruction are awarded a completion certificate. There are fifteen (15) local 8 instructors who have completed the course.
Three members of Local Union No. 8 were instructors at Purdue Instructors Training Course. They were Dave Mathany, Tom Sanders and George White.
Through the years the agreements between Plumbers Local Union No. 8 and its signatory contractors have been made with integrity, fairness and the well being of the consumer and the plumbing industry as its goal. As in any relationship there have been periods of reluctance or holding back before an agreement was reached. The strike of 1954, 1967 and 1999 were examples of these times but afterwards like in any relationship there was a mutual settlement for the benefit of each party.
Health & Welfare
On the 6th of August 1954 Plumbers Local Union No. 8 Health and Welfare Trust Agreement was entered into. The first Plumbers Local Union No. 8 trustees were Lawrence Parkhurst, Henry Wiese and Charles Erisman. The Employer trustees were T.G. Conroy, Ed W. Lochman and Ben Skaer.
In 1958 President Brother Joe Casteldine appointed the original steering committee to look into a pension plan for Plumbers Local Union No. 8. The committee members were Ollie Dodson Jr., Robert Green, Raymon Cozad, A. O. Burt and James L. Corless Jr. The Pension Plan was adopted by the Plumbers Local Union No. 8 membership June 1, 1959. The Plumbers Local Union No. 8 trustees were James L. Corless Jr. (Chairman), Ray Cozad and Robert F. Green. The Associated Plumbing Contractors of Greater Kansas trustees were John B. Keller (Secretary- Treasurer), Don Huxtable and Harry M. Morrison Jr. From the original contribution of $.10 per hour worked by each plumber to now a $4.95 per hour the plan has grown into a $55 million program. The first pension check was presented to Gus Oxler Sr. by James L. Corless Jr. at a meeting at the American Legion Building. Plumbers Local No. 8 joined the National United Association Pension fund in 1990 with a contribution of $.20 per hour and contributing today with $3.95 per hour.
100 years ago Plumbers Local Union No. 8 lost a strike that lasted from the first day of May until the 17th of July. Local 8 was asking for a ten cent per hour increase from forty dents per hour to fifty cents per hour. The Local lost the wage increase at that time but Local 8 did not break ranks and give up its commitment or pledge to maintain its goals of protecting the public from the health hazards that are contributed to installation by untrained individuals.
In 118 years of Plumbers Local Union No. 8's activity in the labor movement the names and faces have changed but like in the century that has passed Plumbers Local Union No. 8 will continue its efforts for a healthier, safer community and a decent repectable continuance of wages and fringes for its members.