Saturday, February 12, 2011

Salem Carpenters Union Consolidated

Local 1065 dissolved in January; part of Oregon City office

Steve Carlson (left), president of the carpenters local 1065, and Shawn Harney, work on the Afghan-Iraqi Freedom War Memorial in 2006.
 By Michael Rose 

After nearly 109 years, union carpenters are no longer represented by Local 1065. The union local, chartered in Salem in April 1902, has been swept up in a wave of consolidation ordered by its national leadership.

The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America dissolved Local 1065 and 14 other union locals effective Jan. 24, according to a letter signed by General President Douglas McCarron. Members of those locals still will be represented by the carpenters union, but their old union halls are fading into history.

"I have been a member for 33 years. I have kind of a historical connection to the building and local," said Steve Carlson, the former financial secretary of Local 1065. His new title is service representative for Marion, Polk, Benton, Linn and Lincoln counties.

Former members of Local 1065 are now represented by Local 156, Oregon/SW Carpenters. That local has offices at 276 Warner-Milne Road in Oregon City.

Although union leadership had talked about consolidation for years, the move to close the union locals still caught members by surprise.

"We didn't know about it until the day of," Carlson said of the Jan. 24 shutdown. Local 1065 had last occupied leased space in southeast Salem.

Eric Franklin, a carpenter's union spokesman, said consolidating the locals will streamline operating costs for the union, as well as lowering monthly dues payments for its members to $20 per month. Many union members had been paying about $35 per month for "over the counter" dues, he said.

The industry has changed from the days when carpenters would show up at union halls for a morning roll call to find work. Carpenters now check a union website or talk with contractors to seek jobs. The meeting hall typically is used for one union meeting a month; some locals rent the space to other groups.

"You don't need to have all those offices and all those halls" Franklin said.

For some longtime, active members of the locals, however, the change isn't easy.

"It sort of a death in the family," Franklin said.

Carlson said Local 1065 had 620 members when it closed in January. Membership reached about 775 before the recession took hold in 2008 and the construction industry went into a slump.

It's difficult to determine how many of those members were Salem-area residents because union members can chose to belong to locals outside of where they live.

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I would ask that if you would like to leave a comment that you think of Local 157 Blogspot as your online meeting hall and that you wouldn’t say anything on this site that you wouldn’t, say at a union meeting. Constructive criticism is welcome, as we all benefit from such advice. Obnoxious comments are not welcome.