By Billy Howle, President

Don’t forget: This is your union! 

BillyAs you all know, we recently had a member write a letter to our Recording Secretary about making a change to our By-Laws. The change was to increase the dues, which are presently 1.3 percent on straight-time earnings, to 1.3 percent on all earnings, which would mean all overtime. Union dues: 1.3 percent of straight-time wages plus International dues of $17 plus $1 basic dues.

Obviously, any time there is a By-Laws change, it is a big deal and garnishes a lot of attention. Mike Walter and I spoke on this proposed change and wanted to make sure this process was very transparent and handled correctly. If for no other reason, neither of us want to go to jail for breaking any labor laws.

The more I thought about it, I realized that Local 1439’s business is the most transparent business there is – your business. Many positives came out of this motion, and I think members received an education on how some aspect of the business works.

Some highlights of the process that were learned by members were these:

BY-LAWS – Any member wanting to make a change to our By-Laws simply needs to write a letter to our Recording Secretary. If you don’t know who that is, it’s Matt Curry. In that letter, state your motion and explain why you are making the motion. Then, I will read your motion at two St. Louis Regular Monthly meetings, and the rule for voting on your motion will be followed. If you don’t have a copy of the By-Laws, you can come to a union meeting and get one, or call the union office and one will be mailed to you.

 YOUR UNION – The second education that came out of this motion, after many telephone calls and questions, was about financial stability. Members learned how their union works. This is YOUR UNION. You elect a business manager, officers and executive board every three years. 2016 happens to be an election year. You can nominate someone for the positions at the Nov. 8, 2016, St. Louis Regular Monthly meeting or send a letter to Recording Secretary Matt Curry. The nominee must be present at the meeting to accept the nomination to be put on the ballot.

 ACCOUNTING – The other education members received was on how their money (union dues) is being spent. They found out that at any union meeting, the Treasurer’s Report is available to every member. In that report each month, every penny the union receives or spends is clearly listed and will gladly be explained if need be. Anything beyond the day-to-day operations must be approved by your 17-person Executive Board, and Roberts Rules of Order are followed. After it passes the Executive Board, it is read at the St. Louis Regular Monthly meeting, where the members present must pass with a motion, made and seconded, then a show of hands for voice vote for the motion to pass or fail. Bills will be shown on the next month’s Treasurer’s Report, which you can view.


As you can see, your union is the most transparent business there is. It is being scrutinized by your Executive Board, the members, auditors who are CPAs, and finally by the Department of Labor. Unions must file more forms with the government than any other business out there.

Finally, questions were raised about pay for the Business Manager, his Business Representatives, the Officers and the Executive Board. All of this is clearly spelled out in the By-Laws. 

Remember, this year you will be empowered to elect people for the next three years who will be responsible for these positions. You are putting them in charge of running the day-to-day operations of your business and serving your needs. This is our union. Be proud, because we keep the lights on!