John Endicott retires as business manager of UA Local 290

John Endicott, business manager of Plumbers and Fitters Local 290 for the past decade, retired Jan. 20.

Endicott, 58, was appointed interim business manager in March 2002, following the death of Business Manager Matt Walters. Walters died of a heart attack at age 54.

Endicott was one month into a new job as Walters’ assistant, after working 10 years as an organizer and business agent. Three more senior business agents had all recently retired when Walters named Endicott assistant to the business manager.

“I didn’t aspire to be business manager. It kind of fell into my lap,” Endicott said.
The union’s bylaws place the assistant to the business manager in charge of the local in the event the business manager can’t fulfill the duties of the job. Endicott stepped into the position and subsequently was re-elected for three more terms.

A native of Vancouver, Washington, Endicott grew up in a pipe trades family. His father was a fitter and his grandfather and two uncles were plumbers.

He enrolled in the steamfitters apprenticeship program after graduating from Hudson’s Bay High School in 1972. At that time it was Steamfitters Local 235. [Local 235 merged with Plumbers Local 51 in the mid-’80s to form United Association Local 290.]
Endicott turned out as a journeyman in 1977.

Always an advocate of training and skills upgrading, Endicott taught classes at the training center and went on to complete a five-year instruments training certificate program out of Purdue University. He has served on the joint apprenticeship training committee since 1986.

“It’s all about training — apprentice and journeyman,” he said, noting that last year alone Local 290 completed 50,000 hours of journey-level training.

Endicott was doing service work at Control Contractors in Portland when, in 1988, he accepted an offer from the company to go into management. That lasted until 1992, when Walters hired him as an agent.

During his tenure at Local 290, Endicott has served as either a trustee or co-chair on a half-dozen of the union’s pension, health and welfare, scholarship and apprenticeship training trusts.

He recently resigned as president of the Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council; from the Executive Board of the Oregon AFL-CIO; from the board of the Fair Contracting Foundation; and as a trustee and board member of the Pipe Fabricators Institute of America.

Endicott will finish out his term as secretary-treasurer of the Western Mechanical Association, which expires this July, and he’ll complete his second term to the governor-appointed SAIF board of directors. SAIF is the state-owned workers’ compensation insurance carrier. He was first appointed to the board in November 2004 by Gov. Ted Kulongoski.

Endicott also served a governor appointment to the Boiler Board, one term as chair.
Endicott is turning over the reins of Local 290 — which represents 4,200 workers in Oregon, Southwest Washington, and four counties in Northern California — having recently completed major collective bargaining agreements that will take most of the membership through 2014. He said most of the out-of-work books are clear for fitters, with only scattered unemployment for plumbers. Intel currently has 1,600 fitters on site.

“There’s still not a lot of commercial work out there,” he said.

“It’s been a great run. We have a great group of contractors. I wish all the new folks at the local the very best,” he said.

In retirement, Endicott says he will “retire, retire.” He wants to spend more time with his 4-year-old granddaughter, improve his golf game — “and … you know … I haven’t bought a fishing license in 10 years.”

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