New leadership at Painters Local 10

Painters Local 10 president Roben White finished his three-year term June 18, and was succeeded by Mike Keebaugh.

Local 10 represents about 750 painters and drywall finishers in a jurisdiction that encompasses Southwest Washington and Oregon north of Salem. It’s one of 14 locals in five states that are part of Painters District Council 5. Most Local 10 members work under master agreements with the Signatory Painting Contractors Association and the Associated Wall & Ceiling Contractors of Oregon and Southwest Washington. Local 10’s president leads general membership meetings, heads the Executive Board, and represents the local at the district council and central labor councils. It’s an unpaid office. White opted not to run for re-election, for health reasons, and Keebaugh ran unopposed.

Keebaugh, 43, has been a Local 10 member since he went to work as a painter for the City of Portland Parks and Recreation Bureau 13 years ago. He’s one of five Local 10 members employed by the City. It was a discipline-happy manager that first motivated him to get involved in the union.

“I wasn’t getting what I thought I needed in terms of representation,” Keebaugh said, “so I decided to show up to meetings and start educating myself.”

Over time, Keebaugh became more involved in Local 10, and served as a trustee, sergeant-at-arms and Executive Board member. And at the City, he became a steward, and twice served on the bargaining team for the seven-union District Council of Trade Unions.

Keebaugh said he ran for president so he could serve on the City’s budget action committee. He also hopes to get members more active in the union.

White, 57, has been a member of the Painters Union since the late 1970s, starting with Local 101 in Eureka, California, and transferring to Local 10 in 2000 when he moved to the Portland area to be near his mother.

“I feel if you’re in a union, it’s your responsibility to be active in it,” White said.

White was elected Local 10 president in 2010 to serve the remainder of the term of Bob Potter, who resigned. He was re-elected in 2011. He was active in the Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon central labor councils.

White said he didn’t run for re-election because health reasons prevent him from working in the trade: He suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and years as a painter may have contributed to that. White plans to stay active in the local labor movement. He’ll also lead Food System Care, a native-led non-profit organization dedicated to improving the food system in Clark County, Washington. White was born on the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation, and is a member of the Lakota Oglala tribe of Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Before becoming a painter, he worked up and down the West Coast as a construction contractor, commercial fisher and diver, paramedic, motel and restaurant operator, and in the electronics industry in Singapore.

Besides Keebaugh, other Local 10 members sworn into office June 18 were: Wyatt McMinn, vice president; Jack Johnson, financial secretary; Mike Bokamper, recording secretary; Kevin Davis, warden; and Brian Meyers, George Ranum, and John Madewell, trustees.

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