Members of United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters (UA) Local 290 elected Lou Christian to a three-year term as business manager in ballots counted Jan. 8. A former assistant business manager of the local, Christian outpolled incumbent business manager Al Shropshire 708 to 561. It was his third race against Shropshire; this time, he campaigned alongside former union representatives Dennis Mask, Joe Neely and John Kimberling. Taking office Jan. 19, Christian will appoint Mask as assistant business manager, and Neely and Kimberling as business agents.
Christian’s campaign centered on stabilizing the local’s finances, increasing financial transparency, improving the apprenticeship experience, and increasing member involvement in decisions about training. He also pledged to take a strong stand against all forms of discrimination, and plans to appoint a committee of members to develop a bylaws resolution about discrimination.
“We’re a brotherhood and sisterhood, and everybody should feel welcome,” Christian told the Labor Press.
Local 290 represents about 4,300 members in the western two-thirds of Oregon, three Southwest Washington counties, and Humboldt and Del Norte counties in California. Specialists in the fabrication, installation and servicing of piping systems, they earn $43.82 hour plus $28.58 an hour in benefits under their contract with the Plumbing and Mechanical Contractors Association, a coalition of more than 250 union-signatory employers.
Christian, 60, is a resident of Tualatin and 39-year member of the UA. Born in Springfield, Christian lived all over Oregon growing up as the son of a school teacher and a union millwright at Weyerhaeuser. After graduating high school in Central Point, he studied welding at Lane Community College and became an apprentice at UA Local 481 (which became part of Local 290 in 1985.)
Over the years, Christian worked as a steamfitter at paper mills, medical facilities, factories, shipyards, and water filtration and nuclear power plants. His most recent job was for Harder Mechanical; his last day there was Jan. 12.
He also served Local 290 as vice president, president, trustee, and delegate to AFL-CIO and building trades councils. In 2001, he was appointed full-time business agent by then-business manager Matt Walters.
Local 290 members also elected:
- President Robert Porter
- Vice president Rick Two Bears
- Executive Board John Foote, Region 1; Shawn Mask, Region 2; Dominic DePiero, Region 3
- Examining Board Eric Fanning and Erv Garrison, ACR: Bill Duke and Jim Eastman, Metal Trades; Ed Burner and Pete Bakker, Oil Burner; Randal Nelson and Ramon Ramon, Pipefitter; Russell Hill and Josh Zimmer, Plumber
- Finance Committee Dave Hauth and Chris McNicholas
- Inside Guard Josh Rudzik