“If I had to say something to my younger self it would be, ‘Stay more involved from the beginning. Go to more union meetings. It’s so important for everyone to stay involved.’” –Brian Caulfield
Each week, we’ll share a post getting to know a member of the Guild community. This week, we’re excited to learn from Brian Caulfield, Vice President of Pipefitters Local 537.
Brian has been a member of the Pipefitters since he began as an apprentice in 1986. He first became a steward in 2001, in an experience he considers a “baptism by fire” because of its intensity. Since then, he has worked as a steward and foreman at many sites, and has become further involved in union leadership. Brian is currently working as the General Foreman for Instrumentation at the Salem Power Plant.
According to Brian, experience, education, and training are crucial to success in the Pipefitters because of the diversity of work included. He says that pipefitting is “a very skilled trade. It’s one of those things that you’ll never know it all.” Union members build, install, and maintain pipes in pharmaceutical buildings, semi-conductors, power plants, high rises, schools, and more, so there is always something to learn.
Brian has noticed many ways in which his years of experience have helped him be a better steward and leader on the job. He says that his knowledge of past problems at other sites helps him anticipate what issues will be and keep management honest. This has been particularly important in dealing with issues of jurisdiction— at his current site, there are thousands of people working, and this can create a great deal of confusion that has to be addressed.
Brian has taken classes through the union’s yearly journeyman training, and has been at the Labor Guild for three terms. “I had a lot of questions, and many of them were answered. You get so much more when you’re doing formal training.” One of his favorite classes at the Guild has been Union Administration and the Law with Attorneys Paul Kelly and Lou Mandarini, because “it felt like stealing information. It covered things you just don’t hear about otherwise.”
Attending classes at the Labor Guild is one of the many ways in which Brian dedicates his time and gives his all to his work with the union. As Vice President, he also serves on the union’s bylaws and wage committees. He is motivated to do this work so that he can get more knowledge and experience, as well as a great contract for his members. If he were able to send a message to himself when he started working in 1986, he would say two things. First, “protect yourself more—wear masks, because things like smoke, dust, and concrete can be hazardous.” Second, “always stay involved with your union.”
The Guild is lucky to have Brian as a student and community member!