110 years. That is how far back the legacy of Local 449 goes. While it may seem like a lot of years to be in business, the history goes beyond that. Thanks to Frank Gray, every first year apprentice learns the complete history in a class called the History of Steamfitters 449.
Not only is Frank Gray a 4th generation Steamfitter, he is also a full-time instructor with Steamfitters Local 449, teaching members throughout all 5 years of their apprenticeship program. Union pride runs deep with Frank, as his great grandfather was one of the 10 charter members of Local 449.
Steamfitters Local 449 started May 13, 1913 and over that 110 years of rich history, he reminds members of the evolution through milestones in the trade. . In this 16 hour training course, apprentices learn about the development of Local 449, as well as the struggles and obstacles that the union has overcome to get to where they are today.
One important event included is a mention of Local 449 combatting the great depression. Frank elaborates a little more on the subject saying, “At that time only 20% of our membership was working, and even though they took pay cuts, they still put funds together to gather food and other essentials to help out those members not working. During that time period, we never lost one union member, because that 20% were also assisting with union dues.”
In the 39 years that Frank has been a Local 449 member, he is most proud to teach the History of Steamfitters 449 class. Appreciating the history and being proud of his journey, Frank talks about the importance of the class saying, “They have to know where we came from.. Not just Local 449, but all the unions in this country. We go back to the 1600s with union members fighting for the rights for fair pay. They need to understand what people have fought for and why we have what we have today thanks to those who came before us. We need to instill this education, as well as the brotherhood and sisterhood into members, because that is how we got to where we are today. Union brothers and sisters have each other’s backs.”