Plumbers union memorializes its members at Mount Pearl Local
By Mark Squibb | Vol 7 No. 16 (Aug. 15, 2019)
Driving along Sagona Avenue, it’s impossible to miss the over 20-foot-high wrench decorating the yard of the United Association of Journeymen & Apprentices Local 740. That’s the official handle of the province’s plumbers and pipefitters’ union.
Now, there’s another unmissable landmark on the property.
A large granite memorial wall flanked by park benches and flower pots was officially unveiled Friday, Aug. 9.
Etched in the memorial are the names of 261 deceased members of Local 740, with room to add more names over the coming years.
Dozens and dozens of family, friends, and union members were at the unveiling to pay their respects, reminisce about old times, and celebrate loved ones.
“It’s wonderful, the fact that they’re remembered for the things that they’ve done, but sad at the same time,” said Joanne Murphy, one of those in attendance.
Murphy is the aunt of the late Jonathan Murphy, who was killed on a jobsite accident in Alberta on April 29 of this year.
His is the third most recent name on the wall, and at 24, he may well be one of the youngest members memorialized.
Gerald Daley is the former president of Local 740.
He started with the union in 1972 and knew many of the members memorialized on a personal basis.
“Over time you sort of forget names. But you come here and look at a name and it brings a lot of positive, good feelings,” he said. “All of the them had a story. There was a lot of comradery, a lot of fun times, with theses people.”
Daley said that many of the members were leaders in the union. “They showed great leadership. They were the people who took us through negotiations that improved our wages, our working conditions; they spearheaded the move to our pension plan, health and welfare, they made the traditions of unionism throughout our local,” he explained.
The monument, Daley added, is something the local can take great pride in.
“We take pride in taking the initiative in having this monument,” said Daley, who noted that he believed it to be the only one of its kind in the province. “The staff put a lot of work into this and a lot of research to get the dates right.”
“Our executives and staff and members were really interested in the project, and everybody helped out a lot,” said Bob Fiander, the current business manger at the local.
Being in the local for twenty-odd years, Fiander too knew many of those memorialized.
“We’ve had some fun over the years; a really tight knit group. Everybody knew everyone,” he said, even though members worked across Canada. “They loved the work and put out a great product.”
During the dedication service on Aug. 9, both past and present members spoke, while Betty Shea, former executive sectary, and Ben McCann, former business manager, laid a wreath. Father Joseph Barton of the Corpus Christi Parish blessed the monument.
Construction began late last fall, and the project was paid for out of pocket by the local.
Once a year, Fiander said they will add names of recently deceased members.