Pictured form left to right are Keith Swaggert, Pete Truhlar, Carl Krohn, and Ben Sackett
Plumbers Local 15, Minneapolis, MN, members Keith Swaggert, Pete Truhlar, Carl Krohn, Ben Sackett and Local 15 Business Agent Tom Pahkala volunteered to brave the sweltering heat on July 18, 2019, to give back to one of their own, DeAnne Hartwig.
DeAnne is a Communications Workers of America (CWA) member who had been living without a working kitchen faucet for five years and without running water for nine months after her water lines burst last winter and she couldn’t afford to repair them.
Local 15 was contacted by Working Partnerships about a member who was in need. Working Partnerships provides assistance to union households experiencing financial hardship. In addition to providing direct services, Working Partnerships provides workforce training and union job information, works to increase union member volunteerism in community activities and encourages participation in non-partisan civic engagement.
Local 15 Business Manager Scott Gale said, “Doug Flateau, the Executive Director of Working Partnerships, had reached out to me about a CWA member who had been in contact with him. She was going through some tough times, and he described her situation to us. He asked if there was anything we could do to help. I said, ‘I can definitely commit people to assist with this,’ and from there I involved one of our Business Agents, Tom Pahkala, to spearhead the project.” Brother Gale added, “As a local union, we want to be able to help a union member in need, especially those in our community. This project seemed like a good opportunity to do that.”
Tom Pahkala decided to drive out to DeAnne’s house and speak with her directly to assess her exact needs. “There was a great need,” Brother Pahkala said. “Once I saw the need, I started soliciting some of our contractors for material. Our contractors stepped up, and Spring Plumbing donated material, and H2C Heating, Cooling & Plumbing donated time for the trucks and tools. Then, I got volunteers to come out for the day. We knocked it out in a day and got her running water.”
The Local 15 volunteers installed a new kitchen and bathroom faucets, a new water line from the main to the water heater and new water lines from the water heater to every fixture in her house. When they were finished, Brother Pahkala stated that DeAnne said she was speechless. “Once I heard the water flowing for the first time in almost five years in my kitchen sink, I wanted to cry,” DeAnne said.
Local 15 has been involved with Working Partnerships for years. Business Manager Scott Gale said, “A lot of times it’s assistance with groceries or trying to find other avenues to get them help—utilities, bills, things like that.”
Business Agent Pahkala said that Local 15 tries to participate in these projects every time they pop up. “I’m a firm believer in giving back to the community, and it’s one of the best things we could ever do.” DeAnne said, “It showed me that no matter what type of union we are in, we all have each other’s backs.”
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