SMART Local 3 (Omaha, Nebraska) won a huge victory for area workers in May 2023, partnering with newly formed contractor Christopherson Plumbing, Heating & Air to bring the business into union signatory status. And unlike many organizing campaigns, this one was initiated by management.
“Approximately two and a half months ago, I was approached by Matt Christopherson, owner of Christopherson Plumbing, and Brian Wilhite, owner of Wilhite Services,” explained Local 3 Business Manager Jason Kirchhevel. “They came to me and explained how they were going to merge their respective companies.”
Christopherson had worked as a nonunion plumber for 15 years before starting his own business; when he became a contractor, he signed with Plumbers Local 16 in Omaha, where he experienced firsthand the value of organized labor and the union training model. When Christopherson and Wilhite decided to merge, Christopherson immediately began explaining the benefits of being a union contractor — the meeting with Local 3 soon followed.
“We set up a meeting and tour of our training center,” Kirchhevel added. “After several other meetings, giving tours, explanations of wages, benefits and training to the employees, everything fell in place. As of May 1, 2023, we signed the contract and created the partnership.”
Such signatory campaigns demonstrate the fact that union labor helps all parties — both employees and employer. Great work, Local 3!
Pictured above: Back row, left to right: Brian T. Wilhite (fifth-year apprentice), Steve Terwilleger (Local 3 business rep.), Jason Kirchhevel (Local 3 business manager/financial secretary-treasurer), Brian D. Wilhite (owner/member), Matt Christopherson (owner), Dustin Blessing (Local 3 journeyperson), Mitchel Anderson (first-year apprentice), Tyler Fox (journeyperson), Joshua Ross (Local 3 organizer). Front row, left to right: Treyton Foutch (pre-apprentice), Noah Nienaber (pre-apprentice), Michael Labenz (first-year apprentice), Anthony Davis (journeyperson).
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