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Chicago carpenters union adds 20,000 members under restructuring

The addition of members from a dissolved St. Louis union boosts Chicago’s total over 50,000, making it one of the largest regional unions in the nation.

Students are pictured in 2018 at the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters’ Apprentice and Training Program in Elk Grove Village. The union now represents more than 50,000 workers.
Students are pictured in 2018 at the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters’ Apprentice and Training Program in Elk Grove Village. The union now represents more than 50,000 workers.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Chicago’s largest carpenters union is becoming one of the biggest in the nation under a new restructuring arrangement that will almost double its membership.

The Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters is gaining 20,000 members from the St. Louis regional council that was dissolved last week, the labor union announced Thursday. The move boosts Chicago’s membership total over 50,000.

The shift of members from the former St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council is meant “to increase oversight of operations, reduce costs, maximize available resources and increase market competitiveness,” according to officials from the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.

“This reorganization presents real opportunities to increase our market share above and beyond our 70% target goal,” Chicago Regional Council executive secretary-treasurer Gary Perinar said in a statement. “It’s a win for our signatory contractors, it’s a win for the communities in which we live and work, and most importantly, it’s a win for our members.”

The restructuring will not impact existing collective bargaining agreements, Perinar said.

Besides Illinois and Missouri, the Chicago Regional Council also represents workers in eastern Iowa.