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Jan 05, 2024

These videos are of Local 302 Hoisting and Portable (construction) members. They aren’t professional actors and they didn’t have a script. They were recorded in living rooms and around kitchen tables over coffee and photo albums. They’re telling you their own stories in their own words.

Some joined Local 302 because they followed their family member's footsteps. Others had to wait patiently. Some came in as permit hands, others as oilers, and still others as apprentices. Once they became Local 302 members, they were part of its proud history and tradition, learning the skills and lessons from experienced journeymen and passing them on to young apprentices. 

All of them recognize the important difference Local 302 made to them and their families: a safe and stable retirement with a good income, excellent health care which created a great standard of living and a lifetime of memories and pride in a job well-done every time they drive on a highway they graded, a boat channel they dredged, or a building they erected.

And while Local 302 made a difference in their lives, they have individually and collectively made Local 302 what it is today: One of the most well established and respected labor unions in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska with outstanding benefit and training programs and highly-skilled and hard-working hands. 

Bob Pittenger: After graduating high school, Bob Pittenger worked his way up to Alaska with a friend and eventually wound up on the cat train that constructed the Defense Early Warning System (DEW) line. A gifted storyteller, Bob’s accounts of Alaska are both fascinating and humorous, including “The man who could see through snow”. Bob returned to the Lower 48 and became a dispatcher and then the District 3 field representative during the height of the Satsop power plant construction.

Bob passed away on November 16, 2019, RIP Brother Pittenger (1928 - 2019)

Dick Fuller: Dick Fuller joined Local 302 in 1955 working on a drill rig at the High Gorge Dam, where he lived in camp. Hired by Russ Conlon, he worked in the Local 302 dispatch office and was elected and served as president of Local 302.

Dick passed away on March 25, 2022, RIP Brother Fuller (1931 - 2022)

George Verheul: Although he came from a union family, George began his career as a surveyor and led a survey crew for many years before he joined Local 302. In his first dispatch to the Satsop Nuclear Power Plant job, George recalls he was making a lot more as a “stake painter” than as a crew leader and with much better benefits. George is retired now, living next door to the training center outside Ellensburg, WA.

Glen Allen: A native of eastern Tennessee, Glen was taught in school that unions were evil, but after a stint as an Army Engineer in Vietnam, he was able to join Local 302 and today enjoys something his former classmates seldom didn't — a decent pension check — which allows him to pursue his favorite hobby, restoring vintage motorcycles.

Herb Miller: Herb began his career as a scraper hand on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in 1975, shifting to the Satsop Nuclear Power plant. Eventually, he was appointed by newly-elected Business Manager Larry Johnson where he worked extensively in Local 302’s organizing program. He describes in detail the success of the “salting” program.

Jeff Schmelzer: After serving on destroyers in the Vietnam War, Jeff started as a permit hand in 1969. When the Trans-Alaska Pipeline began, Jeff found himself running scraper at Five Mile Camp. He ran a radar construction project on Amchitka Island and worked at Satsop Nuclear Power Plant and served briefly as a Local 302 field representative in the Yakima, WA area.

Larry Johnson: Now retired, Larry Johnson was elected Local 302 business manager in a special election in 1990. In this video, Larry recalls his early days in Local 302 and his colorful experiences working on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline including run-ins with bears and Teamsters.

Leon Tomasic: After several unsuccessful attempts to join the Operating Engineers in Ohio, Leon hitchhiked to Alaska in 1975, arriving in time to work on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, starting at Franklin Bluff Camp. Leon shares his pipeline experiences and time as a job steward.

Leon passed away on March 29, 2022, RIP Brother Tomasic (1948 - 2022)

Clyde Wilson: Son of Local 302 business manager Jack Wilson, Clyde began his Local 302 career oiling for several veteran crane hands, going onto marine construction. In 1995, Clyde was elected business manager and retired in 2001.

Clyde passed away on April 4, 2019, RIP Brother Wilson (1942 - 2019)

Al Crosswhite:  A 75-year member of the Operating Engineers, Al began his career at Hanford and then moved onto dam construction, then moved west and did dirt work.  Eventually, he moved to Alaska where he and his wife Karen founded KC Construction, a Local 302 contractor.

Al passed away on August 15, 2019, RIP Brother Crosswhite (1924 - 2019)


Charlie Barton:  Even though his father was an operator, Charlie had to work at Boeing until he got his first dispatch. Charlie worked as a mechanic in Alaska and Washington.


Dale Reid: Born and raised in Petersburg, AK, Dale worked for A.C. Green throughout Alaska, and served as district representative in Juneau for nine years, then retired briefly but came out of retirement to serve as Labor Commissioner Click Bishop’s chief of staff.


Doug Frizzell:  Doug recalls it took 3 operators to sign off in order to become a full-fledged Local 302 member. “They were putting their reputation on the line for you, and it really meant something when they did,” said Doug. He shares some great stories about organizing and serving as a salt. 

Doug passed away on January 26, 2021, RIP Brother Frizzell (1943 - 2021)


18701 120th Ave NE
Bothell, WA 98011
  (425) 806-0302

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