In August of 1910 the United Association granted a
charter to form a local for work in the San Gabriel Valley of southern
California. Local 398 began dispatching from what was then the dusty
agricultural town of Pomona (population 10,000) half a day's journey
from downtown Los Angeles on the Southern Pacific rail line. More than
a century later Local 398 is still dispatching plumbers and fitters
from its new offices in Rancho Cucamonga.
The Local's jurisdiction stretches from the peaks
of the San Gabriel Mountains to the lowlands of the basin, including
more than twenty major towns, among them heavily populated Pasadena
(135,000), Pomona (150,000) and Ontario (163,000). Its current
membership stands at about 1,000 members, with 160 apprentices in
various levels of the training program.
Local 398 is led by Business Manager Ray LeVangie,
who has spent 35 years as a working member, business agent and elected
official of the union. The Local's business agent is John Sherman and
its organizer is Chuck Stratton. They are assisted in their work by the
very capable Debbie Whitford. Together these four conduct the work of
the Local, which all agree consists of two elements: getting members to
work and keeping contractors happy.
Business Manager Ray LeVangie notes that his
members "work all around the Los Angeles basin and in the surrounding
counties of Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino-wherever their
contractors will take them." Prominent employers include H.L. Moe, the
Murray Company and Pan Pacific Plumbing.
Among the Local's larger projects is the San
Antonio Community Hospital in Upland. UA contractors ACCO, Excel and DK
Mechanical are currently expanding the facility from 279 beds to 343
beds, with project completion expected in 2013. By the time of
completion the facility will employ over a hundred Local 398 hands.