Local 164 Senior Council Rep Darren Bonass Appointed to Delaware County Uniform Construction Code Appeals Board
Q & A
How is it that you were chosen to be a member of the Delaware County Appeals Board?
Our council is very active in Delaware County politics. For the first time in history, the Democrats gained the majority in the County Council and these new members of the Council saw value in local tradespeople serving on these boards. I am honored to have been chosen to serve on this board and serve my community.
What will be your biggest focus while being on the Board throughout this term?
My focus will be to ensure that any construction in our community is done safely and up to code.
What do the members of the community and this council mean to you?
I believe one of the most important aspects of this job as a Council Representative is to promote and educate the community. For the most part, the community only hears about the negative side of unions or only notices us when we are bannering or protesting with Rat’s. They may not understand how the job we are protesting can hurt our community. For instance, maybe that job is not paying local taxes, money laundering may be involved, the workers are being exploited, or maybe even human trafficking is involved. With that said, we need to make sure the community understands that our Council’s main focus is fighting for family-sustaining wages and benefits for all carpenters.
I do see more families in my community looking at the trades as an option instead of college and I love this trend. There is no better feeling than helping a new member from the community join our organization. But in order for that member to be successful, we need work to keep them employed. By getting involved in the community we can show off our skills and also educate our neighbors.
What made you want to be on the Council staff as a rep and Senior Council Rep?
When I first got into the Union, I realized from the start that the Carpenters Union not only provides a job and great benefits but also a career and a way of life. This sense of family made me want to give back and be an active member. Early on I was elected as a Conductor followed by Treasurer, Alternate Delegate, and eventually a Delegate for my Local. My desire to serve the members as a council representative was reinforced when I had a chance to attend a Delegate training at the International Training Center in Las Vegas. The fact that the UBC and my council were willing to invest so much in training and education strengthened my desire to become a Representative. A couple of years later when I asked to interview for a Council Organizers position, I jumped at the chance.
How and when did you decide you wanted to join the union?
I was in my late 20’s and working several low-paid jobs with little or no benefits. It was at one of those jobs that I happened to meet the Business Agent from our Local. He talked about the upcoming apprentice test and the benefits of joining the Carpenters Union. To be honest, it actually sounded too good to be true. I had just bought a house and my wife and I just had a baby so I was looking for a career. I took the apprentice test and with help from the Business Agent, I was fortunate to get a sponsor right away. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. Because of the training and benefits, I was able to provide a better life for my family and gain a skill that can never be taken away. It also seems carpentry is in my blood. In a recent search of my family tree, my great-great-grandfather who emigrated to the US in the 1800’s was listed as a carpenter (Stair Builder) in New York on the 1867 census. He eventually moved back to Ireland in 1884.
Is there any specific job you worked on that you are most proud of? Community project?
One of the most memorable community projects that I was involved in was a house renovation of a decorated Veteran in West Chester, PA. With our members working nights and weekends and the material being supplied by a local supplier, we were able to completely renovate the Veterans house. I was very proud of our members for their time and dedication to this project.