By Wes May ECA Executive Director Email: [email protected]
The ECA wants to join in the chorus of organizations saying thanks and happy retirement to John L. Smith, an icon in the history of Laborers Local 1184 and the entire Southern California Laborers Union.
Local 1184 was chartered on September 13, 1937, covering Riverside County (and later Imperial County) in Southern California. John became Business Manager/ Secretary-Treasurer in 1967 and served in that capacity until his retirement from office on March 9, 2017, an astonishing 50 of the 80 years that the Local Union has been in existence.
John’s journey began when he joined Local 1184 in 1961, working as a Laborer and union steward for Del Webb Construction. In May 1963, John was hired as a Field Representative working out of the Local’s desert office. He was elected President of the Local in 1966, appointed Business Manager/Secretary Treasurer in 1967, and was reelected to that position in every Local 1184 election for the next fifty years.
Of his many accomplishments as a labor leader, John is most proud of his role as an organizer, bringing union wages and benefits to the unorganized employees throughout the Inland Empire in Southern California. From the very beginning of his career, John worked to expand the strength of the Local Union by organizing industrial, production, maintenance, landscape, and public employee units. In the 1970’s he had 27 country clubs and golf courses under contract. By the early 1980’s, Local 1184 was much more than a construction union, representing employees in nearly 50 bargaining units outside of the construction industry. Under John’s leadership, Local 1184 grew from 400 members in 1967 to 4,500 members today.
John’s big job for our industry has been the Bargaining Committee that negotiated the Laborers’ Construction Master Agreements for Southern California from 1974 to 2012. He also served on the Riverside Democratic Central Committee, the Executive Council of the State Building Trades Council of California, as a Vice President of the California Labor Federation and as a delegate/officer of the Riverside/San Bernardino Building Trades Council and Central Labor Council.
John has had a great career as a leader for his union and we salute him for his contributions to our industry.
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