Member Feature: Donnie Potter, Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons I.A. Local #18



Donnie Potter is a Business Agent for Operative Plasterers & Cement Masons International Association Local #18. He has served Local #18 for 11 years, first as a Field Rep and now as an elected Business Agent. He was finishing concrete with his Dad at 12 years old so you might say he was born into the trade. According to Retta Marks, Administrative Assistant for Local #18, Donnie is quite passionate about his job. She said ,“He protects the work of the Finishers.”  She added, “He’s been in the position of not having work and having a family to feed. His #1 job is for the members and taking care of them the best he can.” Donnie completes his daily tasks with the help of Retta and Assistant Business Agent, Jerry Cox.

A Business Agent’s job is never done. As daily tasks grow, he/she has to think about the future of their trade as well. Donnie believes the survival of his industry is deeply rooted in youth.  He says, “It is crucial to the future of this industry to be able to make the construction industry something young people are interested in.” He thinks recruiting events like 8th Grade Expo are important to all building trades. “[Career fairs] held by the industry is an excellent way to show these young people about the different aspects of construction . . . “

Finishers’ future is also rooted in their ability to train a skilled workforce to guarantee the best work ethic and quality workmanship on a job site. Donnie says the Joint Apprenticeship Training Council has been working to improve the Apprentice Program. Improvements include a training center in Morton, IL, a full time Apprenticeship Instructor/Coordinator (Mark Hitzner), continual review of the training program to add new training and offering Journeyman upgrade classes. These actions and the consolidation of contracts to allow contractors more freedom of movement in his 10 county area are all advances to make his members more valuable to contractors and improve the union construction industry as a whole.

Labor-Management cooperation is also important to his trade. “Labor-Management relations in the Peoria area are second to none.  We deal with several contractor associations in our area. Peoria is an area that benefits from labor and management realizing that they benefit from each other rather than being adversarial.”

Donnie also finds opportunities to preserve his union’s past. “Masons and Plasterers have been in the Labor Temple since before my Dad got in and that was in 1963.” Donnie sees the Labor Temple as a historical monument for the building trades. “It all began right here.” He would rather preserve the building than build new which is why he supports the check-off he and his members are contributing to the Labor Temple Building Fund.

Donnie grew up in Peoria, moved to Pekin, has been married to his wife, Ann, for 38 years, has two children and five grandchildren. He enjoys drag racing, riding his motorcycle and camping. He also likes restoring American muscle cars. He hopes his next project is a 1970 or ‘71 Plymouth GTX 426 Hemi.

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