Last year, Plumbers Local 12 members elected Frank Amato to serve as one of the union’s business agents. He is no stranger to the local, however. For the past five years, Amato has focused on organizing as the director of business development and recruitment.
A plumber since 1989, the business agent wasn’t always a Local 12 member. As a high school student enrolled in his town’s vocational technical program, one of his instructors told his class that unions were terrible. The impressionable teen believed the falsehoods. After graduating, Amato worked for some non-union plumbing and heating shops and later established his own plumbing business in partnership with his brother.
It was Joe Ferraro, his future father-in-law and a member of Operating Engineers Local 4, who set him straight about unions and encouraged him to apply to Local 12. Once he joined and understood the financial security, the benefits, the training, the fellowship, and other advantages that the local provided, Amato became an evangelist for the organization.
“I appreciated how much Local 12 had helped me and saw what it meant to other members,” he says. “I thought how great it would be to get the word out to non-union plumbers–to share my story and to dispel the myths and misrepresentations.”
That led him to the organizing position. Now, Amato says he hopes that he can serve as an example of the opportunities available to members.
“That’s one of the reasons I ran for business agent,” he says. “I saw an opportunity and I wanted to give back to the union that’s done so much for me and my family.”
In addition to representing projects and Local 12 business in parts of Boston, Amato is also focused on areas outside of the city. For example, he oversees the Plumbers 911 program, which connects homeowners and small businesses throughout the region with Local 12-affiliated plumbing contractors. And he was elected to be the president of the Merrimack Valley Building Trades.
“By helping the building trades deal with issues and developing relationships with general contractors and politicians, I feel that I can help secure more jobs for Local 12 members,” Amato says.
“It’s great to have Frank on our business agent team,” says Tim Fandel, the local’s business manager. “He brings a lot of experience as well as a lot of passion to the position. We are fortunate to have him.”