O'Connell Plumbing Local 12 support Afghan refugees Newburyport MA

Plumbers lend a hand to refugees

With a war raging, mass shootings, and other unrest, the world can often seem like an unsettling and unfriendly place. But amid the chaos and confusion, it’s heartening to find acts of kindness and compassion that demonstrate the basic decency to which most folks aspire. There are inspiring stories, even in dark circumstances, that can help restore one’s faith in people. This is one of those stories.

When the Taliban took over Kabul in 2021, conflict and the threat of violence displaced even more Afghans from their long-suffering, war-torn country. Millions of them sought refuge in other places. A few Afghan families ended up in Newburyport. The community opened its doors and its hearts to welcome them. Local 12 and the Greater Boston Plumbing Contractors Association (GBPCA) heeded the call and supported the efforts.

It was Hugh Kelleher, a longtime Newburyport resident, retired Local 12 member, and retired executive director of the GBPCA, who made the connection. He read about the refugees’ plight in the local newspaper and learned that the city’s religious leaders were seeking help and donations to provide shelter for the Afghans. When Kelleher saw that the temporary housing lacked some basic plumbing needs, that piqued his interest.

“Over the years, there have been many projects that Local 12 and the contractors have helped out on,” he says. “I thought this would be a very worthy project.”

Kelleher contacted John Marani, president of the GBPCA, and Tim Fandel, Local 12 business manager, seeking their assistance. Both were eager to help, and the organizations’ trustees decided to get involved. The two groups joined forces and funded a grant to underwrite the cost of labor and materials needed to perform the plumbing work at the living space provided by the Unitarian church, one of the city’s participating houses of worship.

As Rebecca Bryan, minister of the First Religious Society Unitarian Universalist Church, explains, its congregation is hosting a large Afghan family in Parish Hall, a building adjacent to the church. Typically used for Sunday school classes and social functions, the converted living space did not have a shower, nor a washer or dryer. Bryan, who serves as Newburyport’s chair of Interfaith Coalition of Clergy, reached out to Kelleher, who had helped do plumbing work at the temporary housing provided by the city’s Episcopalian church for another refugee family.

Kelleher brought in Kevin O’Connell, owner of O’Connell Plumbing and Heating in Salem, to look at the project. Together, they determined that a shower could be added to the existing bathroom; a closet could be converted into a second bathroom, with a toilet, shower, and sink; and a washer and dryer could be installed in the hall. They also realized that a larger hot water heater would be needed.

“Honest to God, they didn’t just help out,” the minister says about the plumbers. “What they did was remarkable. They just made it happen.”

When Norman Fine at supply house F.W. Webb heard about the project, he offered a hot water heater, gas piping, and all other plumbing materials at a greatly reduced cost. Thanks to the grant from the union and the GBPCA, the Local 12 members working for the Salem shop got paid for their work, but O’Connell did not add any profit to the job.

According to the contractor, an architect from the church volunteered to draw up plans for the project. That was indicative of the broad-based support that the community provided.

“We had to move some heavy supplies,” O’Connell says. “The next thing I knew, the Newburyport High School basketball team showed up to help.”

Over 100 people have been involved with the refugee family at the Unitarian church alone, Bryan estimates, helping them learn English, book medical appointments, and navigate services, among other things. Hairdressers, bike shop owners, and others in the city have stepped forward to do their part.

O’Connell can empathize with the refugees and understands the outpouring of support. “It’s terrible to be uprooted from your home, having to live someplace completely different and foreign,” he says. “It had to be extremely disorienting and frightening for them.”

Mohammed, one of the members of the family, had been a security guard at the U.S. embassy in Kabul. When the American security forces began withdrawing from Afghanistan, the Taliban moved in and took control of the city. They began going house to house to interrogate the residents and paid a visit to Mohammed.

“They knew that he had helped the U.S.,” Kelleher says. “The Taliban were not going to be fans of this guy.”

He and his family ran out the back door, escaped to the airport, and somehow got on a plane. Their journey took them to Qatar and then Germany, before landing in the U.S. and staying briefly at military facilities in Virginia and New Jersey. Eventually, the refugees made their way to Newburyport.

The family is enjoying the newly outfitted home in the church’s hall and is appreciative of the help they’ve received from the plumbers and others in the community. Likewise, Bryan says that she and the congregation are grateful for the plumbers’ support.

“I can’t say enough positive things,” she adds. 

The living space is full of life, laughter, and good food, according to the minister. The family have made Newburyport their home. When one of the daughters graduated eighth grade, she was given an award for perseverance. “I could cry,” says Bryan, when sharing the accomplishment. “The whole city has embraced them, and they’ve embraced the city.”

The goal, eventually, is to help the family find permanent housing in the area. The organizations that have been helping all the Afghan families in Newburyport hope to create three properties that would be designated for refugees in perpetuity.

Organizations support tech schools

The GBPCA joined forces with Local 12 and recently donated a total of $9,000 to three vocational schools in the region: Madison Park Technical Vocational High School in Boston, Quincy High School’s Career Vocational & Technical Education Program, and Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School, located in Haverhill.

“It’s important to make the programs strong so that the students get a top-notch education,” says Andrew DeAngelo, the PCA’s executive director, explaining one of the motivating factors for the gifts. By connecting with the programs, it also helps plumbing students bridge the gap between graduating from a tech school and joining the workforce in the field. “It helps make sure the students know about the opportunities in the local and are familiar with our contractors,” DeAngelo adds.

It is also a great way for Local 12 to attract young people interested in the trade. In addition to the donations, the organizations have ongoing relationships with the vocational programs. Both the union and the PCA regularly conduct sessions for juniors and seniors, letting them know resources that are available, what they have to do to apply to the local, and other info.

The donations are intended for plumbing instructors to purchase materials, equipment, and other items that they need for their shops and programs, but that the school district may not have included in their budgets.

Separately, the PCA made an additional donation of $1,400 worth of power tools to Madison Park. Among the items were Milwaukee impact drivers and batteries, an electric air compressor, and a Dewalt brad nailer. 

“The executive board of the PCA wanted to make a big impact at Madison Park,” says DeAngelo. The executive director got in touch with the school’s plumbing instructor to find out what the program could use. “We took his direction and ran with it.”

New Somerville High plumbing program

As part of its Center for Career and Technical Education, Somerville High School started a plumbing program as well as an HVAC program during the last school year. The programs are in the city’s new school, which opened in March.

To help support and guide the plumbing program, representatives of Local 12 and the Plumbing Contractors Association joined the school’s advisory committee. Among their roles, they will assist in developing curriculum for the new program. Committee members include Frank Amato, director of business development and recruitment for Local 12, Matt Messinger, recruitment specialist for Local 12, Andrew DeAngelo, PCA executive director, and Dan Bent, executive VP for PCA contractor American Plumbing and Heating.

According to DeAngelo, in addition to their work on the committee, the industry leaders will support the Somerville High program with donations, help facilitate field trips, assist with job placement, and conduct info sessions about Local 12’s apprenticeship program for the school’s juniors and seniors. “We get involved in a similar way with the plumbing program at Madison Park in Boston,” he says.

The tech schools provide a feeder program of sorts for the union’s training center. “We want to give city kids an opportunity to have a shot at the apprenticeship program,” DeAngelo adds.

Jeremy Ryan Executive director Greater Boston Plumbing Contractors Association

The GBPCA bids farewell to Jeremy Ryan

In February, Jeremy Ryan stepped away from his position as the executive director of the Greater Boston Plumbing Contractors Association. He had served in the role since mid-2017, taking over from Hugh Kelleher.

“Jeremy brought a lot of new, fresh ideas to the organization,” says Joe Valante, president of Valante Mechanical and one of the GBPCA presidents who served alongside Ryan. “We had a great working relationship. That was important when COVID hit, because we worked closely together and with Local 12 to figure out how we would move forward during the challenging period.”

Ryan cites the upturn of involvement as one of his most significant accomplishments. “Member engagement is way up. To me, that’s the main thing,” he says. “When contractors are engaged, the organization is stronger.”

Among the changes he initiated, Ryan booked different venues where the GBPCA scheduled its meetings. By targeting a variety of locales, he was able to appeal to members where they were and significantly boost attendance, according to Valante. That, in turn, helped increase participation of the organization’s contractors.

In addition to navigating the pandemic, one of the most difficult and disruptive crises of modern times, Ryan helped the organization’s members respond to the natural gas disaster in the Merrimack Valley and assist in the recovery efforts for the affected communities. He also represented the contractors in four successful collective bargaining sessions with Local 12.

The scholarship fund has grown considerably during Ryan’s tenure and the GBPCA has been able to give more and larger scholarship awards to recipients. That’s been partly due to the general increase in participation among members. The events that generate funds for the program, such as the golf tournament, regularly sell out and have been raising more money.

The success can also be attributed to Dan Bent, executive vice president of American Plumbing and Heating, and another GBPCA president who worked together with Ryan. “Dan has been passionate about the scholarship program,” Ryan says. “He put a lot of energy in it, and the contractors rallied behind him. They take a lot of pride in the program.” In addition to increasing the annual scholarships, the organization has been able to establish an endowment to help sustain the program.

Other GBPCA highlights that took place with Ryan as executive director include hiring and training the organization’s first director of public affairs, getting more involved with community organizations, moving the office to Braintree, increasing the size of networking events, and becoming a chapter of the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (see related article in this issue).

“Jeremy has blazed a new path for the GBPCA,” says Andrew DeAngelo, director of public affairs. He will take over from Ryan as the organization’s new executive director. “A great testament to what he’s done over the past few years is the shape in which he is leaving the association. It is solid thanks to his strong leadership,” adds DeAngelo.

He says that the two Industry Nights the organizations presented in 2018 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum and in 2021 at the Encore Boston Harbor are indicative of the role Ryan has played at the GBPCA. “They were massive venues, and the turnout was huge. Everyone was excited to attend,” says DeAngelo. “They are the embodiment of what Jeremy has done here.”

Tim Fandel, business manager of Local 12, notes that Ryan has been a great partner advancing the work of the two organizations, keeping the lines of communication open, and strengthening the labor and management bonds. “We are going to miss Jeremy and wish him well in his future endeavors,” he adds.

“I think the contractors and Local 12 have a special and unique relationship,” Ryan says. “It’s why the plumbing industry in Boston really sets itself apart.”

Andrew DeAngelo takes over as GBPCA director

Andrew DeAngelo takes over as GBPCA director

With Jeremy Ryan’s departure, Andrew DeAngelo took over as executive director of the Greater Boston Plumbing Contractors Association in February. Because he had been serving as the organization’s director of public affairs for about three years, the transition has been seamless.

“He has been working hand in hand with Jeremy and understands the issues,” says Joe Valante, president of Valante Mechanical and a past GBPCA president. “Andrew is going to do a great job.”

DeAngelo was the first person to hold the newly created director of public affairs position at the organization. He describes the post as a combination of public relations and lobbying. DeAngelo has been focusing on several regulatory initiatives and legislative issues such as medical gas and drain cleaning bills as well as paid family medical leave. He has also been representing the industry on climate policy legislation.

His work has also taken him into the community where he has worked with many organizations. DeAngelo has been serving as chairman of the plumbing advisory committee at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School in Roxbury and has also been serving on the plumbing advisory board of Somerville High School’s Center for Career and Technical Education. He has also been working closely with the pre-apprenticeship program, Building Pathways.

Prior to coming to the GBPCA, DeAngelo was a project coordinator for Building Pathways, which provides a gateway for low-income area residents into the construction trades. During his time there, he helped manage the program and established relationships with the training directors, business agents, and business managers of the area’s building trades, including Local 12. Earlier in his career, DeAngelo held other positions which brought him into contact with the region’s construction industry and gave him valuable experience.

Born and raised in Dorchester, DeAngelo grew up in a union household. His father is a retired electrician and member of IBEW Local 103.

“Andrew has a deep breadth of knowledge about our industry. He is highly intuitive and understands the market and the contractor base,” says Tim Fandel, business manager of Local 12. “He will be a great partner to continue some of the initiatives we have been working on to grow market share.”

“What Andrew has been able to do in the public affairs position is a testament to his knowledge of the construction industry in Boston as well as his ability to interact with people,” adds Ryan. “He is a great ambassador for the plumbing industry.”

In addition to the public affairs work he has been doing, DeAngelo has been involved with other GBPCA projects. For example, he started a mechanical aptitude prep course for candidates applying to Local 12’s apprenticeship program. He has also been working closely with Ryan on any number of the organization’s issues. The two describe their relationship as having been less of a boss and employee and more of a partnership.

“We have worked very well together,” says DeAngelo. “We are like-minded and have complemented each other well.”

DeAngelo says that he plans to pick up where Ryan left off and continue the momentum that the departing executive director has brought to the organization. “I want to maintain his vision moving forward, because I think Jeremy set a great tone and course,” he adds. “I also want to continue his spirit of innovation and advancing the industry.”

“Andrew is going to bring the GBPCA to higher heights,” Ryan says about his successor.

GBPCA is now a chapter of MCAA

This past January the Greater Boston Plumbing Contractors Association became an affiliate chapter of the Mechanical Contractors Association of America. The national organization represents and serves contractors working in the plumbing, piping, mechanical service, heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration industries.

Based in Maryland, MCAA offers educational materials, training programs, conferences, conventions, trade shows, and other resources to help contractors attain managerial and technical expertise. It publishes materials such as safety manuals, reports, bulletins, documentation sheets, and guides as well as videos to keep companies and their employees informed about industry developments and trends. The association also advocates on behalf of industry-related issues in Congress.

MCAA membership will provide many benefits for the GBPCA. “Our contractors will have access to all kinds of resources,” says Andrew DeAngelo, GBPCA’s executive director. “They’ll be able to glean a lot.” He also notes that MCAA works closely with the United Association, the parent organization of Local 12. “They are essentially a counterpart to the UA.”

GBPCA donates $35,000 to area charities

For the second consecutive year, the Greater Boston Plumbing Contractors Association made a sizeable donation to support several non-profit organizations throughout the region. It gave a total of $35,000 to seven charities in late 2021.

“The PCA has always given back,” says Andrew DeAngelo, executive director. “But we’ve made a concerted effort over the past two years to make donations to organizations that help members of the community who have been struggling during the pandemic.”

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, the association targeted some of its donation funds to organizations focused on feeding people, providing shelter, and offering health care. including Father Bill’s MainSpring. The charity has been helping people in Southern Massachusetts for the last three decades. Father Bill’s

mission is to end and prevent homelessness with programs that provide emergency and permanent housing and help people obtain skills, jobs, housing, and services.

Community Servings, located in Jamaica Plain, was founded in 1990 to provide home-delivered meals to individuals living with HIV/AIDS in Dorchester and Roxbury. Since then, the organization has evolved to a regional program serving nutritionally tailored meals and providing nutrition education to thousands of people per year across the state.

The mission of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) is to ensure unconditionally equitable and dignified access to the highest quality health care for all individuals and families experiencing homelessness in our community. The tireless work done by BHCHP is

needed now more than ever in the most vulnerable neighborhoods in Boston.

Founded in 1906 by a group of immigrant boys from the densely populated West End neighborhood of Boston, the West End House has served the youth of the city ever since. Services offered by the West End House include a full-body fitness program, nutrition education, arts mastery, and career readiness. The West End House also prepares young people for high school graduation and college completion.

Around the holidays, the PCA gave a second round of donations to three additional groups. Starting in 1989, Boston’s Christmas in the City has been presenting non-denominational holiday events for children and families experiencing homelessness and poverty. Because of the pandemic, the organization brought toys and other “comfort and joy” to people living in local congregate shelters and to many other families in need of assistance in lieu of an event.

Located in Roxbury, Rosie’s Place was founded in 1974 as the first women’s shelter in the U.S. Today, it is a multi-service community center that offers a food pantry, ESOL classes, legal assistance, wellness care, one-on-one support, housing and job search services, and community outreach as well as emergency shelter and meals.

Another holiday donation recipient was The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Roxbury. Its programs include sports and recreation, creative arts, an aquatic facility, culinary training, and social services.

“When the struggles of those less fortunate are amplified, our members thought it appropriate to give to organizations that help people in need,” says John Marani, president of the GBPCA.

Bargaining in good faith

Earlier this year, members of the Greater Boston Plumbing Contractors Association and Plumbers Local 12 sat across from one another and ironed out the details of a four-year contract. The document they developed specifies the terms and conditions by which contractors employ the Local’s plumbers and includes issues such as wages, benefits, and safety practices. The process for the meetings, which included representatives of both management and labor that negotiated on behalf of their groups, is known as collective bargaining, and the result of the negotiations is a collective bargaining agreement.

The collective bargaining process is at the very heart of what unions are all about. It is one of the key attributes that distinguishes Local 12 members and the union’s affiliated contractors from their counterparts at non-union plumbing shops and the plumbers who work for them. The employee-employer relationship is fundamentally different.

According to both sides, the negotiations reflected the positive relationship that the PCA and Local 12 leadership have enjoyed for many years. Unlike the stereotype of labor and management being inherently suspicious of one another and, in some cases, at each other’s throats, the two organizations operate more out of a common belief that in partnership they can help each other succeed. It’s a collaborative rather than an adversarial relationship.

“The best deal is one that benefits both sides,” says John Marani, president of the PCA and lead negotiator for management at the collective bargaining meetings. “That’s the attitude we went in with, and that characterizes where we landed.”

Tim Fandel, Local 12’s business manager and the chief negotiator for labor, expresses a similar view. “Our shared goals are woven together,” he says. “There is an underlying incentive for us to reach an equitable agreement.”

That doesn’t mean it is always sunshine and rainbows. The two leaders acknowledge that the sides have their differences and separate objectives as well. While they might not agree on everything, however, they say that they are always respectful of one another. And when they reach an impasse, they resort to a time-honored negotiation strategy: compromise.

As an example, Local 12 came to the table asking that Martin Luther King Jr. Day be recognized as a formal holiday. After some discussion, MLK Day was added to the holiday calendar in the collective bargaining agreement. Including the paid holiday imposed a financial impact on the contractors, a point that Fandel acknowledges.

Jeremy Ryan, the contractor association’s executive director, noted that he believes the plumbers are the first trade in Boston to make MLK Day a full holiday. “I think that speaks to the leadership of the PCA and Local 12. It’s a great thing for our industry.”

The contractors proposed increasing the number of miles for which they must compensate plumbers commuting to job sites from 50 to 75. “It was a reasonable ask,” says Fandel, demonstrating another instance of compromise at the negotiations. Among other items included in the agreement were some language changes. For example, to reflect changing attitudes and encourage diversity, “journeyman” will be updated to the gender-neutral term, “journeyperson.”

Both labor and management take the “collective” in collective bargaining to heart. Marani says that it was vitally important to him that the negotiators representing management spoke with one voice for the contractors. To that end, he and Ryan sought and welcomed input from all signatory shops, received a lot of good feedback, and was able to advocate on behalf of contractors of all sizes for a variety of issues.

To make the necessary concessions and move the process forward, both Marani and Fandel say that they tried to consider each other’s perspectives. They also tried to consider the state of the construction industry and project where it might be heading, which is never an exact science. The Boston area has been on a remarkable, long-term tear since 2009. But the industry historically endures both boom and bust cycles. The future may be vague, but the agreement that they hammered out provides continuity and certainty for both sides as they face whatever lies ahead.

During the negotiations, the two groups looked even farther into the future and discussed issues that may not be of concern for another 20 or 30 years. Fandel says that even though it’s difficult to know what the state of the industry will be then, it’s important to start thinking and talking about upcoming concerns for the collective bargaining agreement now.

In the end, both sides considered the bargaining process and the agreement to be successful. “You want the person you’re negotiating with to be of good word,” says Marani. “Tim proved that he was an honest and forthright guy. We tried to be the same way.”

Likewise, Fandel believes that the successful negotiations came down to mutual trust. “That’s why it works so well,” he says. “It’s a covenant between us.”

Tom O’Brien, Jeremy Ryan, John Marani at Greater Boston Plumbing Contractors Association Industry Appreciation Night 2021

GBPCA event celebrates industry

Typically, the Greater Boston Plumbing Contractors Association presents its Industry Appreciation Night every two years. The biennial event was supposed to take place last year, but as with so many things, the pandemic disrupted the schedule. If there was any apprehension that people might be hesitant to attend the large-scale celebration because of COVID, those concerns were roundly laid to rest when Industry Appreciation Night came roaring back this year. The PCA welcomed a huge crowd of more than 450 people to the Encore Boston Harbor in Everett on October 1.

“Everyone who was there raved about how wonderful the event was and what a good time they had,” says John Marani, president of the PCA and owner of A.H. Burns Company. He lauded Jeremy Ryan, the organization’s executive director, Andrew DeAngelo, its director of public affairs, and the member contractors who serve on the PCA’s committees for their hard work organizing Industry Appreciation Night. “It was really a home run,” he added.

The event is an opportunity for the PCA’s contractors, the Local 12 members with whom they work, and their partners in the community to celebrate the plumbing industry and the region’s dynamic construction and development sectors. It features guest speakers as well as the presentation of lifetime achievement awards, which this year honored Joe Valante, Sr., the founder of Valante Mechanical, and Vin Petroni, president and CEO of E.M. Duggan. Joe Valante, Jr., the president of Valante Mechanical, and Kevin Walsh, executive vice president of E.M. Duggan, gave warm and moving introductions of the honorees.

Joe Valante Jr., Joe Valante Sr. and Dick Valante of Valante Mechanical at Greater Boston Plumbing Contractors Association Industry Appreciation Night 2021
Joe Valante Jr., honoree Joe Valante Sr. and Dick Valante of Valante Mechanical at Industry Appreciation Night 2021.

The keynote speaker, Tom O’Brien, founding partner and managing director of HYM Investment Group, set the tone for the evening by highlighting some of the key reasons he believes Boston is such a successful market for commercial development and construction. These include the city’s terrific institutions, such as its colleges, hospitals, and non-profit organizations, and Boston’s strong residential character. “We need to continue to add housing,” O’Brien said. “We should do it on a union-built basis with Local 12.”

The developer also cited the city’s predictable process as a factor that contributes to its supportive environment. “Capital wants to be involved and successful here,” he said. “Projects are built on a schedule we all understand.” O’Brien then identified some of the signature projects that HYM is building in partnership with the PCA’s contractors, including the redevelopment of Suffolk Downs in Revere and East Boston, Bulfinch Crossing in downtown Boston, and a facility in Brookline that will be the first of many senior housing developments. “Working together, we’re going to continue to make this city work well and create opportunities for one another along with the people who work for us,” he added.

Len Mondfredo, Kevin Walsh Mayor of Everett, Carlo DeMaria Vin Petroni of EM Duggan at Greater Boston Plumbing Contractors Association Industry Appreciation Night 2021
Len Mondfredo and Kevin Walsh of EM Duggan, Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria, and honoree Vin Petroni of EM Duggan at Industry Appreciation Night 2021.

Other speakers included Marani, Ryan, Local 12 Business Manager Tim Fandel, and Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria. Holding the event at the Encore gave guests the opportunity to see and experience the magnificent hotel and casino, which opened in 2019, just months before the pandemic forced its temporary closure. The resort, which was entirely union-built, was one of the largest construction projects ever in the region.

John Marani III president of Greater Boston Plumbing Contractors Assoc

John Marani elected president of GBPCA

At its annual meeting in May, the Greater Boston Plumbing Contractors Association swore in its new officers and executive board, including John Marani III as the organization’s president. He will serve a two-year term.

Marani, owner of GBPCA contractor A.H. Burns in Rockland, says that he has enjoyed representing the organization in other positions he has held and is looking forward to taking the helm.

“John has many years of experience in the industry and is a respected leader of GBPCA,” says Jeremy Ryan, the organization’s executive director. “He is also passionate about the industry and has some great ideas to help us move forward as the pandemic winds down. I know he will do a great job.”

Among the biggest things on his plate, Marani says that he will be participating in the negotiations of a new contract between the contractors and Local 12. When they sit down at the bargaining table in the fall, the labor and management groups will try to gauge where the industry and the larger economy will be heading post-pandemic.

It’s difficult to know for sure, of course, but Marani is bullish about the state of the region’s construction market. “I’m shocked at how well our area has recovered,” he says. “We were minimally affected by the pandemic.” Marani points to the amount of work that is permitted and the financing that is in place as indication of the industry’s resilience and strength. “I’m an optimist by nature. I want to believe it’ll be okay,” he adds.

Marani says that he has a great relationship with Tim Fandel, Local 12’s business manager, and is looking forward to expanding it in his position as GBPCA president. Their rapport is indicative of the way that the contractors work collaboratively with the union in general. “We have a model relationship,” says Marani. “We set an example for the rest of the country.”

The relationship, he believes, is one based on mutual respect and an acknowledgment that both groups can achieve great things when they work together. “Our contractors have had enormous success over the past ten years. But we didn’t make it happen alone,” Marani says. “It’s a joint effort. We need qualified plumbers.”

To that end, he notes that Local 12’s training program produces some of the most qualified workers in the U.S. And, Marani says, the union’s business agents are level-headed. “I’m proud to be associated with Local 12. My hope and my expectation is that our great relationship will continue.”

Marani succeeds Joe Valante, Jr. as GBPCA president. He presided over a difficult period as COVID-19 virtually shut down the region’s construction sites in early 2020 and caused much uncertainty and disruption for the industry. It also dealt a blow to vulnerable people in the community. In response, Valante helped spearhead efforts on behalf of GBPCA and Local 12 to donate about $100,000 to charitable causes.

“Through Joe’s empathetic, personable leadership, he was the right guy for the position during the pandemic crisis,” Ryan says. He also credits Valante for helping to hire Andrew DeAngelo as GBPCA’s director of public affairs, thereby increasing the organization’s outreach and making inroads with important initiatives.

Through the decades, GBPCA contractors A.H. Burns, Valante Mechanical, and E.H. Marchant Company have all been friendly competitors based in the Quincy area. All three union shops used to belong to the same Quincy local (which has since become part of Local 12). Larry Petrilli of E.H. Marchant, Joe Valante, Sr. of Valante Mechanical, and Marani’s father, John, all supported each other. The contractors borrowed each other’s tools and plumbers. “To me, it’s the way business should be,” Marani says. 

Now, the second-generation owners of the shops continue the tradition and work cordially with one another. For example, Marani often calls Mike Petrilli for advice. “Mike is very bright,” he says. “He has helped me a lot through the years.”

Petrilli, who has long been active with the GBPCA (and its predecessor, the PHCC of Greater Boston), encouraged Marani to get involved with the organization. With Marani’s election, the three contractors have each taken their turns leading the group. Petrilli served as president from 2009 to 2011.

Other GBPCA members elected to the executive board include Paul Dionne of PJ Dionne Company, vice president; Ken Reagan of Cannistraro, clerk-treasurer; and Jim Bent of American Plumbing & Heating, assistant clerk-treasurer.

As part of the annual meeting, the GBPCA awarded more than $50,000 in scholarships and awards. Recipients included 23 students who are the children of member contractors, their employees, and the Local 12 plumbers who work for them. For this year’s essay, scholarship applicants were asked to write about the many ways that COVID-19 made an impact on their lives. The organization also gave awards to five top Local 12 apprentices, one from each class.