In May of 1943, during World War II, the first Steamfitters were dispatched from UA Local 377 in Walla Walla, Washington to a top secret government job that would later be known as part of the Manhattan Project at Hanford, Washington. The world’s first full scale plutonium production reactor, which is the B Reactor, was built during this time at Hanford. The plutonium manufactured at the site was used in the first nuclear bomb test and then in the nuclear bomb “Fat Boy” detonated over Nagasaki, Japan, essentially ending WWII in 1945.
During the summer of 1944, UA General President Martin Durkin came to Hanford’s Manhattan Project while serving on the National War Labor Board. He met with the head of the project, Major General Leslie Groves and his assistant Colonel Frank Mathias to discuss some labor issues going on at the Hanford Site. A few months later Local 598 received its charter on December 29th, 1944 and Hanford was in Local 598’s jurisdiction.
The jurisdiction of UA Local 598 has grown over the years with several mergers.
- March 1950, Local 377 in Walla Walla, Washington, which was chartered in 1903, was merged with Local 598.
- April of 1961, Local 820 in Moses Lake, which was chartered on April 24, 1956, was merged into Local 598.
- February of 1972, Local 591 in Grand Coulee, chartered in August 1937 merged with Local 598.
- August of 1973 Local 549 in Yakima, chartered November 1929 was merged into Local 598.
- Pendleton, Oregon received a charter in June of 1904 as Local 362 and then again in March of 1914 as Local 634 which became part of Local 598 on an unknown date.
Local 598 continues to do a variety of work in our jurisdiction, power plants that are nuclear, coal, co-generation, ethanol, bio mass and bio diesel. We also work on paper mills, food processing plants, cold storage facilities, data centers, silicon plants, chemical plants, gas plants, carbon fiber plants, and miscellaneous manufacturing facilities. Local 598 is proud to be one of just 16 Locals out of 330 Locals within the UA that have Mainline Pipeline jurisdiction. We also have built and maintained some of the world’s largest hydro electric dams. Our workforce is currently building the Waste Treatment Plant known as the VIT Plant for nuclear waste at Hanford, coming full circle from the Nuclear Production days to the cleanup mission that is currently going on.
Looking back over Local 598’s history, its members can take pride in the contributions the Local has made to our local industries, communities and the overall quality of life in Eastern Washington and Northeast Oregon.
Although nothing remains the same as evidenced by the technological changes to our industry, we hope some things never change, such as the spirit of cooperation between Local 598 and our Union contractors. We share a common interest in quality workmanship, safe work projects and a satisfied customer. The attention to detail, craftsmanship and the hard work of our members is an example for all to follow.
As Union members, we will always safeguard, advance and promote the principles of collective bargaining while protecting the working rights of working people. We will continue to share the common bond of brotherhood, working together to strengthen the labor movement. The fight for secure, good paying jobs cannot be waged and won by individual workers looking out for their own interest. It must be waged by workers joining together, speaking as one voice for wages, benefits and working conditions.
Today’s members are determined to keep our Union strong. We have a proud heritage, it has been entrusted to us and we will carry it on so that quality jobs, at fair pay, in a decent work environment will be passed on to our successors.