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Local 203 celebrates milestone in Newfoundland

L-203 BM-ST Jerry Flaherty welcomes guests to the gala evening.

NEARLY 200 CURRENT and retired Boilermakers from Local 203 (St. John’s, Newfoundland) and guests gathered August 10 in Newfoundland and Labrador’s capital St. John’s from throughout the province and far beyond to celebrate the local’s milestone 50th anniversary.

“There isn’t a unionized industrial site in Canada that Local 203 members have not helped to build or contributed to the maintenance of,” said L-203 Business Manager-Secretary Treasurer Jerry Flaherty, welcoming the crowd at the gala event. “We are proud to be part of this great organization, and it shows here, tonight, with this wonderful turnout.”

Joining L-203 were Boilermakers and leaders from across Canada and the United States. The local was founded July 7, 1969, but L-203 postponed their celebration to coincide the 2019 Canada Boilermaker Industry Tripartite Conference in New Brunswick to make it easier for faraway guests to travel to both events.

International President Newton B. Jones, whose second job with the Boilermakers was with L-203, was among honored guests.

“I had the opportunity to come to work in Newfoundland at a place called Come-by-Chance,” President Jones told the crowd. “And I’ve got to tell you, everybody was fantastic. I had a lot of good experiences right here. It builds you into a pretty good person.

“I want you to know it was probably one of the very best experiences of my life, right here. I want to thank you for the opportunity that you gave me and that you give to all the young men and women who try to make a life for themselves as union Boilermakers.”

As part of the evening’s festivities, BM-ST Flaherty presented President Jones with his pin signifying his (belated) 45 years of Boilermaker membership. (Note: President Jones has been a Boilermaker for 47 years.)

The gala event included a reception, formal dinner, speeches and dancing, and capped off with entertainment by The Spirit of Newfoundland, a performance group that gives local residents and visitors a “taste of Newfoundland culture” through music, video, comedy skits and audience participation. “Out-of-town” guests, including President Jones, were invited to the stage to be made honorary Newfoundland citizens through a “screeching in” ceremony that, among other elements, involved kissing a codfish and taught the audience as much about the province’s history, lore and culture as it did Newfoundlanders’ sense of humor.

“You deserve to celebrate and enjoy tonight,” said IVP-Canada Arnie Stadnick. “You guys have been supplying solid, skilled, qualified people in this industry for decades, and I wish you many, many more years of success.”

Retired L-203 Boilermaker Bill Moore summed up the reunion-like party atmosphere expressed by many guests: “It means a lot to be here. I’ve seen guys here I haven’t seen for 20-25 years, and it’s unbelievable. That’s one of the best things about being a Boilermaker: All the people I’ve met over the years. I met a lot of good people.”