THE BOILERMAKERS LOST a champion and committed unionist when Charles “Chuck” Westphal, former president of the Michigan Tri-County Building Trades and member of Local 169 (Detroit), died April 11.
Westphal’s family is deeply-rooted in the Boilermakers union: His father, two brothers, his son and a nephew all are, or were, Boilermakers. He began his Boilermaker career in 1970 and eventually became a business agent, supporting four business managers until his retirement in 2006. He served as President of the Michigan Tri-County Building Trades during much of his career, negotiating an all-union project labor agreement to build and maintain the Soaring Eagle Casino and Hotel — which became a major project in Michigan.
“It is easy for us to forget what individuals bring to the table to help one another,” said John Marek, retired L-169 Business Manager-Secretary Treasurer. “Chuck brought much aid to our organization by his efforts, his influence and his persistence. Those who knew Chuck will miss many things about him — his knowledge, wit and pride for his organization the most.” Westphal was a key player in the success of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers’ Fight Back program, proactively strategizing and organizing campaigns to reclaim Boilermaker work and regain union ground in his area.
“Chuck was absolutely committed to doing whatever it took to make the Fight Back program work,” said International President Newton B. Jones, who led the program. “His Fight Back representation of L-169 was a model for others, and L-169 certainly benefitted from his leadership in that role.”
In addition to his Boilermakers work, Westphal served his country in the National Guard. He was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed hunting, fishing and spending time with his grandchildren. He served on the board of Camp Fish Tales, a campground in Pinconning, Michigan, that offers summer recreational opportunities to people with disabilities.
He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Marilyn, and his children and grandchildren.