Desmond Thomas

Year: 2022
Location: Edmonton
Profile: Desmond Thomas is a member of the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union, Local 488, Edmonton. He belongs to the Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation, and was a labourer in northern Alberta in his early working life. But alcohol problems resulted in conflicts that led to jail time. After several attempts at rehabilitation, his life changed significantly after joining the Tradewinds to Success program at the Poundmaker Lodge in Edmonton. Through that program he enrolled in an apprenticeship program at Local 488’s Alberta Pipe Trades College and began working as a pipefitter in a fabrication shop. He talks about the struggle to maintain a career free from the self-doubt and alcohol addiction that hampered his earlier efforts. He praises the master tradespeople who mentored him patiently and wisely, emphasizing pride in the skill and perfection that are crucial to his trade. He congratulates his union for the superior terms and conditions gained for its members, with particular praise for the health and safety standards that are crucial in his work. But he expresses concern about the anti-union atmosphere and the assault on living standards that plague a resource-rich province.
Keywords: Alberta Pipe Trades College; Alcoholism;Anti-union atmosphere in Alberta; Local 488; Mentoring in unions; Plumbers and Pipefitters Union; Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation; Tradewinds to Success Program.
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See also: Health and Safety; Indigenous Labour in Alberta; Plumbers and Pipefitters Union; Systemic Racism