IUPAT DC 53 Retired Member Spotlight: John Schmidt

John Schmidt’s Union journey began in 1979 when he joined Local 91 as an apprentice, marking the start of an exceptional career with IUPAT DC 53.

A Philadelphia native who lived the majority of his life in Wheeling, John’s extensive career spanned residential, commercial, and industrial sectors. While specializing in drywall finishing and commercial painting, he embraced diverse projects, including a stint in industrial work, drawn to both the challenges and financial rewards.

Along with his skills at multiple trades, John assumed the role of recording secretary. Marking the beginning of years of dedicated service for the Union. His commitment expanded as he took on the roles of apprentice coordinator and instructor, actively contributing to the training and development of apprentices for six to eight fulfilling years.

“I really enjoyed the hell out of it. I like seeing the light go off in somebody’s eyes when you’re trying to explain something,” Schmidt said, “Even if I had to explain once, twice and on the third time you explain it. You can see that look in their eye, like a light bulb just went off ‘oh yeah, now I get it.’ I just love that.

He later assumed the roles of business agent and organizer before retiring in 2014, accumulating an impressive 35 years of service.

Reflecting on retirement, John highlights the positive impact of his pension and Social Security, providing a more comfortable income than during his working years. He expresses gratitude for comprehensive benefits, including age insurance, ensuring peace of mind and a fulfilling retirement.

One aspect of retirement that John dearly misses is the camaraderie with fellow workers across different trades.

The unique and irreplaceable bond formed through shared experiences with painters, plumbers, carpenters, and more remains a cherished memory.

“I miss the camaraderie. I miss seeing the guys. Not just the painters. I miss joking around with the plumbers, the carpenters, the electricians, the superintendents,” Schmidt said.

Beyond his union work, John served as a Job Corps instructor in Coburn, Virginia, contributing to the development of at-risk youth.

John’s retirement advice emphasizes the importance of consistent contributions to the pension and annuity. He acknowledges that a well-funded retirement plan is a game-changer, allowing him to live comfortably and engage in fulfilling activities without financial stress.

John Schmidt’s story encapsulates a life dedicated to union service, teaching, and fostering a sense of community. His journey stands as a testament to the profound impact unions can have on the lives of their members, both during their working years and well into retirement.

“What are you going to do if you’re not in the Union? You’re not going to get a pension, going to get an annuity, you’re not going to get health insurance.I got a livable wage, got a pension, got an annuity and good insurance,” Schmidt said, “When I retired, I had the annuity, money and pension. It’s a game changer, I couldn’t live on my social security. Without the pension, I still have to be working.”