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75 years strong: Eldorado man receives rare recognition for union membership

  • PHOTO COURTESY OF MEESHA BAUGHER WORLEYEd Baugher Jr. displays his 75 year service award from the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers.

    PHOTO COURTESY OF MEESHA BAUGHER WORLEYEd Baugher Jr. displays his 75 year service award from the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers.

  • Ed Baugher Jr. displays his 75 year service award from the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers.

    Ed Baugher Jr. displays his 75 year service award from the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers.
    COURTESY OF MEESHA BAUGHER WORLEY

  • PHOTO COURTESY OF MEESHA BAUGHER WORLEYEd Baugher Jr. raises his hat as a thank-you gesture after receiving his 75 year service award from the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers.

    PHOTO COURTESY OF MEESHA BAUGHER WORLEYEd Baugher Jr. raises his hat as a thank-you gesture after receiving his 75 year service award from the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers.

 
By Travis DeNeal tdeneal@dailyregister.com
updated: 11/3/2020 6:44 PM

ELDORADO -- Ed Baugher Jr. recently received recognition for a feat that doesn't happen often: a union membership that spans 75 years.

Matt Braun, president of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 8, said honoring a 75-year member of the union is a rare occurrence.

"We give out awards for memberships of 25 years and sometimes 50 years," Braun said. "Every once in a blue moon, we have a 75-year member. I've been with the union for 17 years, and this is my first one. It just doesn't come around often at all."

Friends, family and union representatives gathered last week outside of Eldorado Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to honor Baugher, who will turn 99 in December. Baugher was able to receive his plaque, but well-wishers had to remain outside due to COVID-19 safety protocols.

"Every December we have our awards banquet and recognize members for achievements. Unfortunately, we were unable to do it in person like normal because of COVID and Mr. Baugher being a resident of a nursing home," Braun said. "But, we wanted to be sure he would be capable of receiving it. It's a great feat."

Braun said he wished he could have asked Baugher to recount some of his many experiences in the union.

"Our union has a rich history, and he's a big part of it," Braun said.

Braun said the number of years required to work a physically demanding job often brings wear and tear on the body, and few bricklayers live long enough to celebrate 75 years of membership.

"As a bricklayer, your body gets broken down, and for someone to be able to take care of themselves and stay that long is amazing," Braun said. "What's more is, he stuck with it through a lot of hard times. There have been times when work was slow that a lot of members drop out, work nonunion or choose to work in a different career. For someone to stick it out 75 years is incredible."

Braun said the Local 8 was formed in 1993 as a merger of several different chapters in the southern portion of Illinois. Today, with a main office in Belleville and satellite offices, including one in West Frankfort, the local represents 65 counties in Illinois, Braun said. Baugher originally had been part of Local 72 in Murphysboro, which was a chapter that merged with Local 8, Braun said.

Meesha Baugher Worley, a granddaughter of Baugher's, was on hand to see her grandfather receive his award. She said he was pleased with the recognition, and she and her family are excited about the award.

"This is something that almost never happens," Worley said. "We're very proud of him."