History of Leadership
In 1919, the Plumbers and Fitters Local 675 received its charter from the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada.
With a founding membership of 50 strong, the early pioneers of Local 675 began a journey toward new opportunities and a better way of life.
In 1935, Congress passed the Wagner Act and created the National Labor Relations Board. Workers were given the right to legally form and join union organizations. Unions finally had official recognition and the right to negotiate with employers.
The post war era initiated a construction boom in the islands. In a mere two year span from 1945 to 1947, Hawaii developed from one of the least organized areas, to one of the most highly organized.
Into this period of dynamic change, Edward J. Kovack stepped to the helm of Local 675 in 1945 as the strong leader who would chart a clear course for the Plumbers and Fitters Union.
Ed Kovack immediately set out to build the union and made organizing his number one priority.
In 1959, when Hawaii greeted statehood and another construction boom, Kovack laid the foundation for improved relationships between labor and management for the benefit of employees. His goal was to enhance the quality of member benefits and establish much-needed training programs. Kovack was instrumental in securing in 1961, Health and Welfare coverage, Pension Plan, Training Fund and Vacation and Holiday Fund.
Edward M. Hashimoto, former Training Coordinator, was called upon to assist the Business Manager in developing solutions for expanding the workforce, improving basic skills and adapting to new technologies.
In 1981, Edward Hashimoto assumed the position of Business Manager as Hawaii’s construction industry began to feel the effects of a nation-wide recession. The Annuity Fund was created to address the needs of member retirees, finalized in 1982.
Herbert S. K. “Chubby” Kaopua, after 17 years in the field was picked by Ed Kovack to serve as a Business Field Representative and in 1985, he became Assistant Business Manager under the mentorship of Ed Hashimoto.
In 1990, Ed Hashimoto officially retired and Herbert S. K. Kaopua, Sr, assumed the position of Business Manager/ Financial Secretary-Treasurer of Local 675. As part of his vision for Local 675, Kaopua was instrumental in leading the union to a strategic position for managing dynamic change. Kaopua directed the purchase of the Union’s Bethel Street Building, negotiated an unprecedented five-year wage and benefit package for Local 675, and established a Federal Credit Union to provide for the financial needs of union members. Business Manager Kaopua formulated a master plan designed to successfully move Local 675 into the next century.
Reginald V. Castanares, Jr., under the tutelage of Business Manager Herbert Kaopua, Sr. became the Union’s Organizer in 2001, and upon the retirement of Herbert Kaopua, Sr., Castanares became the Business Manager/Financial Secretary-Treasurer of Local 675 in 2007. Castanares was instrumental in securing a statewide Project Labor Agreement under Governor Neil Abercrombie. He was also influential in securing the Trust Funds’ Apprenticeship Training building in Iwilei.
In 2019, recognizing a growing need to take inventory and re-evaluate the role of the union for its membership, Local 675’s President, Valentino Ceria accepted his being nominated and subsequent election as Business Manager/Financial Secretary-Treasurer of Local 675.
With over 40 years of field and executive level experience with Local 675, Ceria brings a refreshing and genuine sense of empathy for, and respect from, active and retired members alike. In celebration of its 100th anniversary as one of Hawai’i’s oldest labor unions first chartered in October of 1919, Ceria hopes to re-focus Local 675’s commitment to its members and their families, and to build upon Local 675’s continued success, steeped in a rich and storied history as one of Hawai’i’s leaders in improving not just the lives of its members and their families, but of the community and state at-large.
Union members hold specialized skills in plumbing, pipefitting, refrigeration, air conditioning, fire sprinkler systems, and welding. The Union provides extensive training and certification to members through the Plumbers & Fitters prestigious training facilities that offer hands-on and classroom training, including video distance learning. 5-year program, 10,000 work hours on-the-job training, plus ten semesters of related classroom instruction.