After decades of service to advancing the carpenters’ trade in Ontario, Ucal Powell, is retiring from the College of Carpenters’ and Allied Trades (CCAT) board of directors.
A special tribute was held to honour Powell at the recent CCAT graduation ceremony in Vaughan, Ont. Powell has been the secretary treasurer and co-chair of the board of directors for almost 30 years.
He has co-chaired the board along with Janet Trim. He started his career with the union as a business representative for Local 27, then became the business manager for the Local, and eventually became the executive secretary treasurer of the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario. Before retiring from that role a few years ago, he oversaw all of the carpenters’ unions in Ontario.
“It was a lot easier for me to retire from my full-time job than it was to retire off this board and the reason for that is that I’ve always felt that giving back to young people and advancing the trade is one of the most important things for the union,” Powell said.
“It was difficult for me but we all know that it’s time to move on and pass the torch on to the younger generation. From my experience working with these guys I’m sure this organization is going to continue to head in the right direction.”
Trim said she first met Powell many years ago.
Nobody has more background experience and knowledge of carpenters’ training
— Janet Trim
College of Carpenters’ and Allied Trades
“Ucal was working on the tools as a carpenter and I was working for the General Contractors Section — Toronto,” recalled Trim.
“Ucal had filed a grievance against a general contractor. The grievance meeting did not resolve the issue and it was referred to the Ontario Labour Relations Board. I was assigned to attend the hearing along with the general contractor representative and our lawyer. Ucal was on one side, I was on the other. The board ruled in favour of Ucal. He was successful and he has continued to be successful ever since.”
Years later, they found themselves on the same side.
“Eventually our paths crossed in a more friendly manner when we both found ourselves first on the local joint apprenticeship committee then as directors of the Carpenters’ Trust Fund which is now CCAT,” said Trim adding apprenticeship is Ucal’s great love after his wife and sons.
“He has worked endlessly for apprentices and new training…Ucal was known across Canada and therefore could promote apprenticeship everywhere he went. He has also promoted women in the industry especially carpentry and we are certainly on the same side on this issue.”
Trim added, “Sadly, Ucal has retired from the board of directors of CCAT so now we are on opposite sides — Ucal wants to retire and I don’t want him to. We will miss you greatly.”
She encouraged him to be available to the board as an adviser.
“Nobody has more background experience and knowledge of carpenters’ training,” said Trim, as she presented him with a plaque.
“Thank you to you. In honour and appreciation of your decades of service as the secretary treasurer of the College of Carpenters’ and Allied Trades, tireless dedication to apprenticeship, health and safety training and continuing education has resulted in thousands of our union members working together to build a better future.”
Powell received the Order of Ontario in 2011 and was instrumental in the capital expansion and investment in the college and in engaging the concrete forming industry in the life of the college, said Mike Yorke, Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario president and president of Carpenters Local 27.
He also played a key role in growing CCAT from a small training centre located on Signet Drive to the largest and busiest training centre in the carpenters’ union in all of Canada, said Cristina Selva, executive director, CCAT, in an email to the Daily Commercial News.
“Over the years, he not only helped to initiate ground breaking pre-apprenticeship programs for hundreds of at-risk youth, but also took a personal interest in the youth who participated — including acting as mentor to many of them,” she said.
Powell had some advice for the graduating apprentices.
“I can tell you guys have a great future ahead of you,” he said
“One thing I would like to pass on to you, remember how you got your start in the trade and always, always help an apprentice to improve their situation on the job. It’s not always easy for a young person coming on the job and they need help.”