In Newsletter: Spring '21

Bryan O’Sullivan’s time with District Council 35 started in 1979, when his father called up the stairs to him: “You’re going into the glaziers union.” Back then, Bryan didn’t even know what a glazier was. But over 40 years, he rose through the ranks of DC 35 as an Executive Board member, a delegate, the Executive Board Vice President, President of Local 1044, President of DC 35, and an Organizer with the Union.


As an organizer, Bryan says his best organizing tool was his story. He’s met dozens, if not hundreds, of open shop workers over the years throughout his positions with the union. He tells them about the pension, healthy annuity, and health coverage for his family that he’s received from the union. Bryan has even shown some workers the summary of his annuity statement; that usually wins them over.


“If you are considering joining a union, you have to ask yourself: Is this something you want to do for the rest of your life? You have a job; I’m offering you a career,” Bryan explained recently.


A young kid doesn’t understand how quickly 30 years passes you by. You may have a job prior to joining the union, but when you join the union, you have a career for a lifetime. You can trust that in 30 years, you can retire thanks to your pension and annuity. You can trust that when you show up to the hospital or doctor’s office with your children, your health insurance is going to cover your visit. If you love what you do, you have to do it union.


He always knew he was cut out to work with my hands. Working with DC 35, Bryan has been over the side of most of the most iconic buildings in Boston. He’s changed out windows on the Hancock Tower, worked on the new Boston Garden, and more. 


Once, when he was about 30 stories up working on an office building, he made eye contact with a guy at his cubicle; the office worker mouthed to me through the glass, “no way!” But that’s exactly how Bryan felt about a desk job… no way!


Bryan retired in October 2020 and has been lucky enough to enjoy the fruits of his labor. He and his wife, Barabara, bought a new house, and Bryan has plans to backpack through Asia with his son, Sean.


Bryan says he would never have been able to do this without my pension and annuity. “So many open shop friends, who are older than me, are still working and probably will be for a lot longer,” he said recently. That’s why he tells young people to “make the jump” as soon as they can.


Bryan says he wasn’t much of a “joiner,” but he’s glad he joined the union and feels the camaraderie with his fellow Brothers and Sisters. The union gave him pride in his work and the chance to live a successful life and retire in dignity. As an organizer, Bryan says, it’s all about paying that feeling and those benefits forward.


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