Paul Schaefer, Local 881’s Secretary-Treasurer Announces Retirement

Thirty-five years ago, then President Ron Powell drove to the Local 881 Edwardsville Office to sit down with me for an interview. That interview turned into several hours of conversation, with President Powell and me talking about what it takes to represent the members of Local 881. He explained how this was not a “job” but rather a 24/7 way of life, including nights, weekends, on the road up and down the state and elsewhere.

At the conclusion of our conversation, he asked me to go home to discuss everything we had just talked about with my wife and to let him know if “we” would be committed to this way of life. I did that and a few days later, President Powell offered me a position as a Union Representative with Local 881.

Throughout my thirty-five-year career, I have tried to represent the membership of Local 881 and the Labor Movement, to the best of my abilities. I may not have always been right, but I always kept the best interests of the membership in mind. It is that mindset that I encourage all the current staff at Local 881, both those who work in the office and those in the field, to think about, adopt and adhere to, every day.

I would like to say “Thank You” to Ron Powell for his trust in me and giving me the opportunity to join the staff of Local 881 thirty-five years ago.

I would like to say “Thank You” to President Steve Powell for also having the trust in me the past thirty-five years and most recently, the past five years, by giving me the opportunity to serve as the Secretary-Treasurer of this great organization. I can only hope that I have served well, and I believe that I am leaving Local 881 in an outstanding position to be a strong advocate for our members in the years to come.

I would like to say “Thank you” to the Local 881 Executive Board for your trust and support over the past thirty-five years. It has truly been an honor to work with you and for you.

I would like to say “Thank You” to the many staff whom I have had the pleasure to work with over the years, both upstate and downstate. It has been an honor to be able to work with so many great people.

I would like to say “Thank You” to Patricia Vardalos and the accounting department. As the Local 881 Comptroller, Patricia guided this organization for more than my thirty-five years, but she has worked with me and guided me for the past five years in my role as Secretary-Treasurer and I appreciate the work she and her team does each day.

Most importantly, I would like to say “Thank You” to the membership of Local 881. It has been such an honor and a pleasure getting to meet, work with and for so many great people. Many of you, I would like to believe I can consider my “friend.” While we may not have always agreed over the years, whether it was a grievance or the negotiations of your union contract, I hope that you all know that my motivation was always to protect the interests of ALL the members of Local 881. I genuinely appreciate the trust that you have given me throughout my career, and I hope that I have had a positive impact on the lives of you and your family.

One final note; my decision to retire has been both difficult and simple at the same time. Difficult, because as I start a new chapter in my life, it is scary to think about how my daily life will change after thirty-five years of doing something that I enjoyed and knowing that I will miss all of you. Simple, because I know that with the leadership of President Steve Powell and the entire Local 881 team, up and down the state, you are in great hands.

So, thank you all, again, for thirty-five great years!

Fraternally & sincerely,


Paul D. Schaefer

Life Member of Local 881

Local 881 thanks Paul for his 35 years of service, and will continue to honor his lasting impact on our Union.

Effective July 1st, Bill O’Keefe was appointed as our new Secretary-Treasurer. Read more about him here.