Rodney (on the right) was honored for his service at the last Council meeting, led by EST Jason Engels (on the left).

Born Union Carpenter Rodney Hickey Retires After 35 Years

Rodney Hickey, Council representative of the Central South Carpenters Regional Council’s (CSCRC) Local 1266 and Local 14, retired recently after 35 years of dedicated service.

Being a union carpenter is in the Hickey blood, with his great grandfather, grandfather, father, uncles and brother all a part of the brotherhood. However, joining the union wasn’t necessarily an expected family tradition.

“While the union has been a blessing for my family with all the benefits it has provided – I saw it as a great career opportunity, because of the access to training for whatever you want to do,” said Hickey. “I like to tell anyone thinking about joining that the union can open the door for you – then it’s up to you what you do with it.”

And following his own advice, he made the most of his career as early as high school, where he learned the carpentry craft from information by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) International Training Center (ITC). His first job came as working for a roofing contractor.

At 20 years old, Mr. Hickey joined Local 1084 in his hometown of Angleton, finished the apprenticeship program in 1984 and began as a journeyman doing general carpentry work for four years in Bay City, Texas.

Rodney became adept at working nuclear outages. He worked all of the outages at the South Texas Project Electric Generating Station in Bay City from 1992 - 2004. But, many of his fondest memories involve his work as a trade show assembler and rigging carpenter. Doing pre-show setup and post-show teardown at events like the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) every May in Houston became his “bread and butter.”

He credits friend and mentor Joe Nettles with showing him the ropes in 1987. “Joe taught me everything I know about rigging for trade shows,” Hickey said.

Over the course of his career, Rodney was a trustee in Texas City, financial secretary for Local 551 for four years and an organizer for the Texas Carpenters and Millwrights Regional Council in Houston. In 2013, he was named Council Representative for CSCRC Local 1266 and Local 14.

“I also would like to thank Craig Wright and Alex Ornelas, my fellow Council Reps, who were the best teammates and roommates I Rep could have. They are just super guys.”

“And of course, I want to thank Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Mr. Jason Engels, for his leadership and for giving me the opportunity to represent him on behalf of the CSCRC to work with the members of Locals 14 and 1266. It was quite on honor for me, truly,” Hickey added.

Looking back, Rodney said his proudest accomplishment came in 2003, when he was asked to help revise and update the UBC’s curriculum for trade show rigging as a subject matter expert. Rodney, Joe Nettles and three other members used their experience and expertise to update the training program. Over four years, the five would fly to Las Vegas and work on the curriculum at the ITC for one week every month.

“Rodney was an excellent carpenter who then applied his talents to become an excellent Council Representative for not just one, but two Local Unions,” Engels said. “His work ethic, positive attitude and attention to details served our membership and the entire Council well. We will certainly miss him but we wish him all the best for a happy, healthy retirement.”

While Mr. Hickey is proud of his career and looks at retirement as a reward – he also feels compelled to give back to the union that has provided so much for him and his family. So when the time is right, he wants to explore the possibility of working part-time as a training instructor teaching tradeshow rigging and the installation and dismantling of exhibits.  

“I would love to help pass the torch to the next generation. And share my experiences and what I’ve learned in my career from all the training instructors, foremen, superintendents, and colleagues over the years.”

In the mean time, Rodney plans to hit the road with his wife in their new travel trailer they just bought. He also wants to buy a boat and do as much fishing and camping as he can.