Magler retires from St. Paul Pipefitters’ top office


Tony Poole (L) will succeed Rick Magler as business manager of Pipefitters Local 455. Magler shows off a box-elder bowl carved by a neighbor to celebrate his retirement.

Rick Magler, business manager of St. Paul Pipefitters Local 455 for the last six years, celebrated his retirement yesterday with family, friends and fellow Pipefitters.

The celebration took place at the local’s state-of-the-art apprenticeship center and union hall, which opened its doors on L’Oreint Street three years ago. Magler played a leading role in building the Pipefitters’ new, permanent home in St. Paul, but you wouldn’t know it by asking him.

“I was just lucky to have been in charge when that happened, and I had a lot of help,” the always humble Magler said. “It wasn’t just me, it was our whole membership.”

Assistant Business Manager Tony Poole will step into the top job at Local 455 after Magler’s retirement is official.

Magler gained initiation into Local 455 in February 1981. Before going to work as a business agent nine years ago, he worked as a welder, mostly in power plants.

Magler credits his father for talking him into going through with his apprenticeship interview 38 years ago, during a surprise visit as Magler was on his way to work at a nonunion job.

“I liked my job, and they treated me good,” Magler remembered. “But this one day I got up and was getting ready for work, and somebody was knocking on my door. I thought, ‘Who the heck is here?’

“So I went to the door, and it was my dad. He said, ‘Don’t you have an interview today?’ He said he had a chance to get into the union when he was younger, and he didn’t do it. And he said I should at least go to the interview. Two weeks later I was starting day school.

“That was the smartest thing I ever did.”

Magler’s interest in politics drove him to get more involved with the union. He served in several elected offices within Local 455: sergeant at arms, vice president, president and Executive Board member. He also held office in several labor councils, including as a trustee for the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO.

Bobby Kasper, president of the St. Paul RLF, presented Magler with an award at his final federation meeting last week for lifetime service to the labor movement.

“Congratulations to Rick on his well-deserved retirement,” Kasper said. “We will miss his steady leadership and reliable presence at Regional Labor Federation events.”

The celebration Thursday was as down-to-earth as Magler, who made a batch of booya for the occasion.

Magler and his wife, Karen, live in Connorsville, Wis. He has four daughters and one son, who is a second-year apprentice with Local 455. One of Magler’s sons-in-law is on track to become a journey-level Pipefitter next year, too.

Magler has no plans to give up the craft in retirement, either.

“I miss welding, I love to weld,” he laughed. “I’m going to do some of that in retirement.”

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