The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America has dissolved its St. Louis-Kansas City Regional Council and merged the union locals into its Chicago Regional Council.

The restructuring leaves the Chicago group with more than 50,000 members across Illinois, Missouri, Kansas City and eastern Iowa, according to the union’s announcement.

It also leaves Al Bond, the executive secretary-treasurer of the St. Louis-Kansas City branch, ousted from his position, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Bond couldn’t immediately be reached and a local union spokesperson didn’t respond to inquiries about the restructuring.

The St. Louis union has been heavily involved in local politics, giving thousands of dollars to politicians via a PAC in recent years, politics donations-tracking website OpenSecrets shows. And the union has put its weight behind failed proposals to merge St. Louis’ city and county governments and to privatize St. Louis Lambert International Airport. That led to speculation among some that politics may have played a role in the decision to remove Bond. 

Douglas J. McCarron, carpenters' general president, said in a statement that the change was made in order to increase operations oversight, reduce costs, maximize resources and to increase market competitiveness.

The union has periodically merged its other district and regional councils under McCarron’s leadership, often citing similar reasons. 

In 2011, it merged the Empire State Regional Council of Carpenters and New Jersey Regional Council of Carpenters to form the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters. About five years later, the Philadelphia-based Metropolitan Regional Council was dissolved and its union locals were merged under the NRCC. Then, in 2018, UBC dissolved northeast council and split its locals between the New England Council — now renamed the North Atlantic States Regional Council — and the Keystone + Mountain + Lakes Regional Council, which had been known as the Pennsylvania Regional Council until it absorbed locals from Maryland, Virginia, the D.C. area and North Carolina a few years earlier. 

Even the St. Louis-Kansas City Regional Council of Carpenters was the product of a 2010 merger between the union’s prior St. Louis and Kansas City area district councils. Bond led the regional group since 2015.

This restructuring won’t affect current bargaining agreements, including wages and benefit contributions, Gary Perinar, executive secretary-treasurer of the Chicago Regional Council said in a statement. 

Perinar added that the move would make the union stronger.

“This reorganization presents real opportunities to increase our market share above and beyond our 70% goal,” Perinar said. “It’s a win for our signatory contractors, it’s a win for the communities in which we live and work, and most importantly, it’s a win for our members.”