Chicago has played and instrumental role in the development of the piping industry since the inception of unions. The original UA Headquarters was located in Chicago. Shortly after the UA was formed, the Steam Fitters' Protection Association Local 2 of the International Association was organized, holding their first meeting at the Plasterers' Hall in 1885.

The Steam Fitters’ Protective Association of Chicago was organized by a small number of steam fitters in 1885. They were associated with the International Association of Plumbers, Gas, and Steam Fitters until 1887.

In 1888 they affiliated with the National Association of Steam, Hot Water and Power Pipe Fitters of America, which name later changed to the International Association of Steam, Hot Water and Power Pipe Fitters of America Local No. 2 (Steam Fitters) and Local No. 4 (Helpers).

On January 25th, 1913, the International Association Steam Fitters Local No. 2, and Helpers Local No. 4 entered and agreement with the United Association of Plumbers and Steam Fitters of the United States and Canada establishing charters for Local 597 (Steam Fitters) and Local 598 (Helpers).

Local 598 was eventually merged with Local 597 with the creation of formal apprentice wages in 1921.

Local 597 has maintained a stable history in the industry, electing only five Business Managers since 1900.

  • Charles Rau (1901-1951)
  • Martin J. Ward (1951- 1958)
  • Francis X. McCartin (1958-2001)
  • ‚ÄčJames Buchanan (2001-2016)
  • Kevin Morrissey (2016- 2022)
  • Christopher Hernandez (2022- current)

Francis X. McCartin became a legend in the labor movement during his 43 years as Business Manager.  The Francis X. McCartin Training Center became Chicago’s first union apprenticeship training facility.

Elected in 2001, James Buchanan served as Business Manager for 15 years and took apprenticeship training to a new level, with the construction of a state-of-the-art training facility in Mokena, Illinois.

In 2016, Kevin Morrissey assumed the role as our 5th Business Manager and has committed to preserving the future of our trade by focusing on mentorship and technological innovations.  Through Mr. Morrissey’s leadership, a satellite training center has been established in Northwest Indiana to serve the membership.