IT IS A WISE MAN who heeds his father-in-law's advice.
When Local 63 member Wayne Lodge proposed to his wife, his soon-to-be father-in-law talked to him about pursuing other career opportunities. He and his fiancé, Cortney, were working as preboard screeners at the airport in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
“I had just asked Cortney to marry me, and my father-in-law laid out opportunities for us in Alberta,” says Wayne. “He had taken on a job there and offered to help us get on our feet if we wanted to follow him. So I took a transfer to the Calgary airport and worked as a screener there for a while until I could land something in the oil industry.”
It wasn’t long before Wayne got his ticket in scaffolding and embarked on an entirely new career. He hasn’t looked back. Today, he is a top-notch journeyman scaffolder.
But for Wayne, life is not just about pursuing a great career. It’s about making a difference in people’s lives. Whether as a CLAC chief steward, Local 63 president, community volunteer, or dad, he’s quick to lend a hand wherever needed, doing whatever it takes to help others.
LIKE SO MANY NATIVE NEWFOUNDLANDERS, Wayne left his home province to look for work in Alberta’s oil industry. That was six years ago. It took him very little time to become entrenched in Alberta, both personally and professionally. He has quickly become a fixture on major job sites in the province as well as in Saskatchewan.
Wayne is also very active in his community in the town of Airdrie, where he and Cortney make a home for their five-year-old daughter, Aubrey, and their three-year-old son, Isaac. Airdrie is located on the outskirts of Calgary. It’s a tight-knit community, not because people have lived there for generations, but for the exact opposite reason—almost everyone has come from far away. Despite a booming population, increasing from 31,000 in 2007 to 65,000 in 2017, it maintains a small-town vibe that Wayne really appreciates.
“Airdrie is an awesome community,” he says. “When I go away to work, I know that someone will come and cut my grass in the summer and shovel my sidewalk in the winter. And when I am home, I return the favour. Everyone helps each other out.”
Shortly after moving to the area, Wayne got involved with a group called Airdrie Dads. It started as a Facebook group, as a sort of unofficial adjunct to the Airdrie Moms group.
“Our founder and a couple of guys in the group kept asking wives, ‘Hey, can you see if any of the husbands will give me a hand with this?’ And, jokingly, the women said we should just start our own Airdrie Dads group.”
In just a few years, the group has taken off. And its 3,200 members are doing more than helping each other—they are making a huge difference in the community. An Airdrie Dads charity golf tournament this summer raised a whopping $40,000 for local charities. The group has also started an Adopt-a-Grad program, which ensures that any young man finishing high school has a new suit for graduation day.
“As a group of men, we were all adamant that a young man needs to have a suit in his life,” says Wayne.
The Dads raised $7,000 in two months—enough to buy all the suits needed with enough left over to make $1,000 donations to three local high schools.
Wayne can offer a personal testament to the fundraising prowess of his fellow dads. One year, in a push to raise money for a local Lioness Club Christmas hamper program, Wayne made a bold promise.
“I suggested we should set an outrageous goal. If we got it, then I’d get the Airdrie Dads logo tattooed on my rear end. We decided on $20,000.”
The Dads had a tight, one-month deadline to raise the cash.
“I figured there was no way we would hit it. Maybe we would get $10,000, and that would be a big help to the good work these ladies were doing.”
But Wayne’s tattoo promise turned out to be a big incentive for his pals.
“I’ve never witnessed a group of guys get so involved with something. We had guys doing bottle runs, dump runs. Companies were donating services or products that we could auction off in the group. We had guys dropping off all their spare change.”
That $20,000 goal?
“We blew past it,” says Wayne. “We hit $26,000 in a month. The cheque we gave to the Lioness Club was for the original goal of $20,000. They had no idea it was coming, and they were in tears. We were too, I guess.”
The remaining $6,000 went to a local radio station’s annual Christmas toy drive.
True to his word, Wayne got his tattoo, courtesy of a local artist who donated her time and materials.
“We livestreamed the whole thing so the group could watch.”
WAYNE’S EXUBERANCE FOR HELPING OTHERS isn’t limited to his community and charitable efforts. It’s part of what has made him a popular worker, steward, and Local 63 member in just a few short years.
He certainly made a great first impression on CLAC Representative Ed DeBruyn. They met during Wayne’s early days as a scaffolder, when he was working for Brand Energy Solutions near Calgary.
“From the very first day I met him, he was so outgoing, so friendly,” Ed says. “He was just one of those guys you could see was genuinely concerned about his coworkers and the workplace.”
Wayne’s natural leadership abilities were obvious, and got him noticed as he moved from one job to another.
“He’s always looking out for everybody on the sites that he’s on, and making sure that we as reps are kept up to date as to what’s going on,” says Ed.
After a short stint with Brand Energy, Wayne started working with PCL Energy Inc. at Agrium’s potash project in Saskatchewan. It was there that he got to know Jay Caithcart, a journeyman carpenter who was also a steward.
“Jay literally taught me everything I know about being a steward,” Wayne says. “I don’t think he knows the impact he had on me. Every trade is different and you have to learn how to speak to each group.”
Speaking his mind is one of Wayne’s obvious strengths and a trait Jay immediately appreciated.
“He has a very good and unique ability to get himself into any conversation with anybody,” says Jay, who is now working as a CLAC representative in Fort. St. John, BC. “That’s something that I struggled with myself. So I used his strengths in those situations.”
Wayne is equally comfortable talking to CLAC members and company managers, and has a knack for defusing tense conversations.
“He puts people at ease almost instantly,” Jay says. “If you are dealing with a high-emotion situation, Wayne is usually the best person to bring in. People tend to instantly calm down when he is in the room.”
Ed says Wayne has earned his reputation as an excellent and effective steward.
“CLAC knows who Wayne is, but the companies know who Wayne is too,” says Ed. “He’s always looking for the best solution for everybody. The companies recognize that.”
Wayne’s commitment to CLAC’s principles is part of what makes him such an effective steward. He appreciates CLAC’s collaborative approach to labour relations and the workplace.
“The construction work environment is a whole lot different than it was 25 years ago,” he says. “We can’t just stamp our feet until we get what we want. We have a job that needs to be done. So sometimes, work now, grieve later, is the best way to approach a situation.”
Part of his mission as a chief steward and Local 63 president is letting workers know how much CLAC can do for them.
“I don’t think our members realize everything the union can do for them,” says Wayne. “A big part of my job is educating members on everything that CLAC does, the training that is available, and why our pension plan is far superior with our aging workforce here in Canada. And people need to know about the help CLAC offers for nonwork issues too, like addictions and counselling.”
IN 2016, WAYNE BEGAN WORKING at PCL’s massive Fort Hills project near Fort McMurray. There, he was part of the union bargaining committee that negotiated a collective agreement for 4,000 members working at the project. It was the largest voting body in CLAC’s history, and the contract was ratified with 90 percent voting in favour.
He recently shifted from construction to maintenance work and is now employed by AECOM Maintenance Contractors Ltd. at Imperial Oil’s Kearl Lake Oil Sands Project near Fort McMurray. After moving from site to site for construction work, he is hopeful that the maintenance work will be for the longer term.
“To stay with a company for four or five years is a lifetime in a scaffolder’s world,” he says. “But I could potentially be at Kearl the rest of my career, which is kind of mind-blowing to me.”
Even though his work is almost 1,000 kilometres from his home in Airdrie, he’s happy that the 10 days on, 10 days off schedule at Kearl gives him so much uninterrupted family time. The flight home is only 90 minutes.
“I leave the site at 9:30 in the morning and I’m hugging my kids by one o’clock,” he says. “When I’m home, I get to be a dad. I let my wife sleep in as much as the kids will let her. I get up with them and make breakfast and coffee. We watch cartoons, we play on our iPads, we have fun together. That morning time is when I get to be at-home Wayne. That’s why I work away—so I can have lots of dedicated time at home with my family.”
When he’s not busy at work, doing his job, helping his fellow members, or serving on the Local 63 Board, he’s a devoted husband and father helping others in his community. Wayne is an Airdrie Dad through and through.
Tattoos tell the tale of Wayne Lodge’s life so far. When Wayne was tattooed with the Airdrie Dads logo after a successful fundraising campaign, he wasn’t exactly wandering into uncharted territory.
“As far as tattoos go, I’ve got baby blocks with my kids’ initials, Mayan numbers of important dates [kids’ birthdays, anniversary], my wedding day in Roman numerals, an ouroboros [a snake swallowing its tail] on my calf, Jiminy Cricket on my shoulder—my parents always told me he’d tell me right from wrong—and the list goes on,” Wayne says.
He also has the Medic Alert symbol for Type 1 diabetes tattooed on his wrist.
“I used to wear the bracelets, but working construction they would constantly break, and I would lose them,” he says.
His latest addition—which brings his tattoo total to 11—is loosely based on CLAC’s leaf logo, which he is now sporting just above his left knee.
“Who knows, maybe a CLAC sleeve on my whole leg is in my future,” says Wayne. “But I like that it’s open to interpretation.”
All about Airdrie
- Airdrie was named for Airdrie, Scotland.
- It was first established as a railway siding in 1889 during the construction of the Calgary and Edmonton railway.
- Only railway buildings existed until 1901 when the first farmhouse and barn was built, followed by a post office and store in that same year.
- Airdrie was incorporated as a village in 1909, a town in 1974, and a city in 1985.
- As Calgary grows, so does Airdrie. Between 1977 and 2017, its population ballooned from 2,200 people to almost 65,000.
- Canadian country singer Paul Brandt was born in Calgary and grew up in Airdrie.
Sources: kiddle.co, Wikipedia
Thinking of getting inked but afraid of the pain? Hint: don’t get one on your inner wrist. Apparently, this is one of the most painful places to get a tattoo.
Other really painful spots include your throat, ribs, and stomach. Less sensitive spots include your shoulder, calf, outer arm, and butt.
The bigger or more intricate the tattoo the more pain. Also, the older you are: older skin is not as tight and doesn’t absorb ink as well as younger skin.
The most dangerous place for a tattoo? Your eyeball. The risk of infection is higher possibly leading to vision loss.