A long time Corridor labor leader is being remembered as a strong advocate for working men and women.
Ray Dochterman, former business manager of Local 125 Plumbers and Pipe fitters Union in Cedar Rapids for nearly 20 years, died on May 16 at the age of 59.
The Marion native also was president of the Cedar Rapid-Iowa City Building and Construction Trades Council AFL-CIO from 2011 to 2014 and a member of the Linn County Conservation Board from 2005 to 2009.
“Ray was one of the hardest working men I’ve ever known,” recalled Justin Shields, former president of the Hawkeye Area Labor Council. “He was always open to helping people.
“He wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer when it came to working with him. Ray would just plow ahead and never give up if he felt it was the right cause.”
Dochterman strongly supported requiring contractors working on city repair projects after the 2008 flood to pay prevailing wages — union wages for comparable private sector work.
After some initial reluctance, then-Mayor Ron Corbett became a strong proponent of contractors paying the prevailing wage. Seven city council members joined Corbett, Dochterman and union workers at a labor hall training center on March 3, 2010, to show support for those rates.
Dochterman received his bachelor’s degree from Cornell College in Mount Vernon in 1983.
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Corbett, who also earned his undergraduate degree from Cornell, said Dochterman realized that to really support union members, he had to be involved in some community issues.
“He was not the kind of guy who sought the spotlight when it came to community issues.” Corbett said. “Ray preferred to let the elected officials and those who wanted to be out front keep that role.
“Back when I was with the Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, he was very influential in getting a school bond issue passed. At the time, the Cedar Rapids Community School District was struggling and had failed a couple of times to get a local-option sales tax approved by voters.
“The Chamber of Commerce stepped up, helped run the school bond issue campaign, and partnered with labor, which was a big part of that.”
Corbett said Dochterman played a key role in helping prepare the city’s successful application for Vision Iowa funding as well as the successful March 2013 vote to approve casino gaming in Linn County.
“Not only was Dochterman involved in community issues, but he also got behind people running for political office,” Corbett said. “I was fortunate to be one of the folks that he supported.”