The Story of Fred

Construction consultants

Our brother, Frederick Emmett Rust Senior’s life coincided with some of the stormiest squalls, which rocked the first half of the 20th century for Local Union 2. He took these tempests with the firm reliance of a pilot who knew his course and would not deviate from it. To have had the opportunity of recapitulating these chapters of his life the following biological sketch has been both a gratifying and distinct pleasure.

Fred Rust’s father, Augustus, a German nail maker, moved with his wife, Ella, a school teacher, to New Castle, Pa. in the late 1870s in hopes for a bright future in a new town.

Like countless others who came to New Castle from older cities, the Rusts had high hopes of opportunity and plenty for all. What they found was the primitive vicinities of a new town and the hardships of building a new community for a thriving economy.

The Knights of Labor Union, the groundwork of the A.F. of L., was the only focal point in the family’s life, which linked the Rusts spiritually, and brought some sense of security to them. It was the backbone to the family.

In its milestone of family triumphs, their second son, Fred Rust, was born in New Castle, Pa.

In total despair and the unexpected death of his father, Fred began earning money from the time he was 8 years of age to create financial stability within his family. Young Fred began attending night school from 7 to 9 PM and attended day school when he was not working.

His brother Al Rust, a night clerk in a Steubenville, Ohio Hotel, introduced his brother to a Mr. A. K. Williams of Cleveland, Ohio, and in doing so introduced Fred to the pipe covering business. He became Mr. William’s assistant.

Lessons and hands-on training in practical unionism started early for young Fred as he plunged into active union work.
The Asbestos Workers mold of trade unionism was not built according to theoretical blueprints. It grew from a deeply embedded revolt of free men against the raw inequities of booming industrialism. Men began to reject both the “pie in the sky” visions and counsels of despair alike.

Fred learned to speak up, ask questions, make suggestions, and soon became a member of several local committees. In quick succession, the local members began electing him to office as a business agent, president, and executive board member.

Fred Rust grew to be an influential parliamentarian. He was in the forefront of dozens of campaigns for social justice and human welfare. He articulated the aspirations of many members who could not speak for themselves.

Fred Rust Sr. was Local 2 Business Agent for 22 years from 1937 to 1959. His registration number was #73, but he was not a Charter member of Local #2, and it seems possible that he transferred into Pittsburgh from Cleveland.

He died in 1971 at the age of 90. He was succeeded by Willard Mansfield for one term, and then by Fred Rust Jr. who served 12 years, followed by Jim Connolly. Fred Junior passed away in 1978.

Insulators Local No. 2 has outlasted contractors and companies. Fred Sr. left a marvelous legacy with an abundance of achievements and personal pride for the workers of Insulators Local No. 2.

He would be amazed to see our organization today. If anybody can add to our local history, please share with us.


109 Pleasant Dr. STE 200
Aliquippa, PA 15001

P: 724-378-9735 
F: 724-378-7050


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