One of Philadelphiaâ€™s major trade unions went through a name change Jan. 6 of this year. As a result, the Metropolitan Regional Council of Philadelphia & Vicinity had to drop â€œPhiladelphia & Vicinityâ€ from its title.
It didnâ€™t get smaller, nor did it leave the city; instead it added the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters â€“ expanding its jurisdiction, in the words of its leader Ed Coryell, â€œfrom the southwestern-most part of Virginia (Roanoke area) to Carbon Co., Pa. town of Jim Thorpe.â€
Coryell, who has served as the elected Executive Secretary Treasurer-Business Manager since 1981, now heads a Council of 17,000 professional union carpenters. With major construction scheduled in the Baltimore area, Coryell sees that number rapidly climbing to 20,000.
His guidance has earned his union a stellar reputation. His mentorship of union funds â€“ pension and other investments â€“ has given the Carpenters leader the ability to assert, â€œOur Pension Benefit Fund assets have grown dramatically.â€
Coryell acknowledges, â€œItâ€™s nice to brag about that, but it is much better to see our retired members collect those benefits.â€
He estimates over $150 million in pension benefits are paid each year from the Philadelphia area fund to retirees and their surviving spouses.
That is one of the reasons, notes Coryell, â€œwhy the International Union asked us to merge with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council. They recognize our hard work, aggressiveness and resources and asked us to help those members from our new area grow their market share.â€
Members of the union say, â€œItâ€™s because Ed Coryell is about us, whatâ€™s best in our interest.â€
Married with three children, Coryell points with pride to his Apprenticeship Training Center in the Far Northeast. The sprawling facility, located at 10401 Decatur Road, will host its annual Apprenticeship Graduation exercises and open house May 2, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Selected graduating apprentices will compete in five categories for general carpenter, interior, finish carpentry, floor layer, mill/cabinetmaker and millwright.
Self-effacing about his accomplishments, Coryell does boast about his four-year apprenticeship program, saying, â€œWe will be admitting the largest number of apprentices in our unionâ€™s history this year.â€
He adds, â€œItâ€™s the best training one can get. You never forget.â€
Under his leadership, the new Metropolitan Regional Council of Carpenters includes 32 locals, covering Southeastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Coryell is a member of Carpenters Local Union 8 and has been in the local for the past 47 years.
In 1976, Coryell was elected Business Agent and became a Trustee of the Philadelphia Carpentersâ€™ Benefit Trust Funds including Pension, Annuity, Savings, and Health & Welfare. He has been the Chairman of these trust funds since 1981. Coryell has successfully guided the investment management and impressive growth of these trusts. Assets of these funds total approximately $2.8 billion.
Additionally, Coryell has served in other executive, management, and directorship positions, including: Chairman of the Carpenters Joint Apprenticeship Committee of Philadelphia & Vicinity, since 1981; President of the 23,000-member Pennsylvania State Council of Carpenters since 1988; Director of Philadelphia Independence Blue Cross, since 1990 and on the IBC Executive Committee, the IBC Audit Committee and the IBC Finance Committee.
He also serves as Director of Team PA Economic Development Corp., appointed in 1997 by Gov. Thomas Ridge, and currently serving upon the reappointment by Govs. Edward Rendell and Tom Corbett.
He was appointed to the Pennsylvania Convention Center Board in 2013.