Christopher Winters

Tribal Affairs Liaison, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council #5

My childhood and early adulthood years were spent in the mid-west being raised in a rural setting and working through High School with my stepfather as a painters’ helper. Later I found myself in the oilfields after my father suffered a medical condition from his occupational exposure to the trade.  Prior to graduation from Barnsdall High School in Barnsdall, Oklahoma, I had signed up for early enlistment into the U.S. Army.

I started my career in the service as an Armor Crewman/Infantry – Scout and, after traveling through Europe, I decided to re-enlist for another “hitch”.  I spent another tour as an Infantryman, NBC (Nuclear Biological & Chemical Warfare) Specialist, Marksman and an “OPFOR” (Opposing Forces) Team Leader.  I met and married the love of my life after being stationed in Fort Lewis Washington. We moved to Kansas (The First Infantry Division, Fort Riley) and I was selected for deployment and sent to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and then Iraq.

After leaving military service, I took a job as a Security Specialist.  I then decided to return to school and registered in an Apprenticeship program to be a painter.  (Architectural / Commercial / Industrial).  Joining the Union and working through school afforded my spouse and I a better standard of living. After completion of school and becoming a Journeyman Painter, I began to get active in the community as well as leadership activities within my company.  Within a short period of time as a lead man, I was promoted to Field Supervisor.  The Union recruited me to join the ranks of local leaders and field representatives.

I accepted the offer and have attended numerous classes in leadership at the National Labor College in Silver Spring, Maryland (George Meany University).  After two years as a Field Representative, I was elected as the Business Representative for the South Sound Area and served until 2019.

In addition, I have served at the request of former Washington Governor Gary Locke and Gov. Christine Gregoire as a Labor Representative on the Board of Correctional Industries in the state of Washington. In 2014, I served as a Board Member on the Marysville/Tulalip Chamber of Commerce (ex-officio). I was also appointed to the City of Tacoma Human Rights Commission, as one of thirteen Commissioners, from 2012 - 2016.

In 2019, I received both the Washington State Labor Council Apprenticeship Award for creating pathways for Tribal and military candidates and the CTER National Award for bringing Tribal nations and labor together for workforce development.

Other affiliations and positions: I was the Judge Advocate of VFW Post #91 and DAV Chapter #18 in Tacoma, where I am a Life Member in both organizations. I am an enrolled member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and an adopted member of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians and a member of the Inter – Tribal Warrior Society.

My military awards and decorations include: Bronze Star Medal, Army Accommodation Medal, Army Achievement Medal (six awards), Good Conduct Medal (second award), Southwest Asia Service Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal, National Defense Medal, Overseas Medal (Second award), and Expert Qualification Badges for Pistol, Rifle, Master Driver – wheel / track, and Grenade.