UAW Local 450 – Featured Interviews

Frank Steinbach Jr.
Sheet Metal Bench Worker
Steward, Vice President, Former President UAW Local 450
UAW Staff 1986-1999
Born: 1937
Hired: 1958

Frank Steinbach Jr. was born in Hiteman, Iowa, in the heart of Iowa coal country. Steinbach’s father worked in the coal mines around the Ottumwa area for 51 years, having moved with his family from LaSalle, Illinois as a child.

Steinbach Jr. remembers his father as being “very strict,” teaching his children that “kids were not to lay around.” Steinbach, along with his fourteen siblings all learned at a young age the value of hard work, and the principle that “If you didn’t work, you didn’t eat.”


Dan Lankford
Welder, Assembler, and Electrical Apprentice
Born: 1975
Hired: 2002

Dan Lankford grew up in Melcher-Dallas, a small town in rural Marion County, Iowa. His father was a welder and his mother worked at Vermeer, an agricultural implement company located in nearby Pella.

Lankford describes the Melcher-Dallas of the 1970s and 1980s as having “quiet, smalltown living.” By the 1990s, however, tensions flared, as more and more manufacturers pulled out or pressured workers for concessions.


Joshua Gene Overton
Assembler
Steward, Shop Committeeperson, Civil and Human Rights Committeeperson
Born: 1980
Hired: 2002

Joshua Gene Overton was born in Pella, Iowa, in 1980, and he was raised by his parents in the nearby town of Monroe. Describing life in Monroe, a small town thirty miles east of Des Moines, Overton says, “it was one of those things where it’s like everybody knew each other. Everybody always knew what everybody else was doing. You couldn’t get away with anything. . . . If you did something, somebody already had your mom and dad’s phone number, and they would just call: ‘I just seen so-and-so do this.’”

Overton acknowledged that for “a kid” Monroe was “fun because it was the kind of place where you could just get on your bicycle [and] ride around town.” However, he “just wanted to see more. I wanted to go out.” Overton wasn’t satisfied doing what most people in Monroe did. “These were people that, everyone just stayed there. Most people lived their whole lives there.”


Justin Limke
Painter, Welder, Second Vice President, First Vice President and President of UAW Local 450
Born: 1980
Hired: 2004

Limke was born into a military family in San Francisco, California, but he grew up on the northside of Des Moines, near his mother’s family. “I lived in the North Des Moines area for—well, until I joined the military myself,” he recalled.

“I went to North High, and I graduated in 1998. I lived, I don’t know, eight blocks from [the Local 450 union hall] the whole time I was growing up.”


Jacob “Jake” Lane
Brazer, Welder, and Welding Inspector
Sergeant of Arms, Steward, Guide, Trustee, Education Committee Member
Born: 1977
Hired: 2007

Lane was born at Mercy Hospital in Des Moines in 1977. As he said, he had a “rough upbringing.” When Lane was young, his father, a welder, increasingly succumbed to alcoholism and drug use. Although his parents divorced, Lane and his brothers ended up living with their father and eventually fell into similar patterns.

In his twenties, Lane experienced a series of brushes with the law and one act of good luck—meeting his future wife—which, combined, pushed him in a new direction. “I met my wife, I think when I was twenty-six,” he said. “She helped straighten me out a lot.” But, as he also said, “I wouldn’t be who I am today had I not learned those tough lessons.”


Jill Scott
Welder
Born: 1967
Hired: 2008

Scott was born into a farming family in Malvern, Iowa, a small town outside Omaha, Nebraska. “I loved the farm,” she recalled. “I loved [the] cattle. I was in 4-H. All of that spoke to me.” But, as a young gay woman in rural Iowa in the 1970s and 1980s, “it just didn’t seem like a sustainable life, so I decided to make other choices.”

She first left Malvern for Peru State College, in Peru, Nebraska, where she studied to be a teacher. She returned to work in a small town nearby Malvern only to find that “being gay, being a teacher, at that time, was just not something that was accepted.”


Randolph “Scotty” Scott
Press Break Operator, Forklift Operator, Assembler, Factory Level Continuous Improvement Representative (FLCIRer)
Veterans Committee, Civil and Human Rights Committee
Born: 196
1
Hired: 2011

Randolph “Scotty” Scott was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1961. After losing his parents early in life, Scott was raised by his grandmother, Lula Nolan, in the small farming community of Waterproof, Louisiana, northwest of New Orleans, along the Mississippi River.

His grandmother worked as a maid for a white family in Waterproof. This family also helped the grandmother raise the children. Scott remembers being welcome in the family’s home and being encouraged to read while spending time there.


Andrew Ehlers
Forklift Driver, Assembler
Steward
Born: 1993
Hired: 2021

Ehlers was born in Dubuque, Iowa, to a family with deep roots on the city’s Northside and longstanding connections to John Deere’s Dubuque Works. His paternal grandfather had worked as a union member in the experimental department, and his father had become an engineer at the plant.

He attended the city’s Catholic schools and was heavily involved in Boy Scouts, going so far as to become an Eagle Scout. These early experiences instilled a powerful sense of patriotism and a commitment to bringing people together to serve a common purpose.