Retired Sheet Metal Worker Chases Redfish in Louisiana Marshes
by Kate Nation
As Kenny Perdue chased redfish in the marshes and coastal waters around Venice, Louisiana, for the first time with Brotherhood Outdoors, the union and all the opportunities it has provided in his life was top of mind.
For Perdue, who has “watched and admired Brotherhood Outdoors since its start,” traveling to a new place with his good friend, West Virginia AFL-CIO President Josh Sword, and fishing with the individuals who create the program was the highlight of his adventure.
“We went towards the Gulf waters through channels that I felt certain we would never return from,” Perdue said. “We fished in the channel waters catching redfish and even an alligator. The gator got off the line, but he stuck around trying to get the fish we hooked.”
For Perdue, the union isn’t just something you belong to. It’s a way of life—a better life.
Following his father’s footsteps, Perdue started his apprenticeship with the Sheet Metal Workers in 1973. He spent 18 years working in multiple states as he learned the trade before he was elected as a business rep for Local 33. He went on to become the secretary-treasurer and then president of the West Virginia AFL-CIO.
He saw each position as an opportunity to help union members live a more fulfilling life. “Unions are always there to help, and I have loved being part of that journey,” he said.
Perdue has also been a crucial part of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance journey, serving as chairman of the USA’s West Virginia Conservation Dinner and leading multiple Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) projects to improve public access to the outdoors.
“In my 48 years as a member of the Sheet Metal Workers Union, one of the best things to evolve from the unions is the USA,” Perdue said. “It’s brought us together as sportsmen to do projects that are not only beneficial to our members but also to the public in the communities where we live.”
Now retired, Perdue is as committed as ever. In 2021, he led a WBG project to refurbish and upgrade a popular shooting range at West Virginia’s Pleasant Creek Wildlife Management Area, and he’s working to get another one off the ground this year.
Perdue is passionate about keeping outdoor opportunities alive for future generations, especially in his home state of West Virginia where he enjoys bass fishing with family and friends.
Reeling in “torpedo freight trains” as USA’s Forrest Parker describes redfish was a whole new experience for Perdue.
“Hooking into a 25-pound red was worth the wait,” Perdue said. “The fight was on when they hooked, so you could not make any mistakes.”
Perhaps Mother Nature showed favor on the crew because Perdue was so deserving of a trip of a lifetime. When dark clouds rolled in on his last day of fishing, they wasted no time getting back to the marina, and a hurricane hit the Gulf the day after he headed back home.
Watch Perdue and USA’s Forrest Parker reel in redfish on Brotherhood Outdoors.
“I’m thankful I was chosen to participate in Brotherhood Outdoors,” Perdue said. “The union is a brotherhood of members and unions fighting for the same dream—a better life and now the opportunity to enjoy a trip of a lifetime.”
Presented by ULLICO, Brotherhood Outdoors is also sponsored by the following unions, contractors and corporate partners: Carhartt; International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; National Electrical Contractors Association; and United Association/International Training Fund’s Veterans in Piping Program.