New contract raises Insulator wages $10


Wages are set to rise up to $10 an hour in two master agreements recently ratified by members of International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 36. 

Insulators reach $57.17

The biggest agreement is with Western Insulation Contractors Association (WICA), a signatory contractors association that includes Performance Contracting Inc. (PCI), Hudson Bay Insulation, Summit Contracting, and J&J Insulation, plus several smaller contractors. WICA bargains terms that other smaller insulation contractors also abide by, so in total about 255 members at 16 companies work under the terms of the agreement. 

The insulating work covered under the agreement is a highly unionized specialty trade. Workers insulate boilers and refrigeration systems used in food processing and at manufacturers like Intel. Members reach journeyman status after a four-year apprenticeship. Some stay at a single contractor their entire career, while others work for a variety of employers, dispatched by the union hiring hall.

Under the new agreement, which Local 36 members ratified April 22, annual wage increases are $2.75, $2.55, $2.30, and $2.40, totaling $10 over four years. The first raises took effect April 25, and bring journeyman wage up to $57.17 an hour. 

The increases continue a steady rise in wages; the previous four-year contract raised wages $9 an hour, and was followed by a one-year extension with a $2 an hour increase. Walt Caudle, Local 36 business manager, says the wage gains are made possible in part by the fact that the union has been organizing since the 1980s, so that it represents the overwhelming majority of workers in the trade locally.

Employers pay an additional $23.32 an hour for health, pension, and other fringe benefits, for a total package of $80.49 an hour.  

The agreement also added protections against “double breasting”—when a union employer employs nonunion workers through a subsidiary. Contractors agreed to that in exchange for Local 36 agreeing that it will not offer more favorable terms to any other employers.

Firestoppers up by $8.50

The other new contract covers firestoppers, another specialty craft. After pipefitters and sheet metal workers do their work, firestoppers follow, maintaining the integrity of fire walls by applying intumescent caulking to patch and insulate around pipes and duct work where those penetrate walls and ceilings.

Signatory employers include PCI, Hudson Bay, Summit as well as specialty contractors like Speciality Firestop Systems and Life Safety Solutions.

The new agreement, ratified at the end of March, covers about 55 members of Local 36 and raises wages $8.50 over three years. (Annual raises are $3, $2.75, and $2.75). The first raise took effect March 28 and brings the wage to $43.38 an hour. Firestoppers too are seeing steady increases; their previous contract had raised wages $11.65 an hour over three years. 

The new agreement also raises the per diem for working more than 100 miles from the home area from $106 to $135 per day.

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