2017  |  2018  |  2019

A Wake Up Call from Mike O'Connell - (7/16/2018)

Unemployment at historic lows, stock market at all-time highs, construction outlook promising, the push for energy conservation and emissions reduction driving insulation levels higher and higher. Facility owners, manufacturing, processing, power generation and petro-chem plants around the country are acknowledging the benefits of “going green”.  Demand for mechanical insulation contractors and insulators is rising and will continue to rise.  Recent articles in USA Today and Money magazine cited a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report among all careers that Mechanical Insulator is one of the top 10 fastest growing jobs.  The BLS report projected Mechanical Insulation growth at 37.6% between 2012 and 2022. A projected growth rate of 3.2% per year for each of the 10 years.

So WHY the gloomy headline? Our industry should be high fiving.  But Union Insulation Contractors and Unions are NOT “high fiving” – we’re scrambling.  Union insulation contractors and local unions are NOT experiencing the 3.2% growth rate each year as predicted by the BLS.   Union membership growth in about 25% of the union locals in the country, namely California, Washington, New Jersey, Maryland, Boston and St. Paul Minnesota, have matched the BLS predicted annual growth rate.  Unfortunately, the remaining 75% of union locals have experienced less than predicted growth and many have experienced losses.  Traditionally strong union markets like Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago are not experiencing the predicted membership growth rate. In fact, these three markets are down -9% each year since 2012.  Even with this current economic boom, the Chicago insulation local is suffering the lowest employment rate in the last 10 years.  Across the country, union membership data from annual union LM-2 BLS filings indicate that membership over the same time period is growing at only 0.9%; well short of the BLS predicted 3.2% growth.  Growth is good but when our Union growth is far short of the industry as a whole – then we are only in survival mode.

So where is the growth going?  Well here is the CALL to union contractors, locals, International Union and union members……..It’s time to WAKE UP!  Despite some promising work on the horizon, we ALL must wake up and see that we are merely surviving – when we should be thriving.  Mechanical Insulation work is growing year after year.  We must not only keep pace with the growth, we MUST be better.  We can ALL be better.  Better than all that threatens us.  Better than Non-Union.  Better than other trades doing insulators work. 

But the WORST scenario facing all of us (who have been loyal 100% union) – is the scourge and rise of double-breasted insulation contractors!  They are everywhere today.  Even in what used to be “strong” union markets like Detroit and Chicago.  Most double-breasted insulators are the large national firms recently gobbled up by private equity (Wall Street).  Operating covertly and right under the noses of the International, locals and in plants we all worked so hard to be union.  Its time union members working for these large double-breasted insulators to not look the other way or even sign them to another local CBA.  Locals, contractors, members and especially the International must band together and tell them to STOP!  Join us.  These private equity double-breasted beasts need to be told by the International that you are either with us OR against us.  Tell em “You are either 100%union or you are none at all!”

These double-breasted Wall Street beasts sign a CBA in a faraway Local, then infiltrate a once “union” plant hundreds of miles away.  They won’t sign a CBA in the locals they are working.  Then, the unsuspecting local provides them trained union members.  Once in, they quickly convert the future contracts to their non-union “united” side and the union is out for good.  If the International continues to allow these private equity beasts on their path of picking off local by local, market by market….it is only a matter of time before union membership growth is negative in every market.  It’s happening in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Chicago and today in Detroit.  And worst of all, it’s only a matter of time before most (medium to smaller) privately owned 100% past loyal union contractors see this as the only way to survive and proclaim…”if you can’t beat em….join em.”

This is a call for a national meeting, discussion and common direction among us all working for the Union Insulators way - to come together.  Work together to identify opportunities to be more competitive – make REAL changes now.  Remove barriers and old ways are restricting Union growth.  Build together on the strengths that differentiated us from all others - quality and safety.

And most of all…THRIVE together.

Its time to wake up!  Evolve or die. LETS DO IT!!
You President,
Mike O’Connell
Smart Energy Insulation

Show All News Headlines