“The technology has changed, and the scope of work has changed, but in our 75 years, one thing remains the same—the importance of and pride in our work,” says David Gardner, Business Manager of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 95 Union.
The largest and most influential union of trained insulation mechanics, the Association has over 25,000 members across Canada and the United States. Local 95 is the Ontario representation in support of this unionized industry.
With over a 75-year history in Canada, Local 95 has continually worked on behalf of its members to ensure the best training, jobs, and compensation, while providing the skilled workers needed to keep Ontario’s construction industry thriving.
Local 95 abides by its mission to “assist its membership in securing employment, defend their rights, advance their interests as working men and women, and, by education and cooperation, to raise them to that position in society to which they are justly entitled.”
With currently over 1,800 members, Local 95 is one of Ontario’s fastest growing locals. Part of the reason for this is Local 95’s successful apprentice program. Insulators are a Red Seal trade—Red Seal is the national standard of excellence for skilled trades in Canada—which means employers and consumers can be confident that the Red Seal tradespeople they hire are skilled and knowledgeable because the tradesperson has met the standard to do his or her job.
Gardner tells Business Elite Canada that Local 95 has 265 apprentices province-wide and has an average of 96 go through the schooling system annually. “When I meet a new applicant, I tell them about some of the benefits of joining our trade,” says Gardner. “We pay for all the apprentices’ schooling, and they are paid as they learn on the jobsite. They will earn a decent wage for their family and a pension when they retire. The mechanical insulation trade is a good career choice.”
Apprentices come out of the Local 95 program with additional universal skills such as blueprint and specification reading, application of materials, St. John’s Ambulance, supervisory skills, and personnel management. “We are trying to bring up a standard for all insulators, not just union alone,” says Gardner. “We are trying to raise the standards of all insulators to be recognized.”
Optimum Building Operation
As Ontario’s green building requirements grow, demand for properly installed insulation is also growing. For knowledgeable builders, proper insulation is a vital component to keeping building operation costs down and optimal system functions up.
“Mechanical Insulation (MI) restricts heat loss or gain for mechanical systems, ultimately increasing heating and cooling systems efficiencies. Mechanical systems that require insulation are primarily pipes, ducts, and equipment such as boilers, pumps and fans. MI has existed for hundreds of years and, though simple in design, can greatly reduce emissions and energy loss from heating and cooling systems.”
The Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change states that buildings account for 17 percent of Ontario’s GHG emissions, and have been identified as a key sector where immediate action is needed. The installation—or upgrading—of mechanical insulation goes a long way towards meeting GHG’s emission reduction.
In addition to environmental standards, a building or home with proper mechanical insulation keeps moisture and temperatures at the proper levels, helps control condensation and prevents mold, controls noise, and starts to pay for itself in time. “Going union doesn’t cost, it pays,” says Gardner. Contracting certified, reliable tradespeople mean a reliable job, and a good investment for owners.
Unfortunately, builders who go for the lowest budget may get what they pay for. “A prime example is a house that has a heating bill twice as high as the house next door,” says Gardner. “My heating bill is 5x lower than the house next to me. They investigate and found you bought a home that wasn’t properly insulated—but you paid for it. Let’s be honest, the insulation cannot be seen [by the owner]. The homeowner paid for insulated pipes, see insulated pipes, they don’t see it is shorted, and in the long run they are adding GHG gas emissions, pumps working harder, using more electricity, and losing money.”
This is exactly the type of scenario Local 95 wants to eliminate. The membership works everyday to promote pride and skill in their trade, bringing value to builders and homeowners alike.