History Insulators Local 26
The first organizational meeting of Heat & Frost Insulators Local 26 took place on December 9, 1912. Asbestos Workers International President Joseph A. Mullaney was present to conduct the meeting. President Mullaney addressed those present on the advancement of Unionism through Organizing. Mullaney also assured those present that the Building Trades as well as the Central Labor Organization would be behind the new Insulator Local that was being formed in the city of Rochester. Little did those (7) seven men present that December evening so long ago realize what a legacy they were about to begin. Rochester was already considered an industrial giant with its many manufacturing plants and steam generation was used in every one of those plants to drive the machinery that helped make the city of Rochester the fledging industrial giant that it was steadily becoming. The names of those (7) men who would (1) one month later become the Charter members of Insulators Local 26 were:
Original Charter Members of Insulators 26
Harry B. Coon
The organizational meeting was adjourned and the first regular Union meeting of the new Insulators Local 26 Union was scheduled for (28) eight days later.
The first meeting took place on January 6, 1913 and an election of officers took place. Harry B. Coon was elected as the first President and F.M. Baetzel the first Business Agent of Local 26. The young Local was up and running and never looked back. Work was slow through the Great Depression of the 1930’s and the years during World War II were not kind to the Union Building Trades movement as a whole but somehow the Members of Insulators Local 26 found a way to keep their organization moving forward and growing along the way. The post War years saw the Western New York area take off with development as the Nation recovered from the devastating effect the War effort had on the economy and Local 26 not only survived but flourished during this time. The Local continued to grow and we formed our first Apprentice Training School in the 1960’s.
Today we continue to be a thriving Building Trades Union providing our members with work opportunities and Benefits second to none. Local 26 moved into its present headquarters in Rochester, N.Y. in April of 1995 and now we operate out of a state of the art facility as well as conduct our training program in our new on site ultra modern Training Center which insures our members that Local 26 will continue to thrive as we move forward into the 21st Century. Local 26 continues to advance our agenda through the principals of collective bargaining while ensuring our Member’s rights are never compromised. The bond the Brothers and Sisters of Heat & Frost Insulators Local 26 share with each other will always be based on the concept of a fair wage and a safe work environment with the intent of leaving this Trade better off for those that follow us in the future, never forgetting those that came before us who fought and worked so diligently to create what we have today!
Business Agent Term of Office
George Abel - Oct 1931
Ernest Krause Oct 1931 - Oct 1935
Gus Cook Oct 1935 - July 1936
Burton Beikirch July 1936 - Dec 1946
William Smith July 1946 - July 1947
Gus Cook July 1947 - July 1950
John Coolidge July 1950 - Nov 1951
Ken Tennity Dec 1951 - Jan 1954
Jack Coon Jan 1954 - June 1954
Herbert Lord July 1954 - Jan 1962
Joe Carter Feb 1962- Jan 1965
Jack Otto Feb 1966 - May 1966
Herbert Lord Jun 1966 - Oct 1972
William Urquhart Nov 1972 - Jan 1994
Brian Urquhart Feb 1994-Present
The 20,000 members of today’s International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers proudly trace the history of their union to the earliest days of the modern industrial era.
The first attempt to form a national bond between the existing insulators, associations came in 1900, when the Salamander Association of New York City (which took its name from the reptile that, according to legend, had a skin that was impervious to fire) sent out an appeal to related crafts in other cities to form a “National Organization of Pipe and Boiler Coverers.” This initial effort by the Salamander Association’s Joseph A. Mullaney and John Boden met with little enthusiasm. That initial appeal did not spark interest, and two years later a much more decisive action was taken by the officers and members of Pipe Coverers’ Union Local No. 1, of St. Louis, Missouri.
Local No. 1 sent out an announcement that it had affiliated with the National Building Trades Council of America, and invited other pipe coverer unions and related trades to join with them in the pursuit of better working conditions, pay that was commensurate with their skills, and the strength that comes from unity. The first appeal for unity was sent to targeted cities where other Pipe Coverers already were enjoying the benefits of union affiliation-New York, Chicago, Cleveland, and Detroit.
The interested locals who had responded to the call for formation of an international union met for their first convention on July 7, 1903. Local No. 1 President J.W. Shearn called the convention to order. Thomas Kennedy of Chicago was elected the first president of the organization. In 1904, at its annual convention, a formal name finally was adopted by the organization- The National Association of Heat, Frost and General Insulators and Asbestos Workers of America.
A massive, national open-shop campaign was waged, one that was at least equal to the initiatives being pushed by these same interests today. But the early leaders of the Insulators knew from the beginning that they would have to fight for mere survival, and this determination was expressed in the earliest conventions by providing funds for organizers.
In 1910 several Canadian local unions added their strength to their American brothers and the organizations name became The International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers. Through the years, the International has enjoyed exemplary leadership from its elected officers-from the first President, Thomas Kennedy; to the 43-year tenure of Joseph A. Mullaney; to Carlton Sickles, who served as secretary-treasurer for 21 years before holding the office of president for another 13 years; to the late Alfred E. Hutchinson, The current General President, James A. Grogan, has led the International since 2001.
At the 2007 Convention the organizations name became the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers.
General President Term of Office
A.J. Kennedy July 7, 1903-August 6, 1912
Joseph A. Mullaney August 6, 1912-December 25, 1954
Carlton Sickles December 29, 1954-May 9, 1967
Hugh Mulligan May 9, 1967-September 5, 1967
Albert E. Hutchinson September 5, 1967-June 19, 1972
Andrew T. Haas June 19, 1972-January 11, 1989
William G. Bernard January 11, 1989-September 1, 2001
James A. Grogan September 1, 2001-August 3, 2015
James P. Bud McCourt August 4, 2015- to present