Then & Now: The History of Local 24
The history of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers Union can be traced back to the early days of the modern industrial era. The expansion of steam power around 1880, led to more efficient industrial plants and created thousands of new manufacturing jobs. Steam power also brought better working and living conditions. Along with these benefits, came the creation of an entire new industry of insulation. Insulation was needed to conserve the precious energy being piped from boilers into factories, offices and homes across the nation.
It was August 24, 1907 when 11 organized insulation and asbestos workers of the Washington, D.C. area were granted the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators & Asbestos Workers Local Union No. 24 charter. The charter was a significant achievement for these workers and it marked the beginning of a strong local labor union. In 1914 mechanics earned only $.46 7/8 (that cents) per hour; by 1920 it was $1.00 per hour and it was not until 27 years later in 1947, that the wage went over $2.00 per hour! In 1917, came the eight hour workday, but still working six days a week.
Through the years the officers and members of Local 24 strived to obtain better working conditions and wages for the insulation craftsmen; gaining premium pay for overtime, time off for holidays and a steady increase in wages. A Health and Welfare Plan was established and shortly after, a pension plan too. As a direct result of enhanced pay, benefits working conditions, the craftsmen of the Local took great pride in the quality of their work. In the November, 1973 Asbestos Workers Journal, Local 24 members were recognized for winning awards for on many projects and for their outstanding work at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Generating Station.
Washington, D.C., our Nation’s Capitol, proudly showcases a great deal of Local 24’s history. Our craftsmanship can be seen in the government buildings, monuments, sports venues and grand tourist attractions. Even getting around this great city was made easier by hard-working members in the tunnels of Metro. Every construction worker shares a special pride in re-visiting a job that they have helped to build. That’s especially true in a city built to demonstrate the freedoms our members cherish. In more recent times, members proudly stepped up in the shadows of 9/11 and helped to rebuild the Pentagon. Work on this project was done round-the-clock to make sure this symbol of our Nation’s unity would stand strong again.
Along with the representation of insulation workers for fair, safe and healthful working conditions, Local 24 is involved with many community based activities. Each year we are active participants in the Laurel Main Street Festival. We use this opportunity to promote our organization as well as fundraise for the AFL-CIO’s DAD’s (Dollars Against Diabetes) Day Campaign. Through special collections, raffles and donations we have raised thousands of dollars for this worthy cause. We are active in supporting local charitable organizations and schools. In 2003, Local 24 established the George W. Snyder Memorial Fund in honor of our late leader of the union. The Fund holds a golf outing each year to help raise money for mesothelioma and other cancer research. Mesothelioma is the cancer that claims the life of countless insulators and asbestos workers every year. The Fund as donated thousands to this charity and the outing brings in participants from all over the country.
The excitement continues to grow as members of Local 24 celebrate their 100th year of existence; an historic milestone that will be recognized with a great deal of celebration culminating with a gala event in Washington, D.C. on October 6, 2007. Our future looks bright and we look to continue the story of success for many centuries to come!