Open Letter to All Mechanical Insulators in Alberta
As we all know the face of our industry in Alberta has changed and will continue to change. The mega projects that have allowed for wage increases over the last 15 years have died down and we are moving toward a more Maintenance and Small Projects based industry. This is still a significant amount of work for Mechanical Insulators.
Over the last few months there has been a scary trend of middle class trades people taking roll backs in wages, benefits and working conditions. For some trades this could be necessary because of over inflated wage packages, a glutton of certified trades people or a global change where their skill set is no longer in the same demand as before.
These are not the problems of the Mechanical Insulator. Our wage package both Union and Non-Union have increased over the last 15 years, but not significantly when compared to the cost of living or in comparison with other Mechanical Insulators across Canada. As we all know there are not a lot of Mechanical Insulators in Alberta or even throughout North America and even fewer certified Mechanical Insulators. This is why we work with the same people job to job and contractor to contractor.
Lastly, our global work outlook – In 2016 a major US newspaper published the fifteen top industries for growth in the next ten years; Mechanical Insulator was number three. When we look at the changes coming with the Canadian Building Code, the requirements for insulation thickness have in most cases doubled from previous code. Additionally, industry has shifted from the “production at any cost mentality” to a savings approach that looks at issues like replacement costs for mechanical systems due to corrosion under insulation, and the changes to Green House Gas emission taxes and levies. We are now seeing the business case for the correct mechanical insulation installed by skilled and trained Mechanical Insulators.
So what does this all mean? We are faced with three to five years of slow economic times. However, there will still be work. We as an industry, both Union and Non-Union, need to do what is right for our industry and not get dragged into a race to the bottom. Slashing wages will not create more work, it will only create smaller pay cheques. I ask that every Mechanical Insulator that lives in Alberta, or makes their living from this province, to take pride in your work and demand the wages, benefits and working conditions we deserve as professional Mechanical Insulators.
This won’t be easy, but we are all in this together, Non-Union and Union alike, we have to support our industry and move it forward as a career not just for ourselves, but for generations to come. Remember we are not just applying insulation; we are the only trade that pays for itself through reducing energy loss, reducing GHG’s and reducing maintenance costs through increased life expectancy of mechanical systems.
Our industry united will be able to fight through these difficult economic times and come out stronger on the other side.
Business Manager Heat and Frost Insulators Local 110