Hazardous Material Handler Helpers and Mechanics

Good day Union Family

Recently you have been seeing calls on our dispatch page for Hazardous Material Handler Helpers and Mechanics. This designation was originally Asbestos Remover in the International Constitution and Bylaws but was changed at the same time as Asbestos Workers was changed to Allied Workers, due to the inability for some members with this designation to find health insurance in the United States. In most cases these workers are not Insulators, they are Asbestos Abatement Members and under the International Constitution and Bylaws they have a different designation, membership card, and per capita tax.

A number of years ago Local 110 started up Local 110A for these workers. The focus of 110A was Commercial Asbestos removal, unfortunately this did not live up to the expectation and 110A became a shell with no membership. In early 2019 one of our Signatory Contractors (AlumaSafway) came to us about the possibility of doing a two year long Asbestos Abatement project for a Client in Central Alberta. This is a full demolition of the plant and could lead to more work as there is a total of five plants slated for demolition in the next few years.

It was clear from the start for a Unionized Contractor to compete in this market they could not pay Insulator wages. The market for Asbestos Abatement Workers in Alberta sits between eighteen dollars per hour on the low side and twenty-five dollars per hour on the high side. After months of consultation and meetings the final rate for a Hazardous Material Mechanic is twenty-eight dollars per hour on the cheque with a total package of thirty-three seventy-five, and a Hazardous Material Helper is twenty-one fifty on the cheque with a total package of twenty-six sixty. Also, in the agreement if Insulators are utilized as Foreman or General Foreman, they will be paid at Insulator rates. Any Insulators working rope access will be paid the insulator rate with a five dollar per hour rope uplift.

In the end the agreement was signed April 2020 for a term of three years for all demolition work for this client. Since, Asbestos Removal is not part of registration bargaining, each project, contractor, or client will have separate agreements that may have variations to the terms and conditions. These agreements are specific to decommissioning and demolition of plants that require Asbestos Abatement. This is not for ongoing maintenance projects that require Asbestos Abatement. These agreements help to secure new work without taking away from our current Mechanical Insulator Agreement terms and conditions.

This is a market that the Union has allowed to be taken over by alternative workforces and this is a small step towards building a workforce and pushing back. It was not the intention that our current Insulator members would be manning these projects, but with all the issues currently it is an option for work if a Member chooses.

In solidarity

Kevin Lecht                                                                          

Business Manager