About Us

In 1769 James Watt patented the steam engine which was instrumental in ushering in the Industrial revolution. The steam engine allowed human and animal labor to be replaced. The steam engine could operate 24/7 and in turn led to the development of complex machines powered by steam. In 1807 Robert Fulton constructed the first steamboat. As the 1800s progressed, many innovations were developed around the use of the steam engine and machines which were able to do more and more tasks. By the late 1800s the use of machines in factory systems and transportation had allowed for the increase in production of coal, iron and steel. Steam power was used for transportation, manufacturing, and heat for homes. These advances required piping and boilers for the production of steam. Insulation on these pipes and boilers allowed for increased temperatures, pressure and efficiency and less coal requirements for production. It is in this environment the trade of the Insulators was born.

The American Labor movement was in its infancy at the turn of the century. In 1869 the Knights of Labor were formed unifying various forms of labor. In 1881 The Federation of organized trades and Labor unions was formed headed by Samuel Gompers. In 1886 after some missteps by the knights of labor and some disagreements with the Federation a convention was held in Columbus Ohio and as a result a new organization was formed which comprised elements of both organizations called the American Federation of Labor the (AFL).

The need for insulation to conserve energy was important and was being done by skilled craftsman who were not part of a collective group. This condition led to poor working conditions, varying wages and benefits if any. Some local organizations developed in cities which were an attempt to set standards and promote the interest of the members who worked in the insulation industry. One such organization was the Salamander Association of New York City which tried in vain to form a National Organization of Pipe and Boiler coverers. Although this first attempt in 1900 failed it sparked interest in the idea and two years later Local no. 1, of St Louis Missouri sent out a message that they had affiliated with the National Building Trades Council and encouraged other unions engaged in the same or similar work to join with them to form a National Union.

Seven unions responded and on July 7, 1903 a convention was held, Thomas Kennedy of Chicago was elected the first President and a Constitution and bylaws were formed. The following year 1904 a name was chosen “The National Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers of America”. On Sept 22, 1904 the AFL issued an official charter conferring and recognizing the Heat and Frost Insulators as a National union.

In 1910 several Canadian unions joined and a request was made to the AFL to change the charter to reflect this addition. The change was accepted and The International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers was established.

The New International made efforts to grow its membership and so in the midst of the Great War, World War 1, on July 6th, 1916 Local no. 45, Toledo Ohio was chartered.