Heat And Frost Insulators Union Declares War On Mesothelioma At 30th Quinquennial Convention

Jul 25, 2012, 11:50 ET from International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers

LANHAM, Md., July 25, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- General President James A. Grogan described the Insulator's Union 30th national convention as "inspiring and life-changing," lauding the organization's wide-ranging achievements of the July 15-18 gathering in Las Vegas.

President Grogan, who was unanimously re-elected for another five-year term, said emphatically "we now have a comprehensive and well-funded plan of attack against mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases that emphasizes prevention and early diagnosis, better treatment and longer, quality lives for our members and their families."  He spoke passionately, asking convention delegates and guests, "If we don't do this, who will?"

Distinguished labor leaders who spoke at the convention included Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO; Sean McGarvey, President, Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD); Edwin D. Hill, General President, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); and James A. Williams, General President, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT).

The War on Asbestos-related Diseases
President Grogan has made it his mission to address all facets of this "orphan" health issue, and the convention delegates and his leadership voted to put in place and fund a comprehensive plan for its members, including a dedicated health fund, The Insulators Tissue Bank, to find a cure or optimal treatment options for asbestos-induced cancers, including mesothelioma and lung cancer.  Insulators have long suffered far higher than normal incidences of mesothelioma, lung cancer and other related diseases, resulting in disability and death.

Terry Johnson, Esq., along with two attorneys from the national asbestos firm of Cooney and Conway (John Cooney and Kevin Conway), announced a multi-million donation to the Insulators Tissue Bank.  The firms will contribute current legal fees totaling one million dollars, and add to that two-percent of all future collected legal fees involving cases where workers suffer from mesothelioma and related asbestos-causing diseases.

Convention delegates voted for every insulator in the U.S. and Canada to contribute four cents for every hour that they work to the new Insulators Tissue Bank, starting January 1, 2013.  This money will be used for research in finding a cure for mesothelioma and other asbestos-induced diseases. This is in addition to the two cents per hour that is currently contributed to the Insulators Health Hazard Fund, as well as what individual Local Unions do on their own.

President Grogan, Secretary-Treasurer McCourt and the General Executive Board froze their wages for 2013 and for years 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 their wages will mirror the CPI, not to exceed four percent.  In addition, the International Officers will contribute $100 per month from their salaries to the tissue bank.

It was announced by Andrew Todd, Ph.D., of Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has formally approved the tissue bank, which will be located and administered by Mt. Sinai. Dr. Todd said that only 0.01% of the general population die from mesothelioma. In Insulators, the current percentage (as of 2008 statistics) is about 1,000-fold higher at 9%.  He noted that the problem is not going away, because the death rate was also 9% in 1989. 

Researchers and surgeons at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York, have been long-standing partners in this effort.  Dr. Raja Flores, who is a thoracic surgeon and currently the Chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at Mt. Sinai Hospital and Ames Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, also addressed the delegates. Dr. Flores told the insulators of the positive inroads that are being made in the field of lung surgery, and he also provided graphic video of an actual lung surgery in his presentation.

President Grogan stressed that CAT scans are now needed to accurately detect problems; therefore, the union may employ mobile screening and blood testing that can pull right up to union headquarters or job sites.

"We leaped light years ahead at this convention in building the infrastructure and funding necessary to significantly improve our workers' health," said President Grogan. "But it is also is a shift in culture as our members become smarter and more aggressive in caring for themselves as well as their brothers and sisters."

Approximately three thousand U.S. citizens die of mesothelioma each year. The Canadian Medical Association recently reported that more than 300 Canadian men receive a diagnosis of mesothelioma each year. The asbestos medical problem is not limited to just insulators. Mesothelioma and other asbestos -induced diseases have decimated workers from every other craft in the Building Trades as well. The World Health Organization reports that over a five-year period there were 85,512 mesothelioma deaths reported from 46 countries -- that's 17,000-plus mesothelioma deaths per year from these countries, mainly western developed countries. It may continue to grow as asbestos is still being mined in some countries.

The World Health Organization says mesothelioma is on the rise globally.  The British Broadcasting Company recently reported that more than two million tons of asbestos were mined worldwide in 2009.  Mining countries included Russia, China and Khazikstan.  Leaders from Canada attest from their attempts to ban asbestos from being mined in Canada that it remains an uphill battle.  Asbestos is being exported to poor and undeveloped countries such as India and Bangladesh where unsuspecting and untrained workers are, once again, needlessly exposed.  The Insulators Tissue Bank will benefit those afflicted worldwide.

Labor Leaders Weigh in at Insulators Convention
All of the Labor leaders commended President Grogan on his leadership, dedication and commitment to the labor movement. They also all stressed the importance of re-electing President Barack Obama this November. President Hill spoke in great detail about the upcoming "Workers Stand for America Rally" to be held in Philadelphia on August 11th.  He encouraged delegates to support the rally and encouraged them to participate in this nonpartisan event that will feature the signing of the second Bill of Rights for both union and open shop workers. President McGarvey articulated how important it is for insulators to support the Republican Members of Congress who have stood with the insulators and all of the building trades crafts on Davis-Bacon protections and Project Labor Agreements (PLAs). Additionally, President Trumka encouraged Congress to pass the Mechanical Insulation Installation Incentive Act. 

President Grogan said the convention speakers also "united our membership and readied us for the "Workers Stand for America Rally" August 11th and the General Election on November 6th.  Labor leaders Trumka, McGarvey, Hill, and Williams all gave impassioned remarks about supporting Members of Congress and state and local officials who share values of the workers and their families. A moment of silence was held in memory of Mark H. Ayers, AFL-CIO BCTD President who died April 8.

President Hill said August 11 is a Labor Summit on Workers to be held in Philadelphia that will take place prior to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Aug. 27-30, and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, Sept. 3-6. He added that the workers attending the summit will create a new "bill of rights' that may be carried to both of those conventions. 

President Grogan said it will be essential for Philadelphia area insulators to attend the labor summit, and he encouraged all others interested and able to participate to be at this historic summit.  "There is no question we will be working tirelessly to re-elect President Obama and those Members of Congress, Governors and legislators who share our common-sense values and desire for economic recovery."

The delegates also voted to fund a new "soft money" Political Education Fund to which members will contribute one cent per every hour that they work.

Promoting the Mechanical Insulation Industry
Progress on specific initiatives under way to promote the mechanical insulation industry was highlighted, and union leaders were encouraged to get involved in advocating at the local, state and federal levels to maintain momentum.  Members of Congress, via video messages, along with AFL-CIO President Trumka, stressed the need for S. 1526 and H.R. 2866, the Mechanical Insulation Installation Incentive Act. 

Mike Fulton, president of the Arnold Agency's Washington office gave a presentation on the Union and National Insulation Association's (NIA) federal relations initiative.  Fulton, who has worked with the Union and NIA promoting the increased use of mechanical insulation, stated that there is bipartisan support for these pending bills which includes three U.S. Senators and 69 members of the U.S. House of Representatives. This proposed federal tax deduction for building and manufacturing facility owners to capture energy savings in commercial/government buildings and the industrial sector has the potential to create as many as 89,000 jobs annually in all 50 states.  Successes of an education and awareness campaign, conducted in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy and the NIA, were outlined as well as the pursuit for additional funding to achieve more awareness. 

Insulators Leadership Team Intact
In addition to President Grogan, other international officers re-elected for a five-year term include:
James P. "Buddy" McCourt, General Secretary-Treasurer
William P. Mahoney, International Vice President, Southeast States Conference
Kenneth J, Schneider, International Vice President, Southwest States Conference
Frederick A. DeMartino, International Vice President, New York New England States Conference
Terry Lynch, International Vice President At Large
Douglas N. Gamble, International Vice President, Western States Conference
Terrence M. Larkin, International Vice President, Middle Atlantic States Conference
Gregory T. Revard, International Vice President, Central States Conference
Frederick W. Clare, Jr., International Vice President, Eastern Canada
Mark P. Selby, International Vice President, Midwest States Conference
Vince Engel, International Vice President, Western Canada

International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers
Affiliated with the AFL-CIO Building Trades Department and the Canadian Labour Congress

The object of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers shall be to assist its membership in securing employment, to defend their rights and advance their interests as working men and women, and by education and co-operation, raise them to that position in society to which they are justly entitled.


SOURCE International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers