In December 2017, union and business leaders gathered at the LMCI Finishing Industries Forum (FIF) in Las Vegas to form four committees addressing key industry challenges. The collective goal of those four committees was to create a plan that will increase the work IUPAT contractors win, grow the ranks of the union and provide a resource for the men and women of the IUPAT who are facing personal hardships and reaching out for help.
On expanding market share for IUPAT contractors, which means more job opportunities IUPAT members, two committees were formed in the industrial painting and glazing trades. Since that December FIF, representatives of each committee have met several times to form a plan and put it into action.
The glazing committee surveyed over 1,000 IUPAT glazing contractors across the United States and Canada to identify new opportunities in the sector and the best way to tap into them. Currently, a research piece based on the survey and contractors interviews is being developed, as well as initial marketing materials to eventually be used by IUPAT glazing contractors to win these new sectors of the industry.
One of the primary goals of the industrial coating and painting committee was to develop web-based marketing materials that can be customized to highlight the local work of IUPAT painters. The committee worked with a company to identify the internet platform for design, and met mid-October for training on how to customize the marketing and information piece. The goal is for IUPAT representatives and organizers to use the system in their efforts to win more work throughout the United States and Canada.
In August, 216 IUPAT contractors and over 2,300 IUPAT members responded to a survey created by the committee formed to address suicide prevention and substance use disorder. The objective of the research was to measure their awareness of local programs and resources available to them to address substance use disorder and mental health issues.
Unfortunately, only nearly two-thirds of contractors, and well under half of the members surveyed were aware of programs available on the district council level to these issues.
In addition to correcting severe lack of awareness of available programs, the committee commissioned a new website that acts as a clearinghouse of information for members and employers to seek help for either themselves, an employee, a friend, or loved ones.
The site, www.IUPAThelpinghand.com, lists helpline phone numbers, gives the means to locate a local treatment center and provides educational materials to download and post in the workplace or distribute to fellow members.
The International Finishing Trades Institute is also lending a hand by developing curriculum and a peer advocacy program. This training is designed to inform and empower the construction industry by separating fact from fiction and encourage our workforce to choose proactively when it comes to behavioral health issues and addictions. Our goal is to educate individuals, in turn promoting a healthy, safe, and substance free working environment. The first courses are scheduled for late November.
In addition to finding avenues for bring new members to the IUPAT, the recruitment and retention committee has a strong emphasis on retaining those members, and the members we have now. One of the ways they plan on accomplishing this retention is by developing a mentorship program. This program will give young members an experienced member to turn to who, ideally, will help the younger and newer members navigate the challenges of their career and introduce them to the advantages of being union and staying union.
The committee is also developing a program and materials to address teachers, school counselors and principals on school professional developments days. This program will be designed in way that union recruiters can use in any part of the United States and Canada.
Check back for more updates on how IUPAT labor and management are working together to create more work opportunities and a better life for those in the Finishing Trades.