True Industry Partnership Builds Opportunities for Labor and Management

In December 2015, Liberty Maintenance, an industrial coatings contractor and industry partner of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades based in Youngstown, Ohio, was awarded an over $50 million contract to clean and recoat the steel portion of the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge in Northern California, just south of San Francisco.

Liberty was the successful bidder over four other companies for the job, three of which had operations based in California.  So how did a company in Youngstown win a project over 2,500 miles away?

Liberty does, and has always performed, all aspects of work on projects as mandated in the IUPAT constitution to be negotiated into collective bargaining agreements (CBA).  This includes all rigging, installation and dismantling of the containment systems. Platforms (the floor and work surfaces of the containment system) are an enormous part of a bridge project, accounting for a substantial amount of man-hours on any job.  The platform is literally how industrial coating professionals gain safe access to the steel on the bridge they are working on.

Seen here running along the bottom of the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge in Northern California, the platform is literally how industrial coating professionals gain safe access to the steel on the bridge they have to work on, and feel comfortably secure as they do their job.

Building platforms are a part of the job that some industrial coating contractors may perform with others. This is unacceptable and where Liberty has enjoyed a competitive edge in bidding on new projects over companies that do not perform all work, and that includes opportunities that reach out from Ohio in every direction.

It is that competitive edge in the industry that the Painters and Allied Trades LMCI and the IUPAT Finishing Trades Institute (FTI) strive to maintain for IUPAT employers throughout the United States and Canada. “If one of our industry partners, like Liberty Maintenance who worked under our National Bridge and Tunnel CBA, needs assistance either in training, manpower or even regulatory issues, the IUPAT pools its departmental resources together to answer the call,” said Rick Matthews, LMCI industry liaison for the industrial coatings industry. “In this case, it was training, and the LMCI and FTI moved quickly to put needed programs in place.”

IUPAT workers install the platform in preparation to clean and recoat the steel portion of the bridge.

Under the direction of the IUPAT General Vice President Mark Van Zevern, the IUPAT FTI mobilized and worked with District Council 16 in Northern California to put new programs in place to train IUPAT members on the installation of platforms and scaffolding (in this case) produced by Safespan, a leading company in the field and the equipment to be used on this project. An aggressive schedule of Coating Application Specialist (CAS) training classes was also implemented to make certain the manpower from DC 16, as well as other members with Liberty, were all ready for the job.

The hard work was worth it as Liberty went on to successfully perform all preparations, as well as blasting, coatings and cleanup utilizing ratios workforce of IUPAT journey workers and apprentices.

“It was a true collaboration to get this training done and have the workforce ready and able to do this job,” said Emanouel Frangos, president of Liberty Maintenance Inc.  “Robert Williams and the leadership of District Council 16, Rick Matthews of LMCI and IUPAT Vice Presidents Bill Candelori and Mark Van Zevern not only helped us get the training done, but they stayed involved throughout the project over the past couple of years to make this job go very smooth.”

“Between the new training that was brought to our Council by the LMCI/FTI and the hours worked on the job, we were able to elevate the amount of journey workers and apprentices who will be installing suspended working platforms throughout the DC 16 jurisdiction for all contractors,” said Williams.

Liberty continues to bid on, and win, new work around the country using the same model for success. “We have proven that a contractor can perform this platform work for a competitive price, and we know that we have the well-trained workforce in the IUPAT to get the job done,” added Frangos.

“This is the type of partnership that we can put in place for projects anywhere in North America,” said IUPAT General Vice President Candelori. “We are ready to do the same for any of our industry partners in all of our crafts.”