Local 534 Spring 2022 Newsletter

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SPRING 2022

BUILDING NEW ENGLAND FOR OVER 100 YEARS


BOSTON LOCAL 534 | SPRING 2022

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

3 MEMBER SPOTLIGHT 4

BUSINESS MANAGER’S REPORT

FIREPROOF SPRAYERS

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CELEBRATING WOMEN IN THE TRADES

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WORKSITE SPOTLIGHT BOSTON OPERA HOUSE

Boston Plasterers and Cement Masons Local 534 represents over 400 skilled and licensed plasterers and cement masons across New England. We’re proud to set the standard for cuttingedge architectural design and durable construction. Thanks to our world-class training, benefits, and commitment to quality construction, we’ve been the trusted choice for plaster, cement masonry, and fireproofing for over 100 years.


3 TRUST PLASTER. TRUST CONCRETE. TRUST LOCAL 534.

BUSINESS MANAGER’S REPORT Brothers and Sisters, The busy season is upon us, but I know each and every one of you is ready for the challenge. After a long winter and an even longer pandemic, we’re all eager to look toward the bright future ahead. We’ve won significant contract victories, thanks to the tireless work of our organizers, and we’ve expanded our training program to reflect the new era of technology and innovation. In March, we celebrated Women’s History Month, giving special recognition to our sisters breaking barriers in the construction industry. Last year, Victoria Saar became the first woman to ever serve on the Local 534 executive board, tackling the role of Recording Secretary with more enthusiasm than we’ve ever seen. We’ve also seen women at the rank-and-file level excel, especially sister Keyonna McCray, who is featured again on page 4 for her work as a fireproof sprayer. In her short time as a Local 534 member, she’s already risen through the ranks and become a supervisor and a mentor to others. Every hard worker deserves a good union job, and our tradeswomen are no exception. We look forward to recruiting more women into our ranks as time goes on, ushering in a long-overdue new era at Local 534. Recruitment is only the beginning. When a member joins Local 534, they gain access to the highest level of training in the industry, and that training has

only improved in the past few months. Recently, we debuted a new virtual reality element to our apprenticeship training, allowing our new members to learn the fundamentals of the trade before they even step on the job site. This technology allows us to prepare for an infinite number of scenarios before they come up in real life, making our training safer, more sophisticated, and more accessible to less-experienced workers. We can continue to provide industry-leading training for generations to come with these innovations. All of these developments spell an exciting season for Local 534. Be sure to check out the rest of this newsletter for timely updates on union happenings and legislative priorities, and stay up to date on our website and Facebook page for breaking news. Thank you again for all that you do. In Solidarity, John Sweeney Business Manager


BOSTON LOCAL 534 | SPRING 2022

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MEMBER SPOTLIGHT:

FIREPROOF SPRAYERS

Retired member Tom Peckham calls fireproof

sessions that can recreate every possible

spraying “the nuisance of the job site.” At

situation all from the safety of the training

least, that’s what he says his colleagues call

center. It’s amazing.”

it. Fireproof spraying is an integral part of construction — every building that goes up must be fireproofed — but it doesn’t always get the respect it deserves. “Fireproof spraying can be kind of isolated from the other trades, and it’s a very messy process,” Peckham shared. “What we call the ‘wet mix’ needs to be mixed and pumped out of a high-pressure sprayer, and we have to do the most to protect ourselves from the mixture. That means coveralls, hats, glasses, gloves — we’ve been wearing N95s forever before everyone else started.” Fireproof spraying is also one of the oldest trades in the business, updating steadily as building codes and fire safety advance. When Peckham started, he received his training entirely on the job site. “There was no OSHA back then, about 39 years ago,” Peckham said. “You had to learn as you go. Nowadays, we have really amazing training programs. Our apprentices have access to cutting-edge technology that helps prepare

Although the job may be challenging, Peckham appreciates the hands-on experience. When he drives around the city, he can take pride in knowing that he’s had a hand in putting up some of Greater Boston’s most iconic buildings. Apprentice Keyonna McCray joined the fireproof sprayers in 2019 and was immediately drawn to the inclusive culture and camaraderie. She originally joined the union as a concrete finisher and began fireproof spraying after about a year. “It took me a while to get comfortable, but my company sees my hard work,” she said. McCray jumped into fireproof spraying knowing little and is now assisting her boss running milliondollar projects. When she first transitioned to union life, McCray was discouraged by a decrease in the number of hours she was working. Still, with some encouragement from her Business Agent, she continued her union career and took a fireproofing job in Worcester, Massachusetts.

them for the worst before it even happens in the field. We have new virtual reality training

We’ve been wearing N95s forever, before everyone else started.


This union is like a brotherhood — everyone treats each other as family, we all work as one, we are a team.

“I didn’t have any patience. I was ready to throw it all in,” McCray said. “But I’m glad I stuck with it because I came a long way, and I’m very proud of myself.” Carlos Hernandez, an apprentice with Local 534, is grateful for the camaraderie within the union. Working as a non-union fireproof sprayer for five years previously, Hernandez appreciated the learning opportunity that being an apprentice granted. “The union is like a brotherhood — everyone treats each other as family, we all work as one, we are a team,” Hernandez said. “People will give you pointers, whereas when I was non-union, I had to figure it out by myself. That’s my favorite part about it because maybe I can pass that on to the newer generation.” For Hernandez, fireproofing is a calling. Joining the union was a solid step toward making a better living doing work he enjoys. With five kids at home, the financial security and benefits he has found in union life are invaluable. “When I got my first paycheck, I thought it was a tax return,” he joked. “I have pride in saying I’m in the union. This is my local, this is who I represent.”

Apprentice Keyonna McCray, seen operating a lift, first joined the fireproof sprayers in 2019.

TRUST PLASTER. TRUST CONCRETE. TRUST LOCAL 534.

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BOSTON LOCAL 534 | SPRING 2022

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CELEBRATING WOMEN IN THE TRADES Coming off of Women’s History Month, it

long-lasting benefits, and a stable path to the

is an excellent time to reflect on women’s

middle class — it’s about time working women

history in labor and recognize women’s

reaped the advantages of a union career in the

contributions on our job sites today. Our

building trades and in Local 534.

sisters have been and continue to be advocates for the right to organize, safe working conditions, livable wages, and 40-hour workweeks. Without them, we may not have many of the great benefits that we

As a union, we look out for our members, and we can offer opportunities and benefits that our sisters may not receive elsewhere. Equal pay for equal work is one of the tenets

receive each day as members of Local 534.

that unions have been built upon. In contrast,

Women are essential to the future of the

20% less than men who do the same work in

building trades. Within the Commonwealth

the building trades. Union contracts ensure

of Massachusetts, women make up 10.3% of

that women earn the same excellent wages and

apprentices involved in building careers and

benefits as their male counterparts.

21.1% of those enrolled in Massachusetts high school vocational and technical construction-related programs. These two numbers are constantly increasing, and we’re proud to embrace and encourage the growing diversity in our industry. Unions provide family-sustaining wages,

women without a union contract earn about

Here at Local 534, we want to fight the stigma that construction is a ‘man’s job.’ We pledge to support our sisters and work alongside them as equals to create our local’s robust and successful future. Thank you to all of our members who have honored this cause. From left: Janelle Leone, Kilah Engelke, and Victoria Saar.


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BOSTON OPERA HOUSE

The historic Boston Opera House is home to beautiful, intricate plasterwork that needs to be regularly maintained, and Local 534 members

well-trained members older plastering techniques to work on these unique sites.

are the tradesmen behind it. Sheldon Austin is

It is thanks to Austin’s expertise combined with

the only plasterer in the Boston area certified

the highly-skilled labor of our members that

to work on historic buildings and is a signatory

keeps the historic Boston Opera House looking

contractor of Boston Plasterers and Cement

as beautiful as it did the day it was built.

Masons Local 534. Sheldon Austin has been a plasterer for the bulk of his life; he inherited his family’s skill and artistry and began working in plaster with his father. Due to Austin’s gift and passion for specialty work, he has taken on unique projects that not many other plasterers can. He worked on the Emerson Colonial Theatre, the Wang Theatre, the Huntington, the Boston Public Library, the Statehouse, and, of course, the Boston Opera House. Austin notes that “there is always something to be repaired at the Boston Opera House.” Since the Boston Opera House is a bustling theater— barely a day goes by without an event—Austin has done all of its small plastering projects over the years. When shows halted during the COVID19 pandemic, the building was able to undergo some well-needed repairs and upgrades. “On jobs like these, I prefer to work with union plasterers because I can trust their skill and craftsmanship,” Austin said, noting that historical jobs require careful handling of materials and attention to detail. As a signatory contractor, Sheldon Austin is honored to be a member of Local 534 and is grateful when he can teach our already Local 534 members repair the ornate ceiling of the Boston Opera House one patch at a time.

TRUST PLASTER. TRUST CONCRETE. TRUST LOCAL 534.

WORKSITE SPOTLIGHT:


Boston Plasterers and Cement Masons Local 534 7 Frederika Street Boston, MA 02124

Whether you are struggling with addiction or have a loved one that is struggling, you can find the support you need within Local 534. Visit MassBuildingTrades.org/Recovery for more information or call Billy Redmond at 617-901-5550 to start your journey with the Recovery Council.


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