As the U.S. begins the gradual shift away from fossil fuels towards cleaner energy sources, building trades unions are working to make sure their members are trained to work on these new technologies to ensure they have future work.
Mechanical insulators stand to gain a great amount of work, as their trade deals directly with energy conservation. Mechanical Insulators Labor Management Cooperative Trust (LMCT) Deputy Director Gina Walsh detailed her career for AWF Union Podcast listeners. She also explained how mechanical insulators can lead the way in energy conservation.
Making a career out of mechanical insulation
Walsh said joining the trades were one of the best decisions she has made in her life. Following high school she pursued an education in the trades, picking a registered apprenticeship program with the Insulators Union.
She feels now is a great time for women and others to make the same decision she made. Since many people jump around between jobs, the trades are a great place to settle in and make good money.
Walsh later found herself involved in politics after someone suggested she run for a state House of Representatives seat in Missouri. She eventually won the seat and continued working as an insulator, while serving in the Missouri House of Representatives.
Later in her career, she retired her tools and joined the Mechanical Insulators LMCT as Deputy Director.
Climate Jobs Illinois
Walsh stressed the importance of bringing the trades and working class families along as cleaner energy sources are implemented in the coming decades. One group working to do that is Climate Jobs Illinois.
With Climate Jobs Illinois, unions are given a seat at the table to represent their members and their families. Walsh said mechanical insulators will have a big hand in making the U.S. more energy efficient. Applying mechanical insulation is one of the easiest ways to conserve energy in schools, manufacturing facilities and other structures.
Walsh said this plan is long term, meaning we will not flip a switch and entirely move over to clean energy sources. The shift will take decades. In the meantime, mechanical insulation is needed on existing and on new systems in the future.