A Brief History of Local 392
The dawn of the Twentieth Century brought with it the growing pains of expanding Trade Unions. The working man was finding strength in unity and a powerful voice in determining his own future. His cry was for fair treatment and fair wages for fair labor.
The Steamfitters of Cincinnati were early members of the International Association of Steam, Hot Water, Power Pipefitters and Steamfitter Helpers Local Union #53. Throughout the country the United Association of Journeymen Plumbers, Gas Fitters, Steamfitters and Steamfitter Helpers of the United States and Canada , also known as the U.A., was emerging as the more powerful voice in the industry. In 1907 another Steamfitter Local surfaced in Cincinnati as local 392 and began efforts to bring all of the Steamfitters in the area under the umbrella of the United Association. After 5 years of organizing efforts a merger was negotiated and Local 392, as it is known today was born. The Charter was dated October 5th, 1912. At the time Local 392 was able to offer the following benefits, a $100.00 death benefit, $ 5.00 a week sick benefit, $ 5.00 a week strike and lockout benefit and a .52 and a half cent per hour pay scale for a 48 hour work week, adding up to $25.20 per week pay.
The Labor Movement is a continuing struggle for growth and improvement and occasionally the struggle falls within the movement. In 1922 a new Trade- line Agreement was signed in an effort to stabilize relations in the Plumbing and Steamfitting Industry. The 1926 Agreement eliminated Helpers and initiated the apprenticeship program. Local 392’s first apprenticeship class started in 1927. The “27 Club” marked the start of an ongoing effort to build on education and to grow on expanding the abilities of skilled craftsmen and women.
By 1930 wages reached $1.40 per hour and a 40 hour work week was negotiated. The depression saw falling wages, down to $1.12 and a half cent by 1933. These years also brought some landmark labor laws including the Davis – Bacon and Unemployment Acts. Local 392 was able to establish Maintenance Agreements at Schenley and Seagram’s Distilleries in 1937 creating a new area for organizing efforts int the Metal Trades Division.
The 1940’s sent the country to war and demanded instant industrial growth which created the need for a new look at jurisdiction. On February 7th, 1941 Local 392 was awarded jurisdiction over all refrigeration work through the W.P. Carroll decision. The National Convention of 1946 adopted Dr. Lapps decision of 1944 establishing the current jurisdictional lines.
The Local always offered a hand to its members in need through the efforts of a relief committee. In 1944 an official Welfare board was created.
On May 19th, 1944 Steamfitters Local 392 officially changed its title to Pipefitters Local 392. In 1947 wages reached $2.00 per hour and on January 2nd, 1947 the Charter for Pipe Trades District Council #2 was issued. In late 1940 the Government adopted a Wage Stabilization Board and put a freeze on wages. Increases at this time could only be put into benefits. Forward thinking and creative bargaining took a 7.5 cent an hour increase and started the Health and Welfare fund.
The movement in the years to follow was toward improving benefits for our members. Local 392’s hiring hall was brought into existence in 1959 and on June 1st, 1959 a vacation fund was negotiated into the contract. The Pension fund was adopted and in 1967 the Supplemental Unemployment Fund was added, helping to ease the pressure of slow times in the Construction industry.
Local 392 expanded its influence once more in 1969 with the establishment of the Mechanical Equipment Service Division. Great In-roads have been made in the Mechanical Equipment Service area bringing union craftsmen and women into many businesses and industry earlier considered non – union territory. Local 392’s forward thinking and intense training ensured the future success of this branch of work.
The officers and members of Local 392 realized that training was the key to future success. Forward thinking men and women of Local 392 gave personal time and effort to construct an outstanding training center where education could be geared to the piping industry only. The new school was opened in 1967 and expanded in 1982 to provide larger facilities for the growing Mechanical Equipment Service Division.
The early offices of Local 392 were located on 12th Street in a storefront room serving all of the Building Trades Unions. Local 392’s offices moved around town from one cramped space to another until in 1969 Local 392 purchased the building at 1228 Central Parkway. The current location of Local 392 houses all of the Union Funds and in 1981 Local 392 established a Credit Union for its members and their families.
In 1977 Local 392 under the guidance of Business Manager Robert C. Sullivan started what today is one of the largest gatherings of U.A. members outside of the National Convention. The U.A. Softball tournament is not only an outstanding display of softball skills and sportsmanship but it also has helped to foster many friendships and relationships which have benefitted Local 392 members. These relationships have enabled our members to travel to all parts of the country to work when construction was slow here at home.
In 1984 the first issue of Local 392’s newsletter, The #392 Revue, was published. The headlines read “Investment in Our Future”. This headline offers an insight into the motivation for men and women who gave so much of their time to the building of an organization not suppressed by self interest but advanced to the spirit of the union.
Local 392 has been fortunate to expand its membership in recent years through the consolidation/mergers with former Locals #113 in 1988 and Local #59 in 1998 bringing all facets of the Piping Industry under one umbrella. This has allowed Plumbers, Pipefitters and Mechanical Equipment Service Local 392 to be a major voice in the Industry not only in Cincinnati but in Kentucky and Indiana as well.
Local 392’s involvement in the Political arena has allowed our members to have top notch wages and benefits as we fight for Prevailing Wage laws and fight against the ever present threat of Right to Work legislation. It is imperative that our membership understand the importance of their voice and vote. Labor friendly politicians are our only resource for advancing the fight for working men and women. Local 392’s PAC fund is an important part of helping us to win these battles.
In 2001 Local 392 purchased property at 1300 Century Circle North in Springdale, Ohio and re-located the existing Training Center to allow for an ever expanding apprenticeship program. The new property has a square footage of 43,000 square feet located on 6.2 acres and is home to state of the art classrooms as well as labs for all facets of the piping industry. Under the guidance of the Joint Apprentice Training Committee Local 392 is poised and ready to offer any training that our membership requires to help them to be successful.
In 2016 Local 392 underwent a renovation and addition to our offices located at 1228 Central Parkway. The new addition included a much needed elevator and new handicap accessible men’s and women’s rest rooms on each floor. All mechanical systems were upgraded as well. The job was completed in late 2017 and it will allow our members and their family’s easier access to the credit union, fringe funds and the basement union hall.
In 2023, as in the past 111 years, Local 392 members will continue to be at the forefront of training in the Plumbing, Pipefitting and Mechanical Equipment Service Industries and we look forward to providing the manpower needed to help our contractors be successful in the next 100 years and beyond.