In 1864, recognizing that there is strength in numbers, the National Plasterer’s Union or the National Plasterer’s Organization began to unify the various crafts unions representing our trade. This new organization, the Building Trades Union, attempted to lay the foundations for standard wages, working conditions, regulated training for it’s members, a travelling card system, and exclusion for those unqualified for membership.
After seeing Union brothers suffer through many years of excessively long work days, in 1882 this new Union successfully established the eight-hour work day. Along with this success came the Union pledge of avoiding any “unnecessary strikes”. In 1887, we welcomed our Canadian brothers into membership and in 1914 renamed our Union to Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Finishers’ International Association. The following year the Union reached an agreement with the United Brotherhood of Cement Workers who strengthened our numbers by joining our membership.
Our trade took a huge leap forward in 1946; the Union worked with the Associated General Contractors and the Contracting Plasterers’ International Association to establish national apprentice training standards. Recognizing that member skills were moving beyond just finishing cement, the name was changed to the Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons International Association (OPCMIA).