The Bricklayers and Plasters first organized their own union in Newfoundland in 1896. However, along with other early-organized unions, it did not continue for very long and was dissolved. At a meeting held at Victoria hall in St. John’s in 1904 the present day local was formed when the Bricklayers along with the Stone Masons and Cement Masons once again established a union, which was called Bricklayers and Masons Protective Association.
On September 24, 1951 the members of the Bricklayers and Masons Protective Association joined the International. A special meeting was held and in attendance were Brother John McLeod, third vice president of the International; Brother Cyril Strong, representing the Federation of Labour; and J. J. Spratt, honourable president of B.M.P.A.
In October 1951, the first official meeting was held under the new name of Bricklayers, Masons and Plasterers International Union of America, Newfoundland Local No. 1. The International later changed its name to International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers therefore Newfoundland’s local became IUBAC, Local No.1 Newfoundland.
With the coming of confederation in 1949 the 50’s and 60’s saw steady growth. With the building of the Confederation Building, Memorial University, St. Clare’s and Waterford Hospitals, skilled trades people were in much demand and very few of our members were out of work during this period.
It was during the 1970’s and 1980’s that our local experienced unprecedented growth. In May 1971 the local hired its first full time Business Agent, Raymond Ryall and June 5, 1975 it was agreed the local should hire a secretary to help with the office duties. The Province saw significant growth with major industrial construction such as Churchill Falls, the Come by Chance refinery and Stephenville Linerboard Mill. There was also major government work ongoing such as the Health Science Centre, Engineering Building, Arts and Culture Centre. It was in 1983 that the Mason Helpers left the Labourers union and joined us to complete the present day Local.
The early 90’s brought severe downturn in Building Construction throughout the Province, which helped accelerate the growth of the non-union contractors in this province. The only bright light in the 90’s was the Hibernia project; a project that gained our members almost one million man-hours of work and by 1997 the Local had almost one million dollars in the bank. With the ending of the Hibernia Project the Local experienced another severe downturn both in terms of work available to our members and the finances of the Local.
We have experienced a slow upturn in construction projects in the past few years and the finances have improved vastly as well. Over the past year our membership has expanded to Labrador and we now have 9 Female members, a first in our history. With the upcoming projects that are either planned or announced the economy of our Province is expected expand greatly in the coming years. It is quite conceivable that within several years this Local could experience growth similar or even greater than that of the 70’s. In 2004 the Department of Education certified our Local to operate the BAC Masonry College, this will enable us to train the Masons we require into the future. It will also of course help ensure that we will be here for another 100 years.
We are confident that the dedication of generations before us will not be forgotten, and will serve as a guide to future generations that are working towards a better way of life. We will remain proud of our craft and our members. We are the best in the business.