Sheet Metal Workers Local Union No. 54
Thirteen men petitioned for a Charter with the Tin, Sheet Iron, Galvanized Iron and Cornice Workers International Association and were designated as Local Union No. 54 of Houston, Texas. The Charter, bearing the name, and dated May 7, 1890, is proudly displayed in the Conference Room of the Union Hall along with the other Charters issued as our International changed their title during the past years.
These were the horse and wagon days and most of the organized shops were located in the inner-city area. It is interesting to note that some of those shops still bear the same name and have continued to be family owned during our 100 years of affiliation.
The years of the Great Depression were trying times for the Local Union, but during this time the age of air-conditioning was beginning. The first air-conditioned building to be built in Houston was the S. H. Kress Building. The Neal Esperson building was then totally renovated for air-conditioning. So began the World’s Most Air Conditioned City in which the members and contractors of Local No. 54 played a major role.
Houston was growing and Local 54 met the challenge and continues to grow and prosper. In 1950, Local 54 moved into its new building and meeting hall; which is the present location.
The Astrodome was a challenge to the sheet metal workers. It was the largest single volume of space ever to have been air-conditioned and members of Local 54 installed the system. On the same project, the sheet metal workers provided the expertise on the special siding, the Lucite skylights (some 4,596 of them) and the miscellaneous metal work. Five different contractors were involved in this project. It was completed in 1965.
The year of 1979 brought about the merger of Local Union No. 54 with Galveston Local Union No. 144, a vibrant and historical Local of its own which was chartered in the year 1906. During the early years the two unions worked together and established a skilled workforce of sheet metal workers to maintain the job opportunities in the joint and surrounding areas. This merger increased Local 54’s jurisdiction to twenty-five counties.
As Local 54 approaches its 124th Birthday, it is focusing on the future by dedicating the Apprentice Training Center, a dream come true for its members, past to present. A note of interest is that the Sheet Metal Workers Local Union No. 54 Training Program has always been a fair and equal opportunity program and private self as never having been under a court ordered mandate.