October 28, 2016
By Silver Krieger
New York, NY – Matthew Aracich, Business Manager and Financial Secretary of Heat and Frost Insulators, Local 12, is not only a native New Yorker, but a third-generation member of Local 12, who brings his roots and savvy to his work with outstanding results. LaborPress talked with him to learn more about his background, rise through the ranks, and accomplishments on the job.
Aracich is one of four children born to his Heat and Frost Insulator father, including a set of identical twins, of which he is one. His father’s father was also a Heat and Frost Insulator. Born in the Bronx, he moved to Bayshore, Long Island in his teens. He initially worked as a commercial diver, then went to work for the U.S. government, first doing geological surveys, then as a Heavy Equipment Operator for the U.S. Navy. In July of 1985, he followed in the family footsteps by becoming a Heat and Frost Insulator in his own right. In 1988, he became a Mechanic, and a Foreman. He worked for one company for fifteen and a half years. In 1999, he became President of Local 12, then, in 2004, Financial Secretary. In 2012 he started his tenure as Business Manager and Financial Secretary, which continues to this day. Local 12 is affiliated with the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, a union that represents more than 25,000 members across the United States and Canada. About his current position, Aracich says, “I am the principal administrator. My job is to negotiate contracts and secure work opportunities. I represent the union in all capacities in political forefronts. I market the industry. We also come up with strategies to secure more work from the non-union contractors.”
His accomplishments during his tenure are many, but there are four which he deems particularly worthy of mention. The first is an increase in membership. “When I took over as Business Manager, I took a year to acclimate. In the next two years our membership grew twenty percent through organizing and apprenticeships.” Second is the acquisition and successful sale of office space. “We sold our original building in Long Island City, and when we sold it, got sixteen times what we paid for it. Then we purchased another building, also in LIC, that is four times larger. That is where our new facilities will be. It should be finished by the end of the year.” Next is what was put in place for the health of the members. “We put a screening process together to identify cancer victims, specifically those suffering from Mesothelioma, which results from exposure to asbestos. The screening program raises awareness, and helps our members.” Lastly, a hugely successful letter-writing campaign that was conducted to pass a bill in Washington to give tax incentive to buildings for insulation. The campaign was conducted by the IAHFIAW. “They requested three letters from every worker. They expected fifty percent participation. What they got, from New York City alone, was 26,000 letters. Workers asked their friends and families to write letters. This number was more than half of the rest of the country combined.” This phenomenal turnout showed the dedication and work ethic of the members.
Aracich’s talents have not gone unnoticed from those in the sphere of government. He has often been asked to testify on energy issues to legislators and government agencies, and was even invited to the White House during the Obama Administration, where he gave a presentation on the benefits of Mechanical Insulation.