In the late 1880s, steel had virtually replaced wood and stone as the primary load-carrying material in the erection of bridges and buildings. This abrupt change in structural materials brought about a demand for a new type of worker-bridgemen and architectural ironworkers. Ironworkers became known as "cowboys in the sky." As these daring, young, independent men aged and became husbands and providers, their thoughts turned to providing for their families during sickness, injury and death and the realization by joining together, their voices became stronger, unified and heard. Thus, the International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers of America was established on February 4, 1896 by 16 delegates who attended our founding convention in Pittsburgh.
Shop Ironworkers originally referred to as Blacksmiths or Housesmiths fabricate the individual steel components, which form the structural steel framework for buildings, airports, stadiums, and bridges. Other areas of metal fabrication include rebar manufacturing, building metal stairs, handrails and various ornamental metal products using steel, aluminum, copper, and brass which are manufactured by the shop ironworker. Shop Ironworkers also perform handling of raw steel components and steel peening of airplane parts.
Even though Regional Shop Local 855 was chartered on July 1, 2023, we carry the history and pride and knowledge from our predecessor Locals with storied histories going back over 80 years. We will continue to fight the fight for workers our predecessors started, and we look forward to a future where Local 855 continues to grow through organizing the un-organized, and leveling the playing field for our signatory contractors.