Union History

Since 1864, members of the Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ International Association, the nation's oldest building trade, have organized workers and their community to the benefits of union membership and building with union craftsmen. Many improvements for workers in our industry and country came about from their struggles.  The 40 hour work week, overtime, public education, prevailing wage laws, safety and health regulations, healthcare and retirement plans for workers, livable family wages and respect for our Trades all came about because of our collective strength as organized workers. Most union craftsmen know that just paying dues is not enough and boldly display their pride of workmanship and union membership.

This Local, which has absorbed several smaller Locals, was chartered February 24, 1941.


Why do airline pilots, nurses, firefighters and even doctors and lawyers belong to professional organizations? Because we can all have more together than they can each achieve separately.

Earn More – It is a proven fact that members of a trade union make more money over a life time than their counter-parts who are not in a union. The ability to bargain with management as a group allows our union to negotiate better wages important fringe benefits like retirement plans and medical insurance for your family.

Retirement – Construction is physically demanding work. Union members have money set aside for them into a pension plan for every hour they work. Do you really want to work all your life and end up relying on social security to see you through your “golden years”?

Medical Insurance – How much does it cost for an emergency room visit? How about having a baby? Or God forbid, fighting cancer? No matter how much you earn, no one short of Donald Trump can afford to pay for their own healthcare. Union members have group health insurance plans that provide protection for you and your family when you need it most.

Training – Union members don’t earn the good money and all these benefits just because we are members of a union. We recognize that if we want the best we must be the best. The OPCMIA offers training for every level. Job Corps training is available to those with no experience and needing a helping hand up before beginning a formal apprenticeship. Apprenticeship programs combine classroom and earn as you learn hands-on training covering every aspect of our trades. And journeyman upgrading programs keep our members safe and sharp with the latest developments in the industry.

Pride – Union plasterers and cement masons are an important part of the construction industry. Through this fraternal organization, we insure that every member gets the best deal possible for their labor and we can collectively offer management a well trained workforce. We bring VALUE to the jobsite.

OP&CMIA Local #528 is a full service Local that represents Washington in the majority of the western counties. It also extends to some portions of the eastern counties for the Plasterers. Plasterers Local 77 was merged with Local 528 in December of 2005. All officers of the Local have worked within our trade.  The term “full service” means the Local coordinates the joint efforts of its staff to represent our members, promote training and organize within our industry. Under these broad headings are included many services to the membership, including, but not limited to, contract negotiations, contract enforcement, advanced training and certifications, guaranteed wage and benefit levels, and guarding our work and jurisdiction.


Are you having trouble finding and retaining qualified workers?

Are you spending too much time going back and fixing mistakes?

Do you want to step up and bid on a higher caliber of work?

You want to bid more work, but don’t have the manpower?

You’ve worked hard to build your reputation and your business, why settle for a workforce that is not as professional and committed to your bottom line as you are?

The OPCMIA can help you build your business, make you more profitable, and ensure that you will always have a highly qualified crew ready and able for any job.

The OPCMIA believes that in order to maintain fair wages and benefits for its members, our organization must offer the best VALUE to our industry employers who are working to succeed in a competitive marketplace.

Read our  FAQs below to see how a partnership with the OPCMIA can bring value to your bottom line.

Frequently Asked questions


Is the Union going to control my business?

No.  We want to be your partner, but have no desire to run your business.  The Union supplies skilled manpower.  It does want you to succeed, and it does want you to respect its workers.

 Is it true I can never fire anyone?

No.  You or your foreman are in charge of layoffs and discharges.

 Will the Union allow me to use my existing work force?

Yes.  Your employee's who do Cement Masons or Plasterers work would be required to join the Union as a Journeyman or as an Apprentice, depending on their skill level.

 On a prevailing rate job, do I have to pay an apprentice full rate?

No.  Apprentices in our program get paid the appropriate apprentice rate.  We are the only registered program for Cement Masons and Plasterers in Western Washington, so the lower rates are compliant with the law.

 How does the sub-contracting provision in the contract work?

A signatory general contractor must hire a  signatory sub-contractor when doing Cement Masons or Plasterers work.  This provides for a harmonious job site, and a more stable workforce.

 What do my employees have to pay to become members, and what benefits do they receive?

The initiation fee is $150 for all apprentices.  Journeyperson initiation fees are $400.  Under specific/special circumstances, Journeypersons could be allowed a reduced initiation fee of $150.  If they are allowed the reduced initiation fee they must agree to attend a union sponsored COMET/Orientation Class.  Monthly out of pocket dues are $5-25, depending on the level they come in at, and there are hourly deductions, depending on their trade.

The benefits they receive are:  representation for safety, health and other issues, a "marketing team" in the field to procure more work for all the members, free training in safety, new products and standardized methods, a voice in a democratic organization, and health & welfare and retirement benefits.

 Am I going to be less competitive as a Union contractor?

We have successful contractors in all areas of the concrete/plastering construction industry.  They are just like you, they want to make profits.  They feel they have many advantages with their business relationship with us.  Otherwise, they wouldn't bother.

 Does the Union require me to use more help than I need?

No.  As a contractor, you have the final say in manpower, and the flexibility to increase or decrease your workforce as needed.

 How long does the contract last?  Is it permanent, or can I get out if I don't like it?


A contract generally runs in either a three year or five year cycle, so it depends on when you enter the cycle.  Our Business Manager might also consider a one-job agreement, so we can both see if we are a good fit for each other.

 How do the Trust Funds work?

Through the years of negotiated wages, the membership and the contractors have allowed portions of these wages to be placed in Trust Funds, one for health & welfare, one for retirement, and one for apprenticeship and training.  The Trustees of these funds consist of representatives from both Management and Labor, who work under the goverment's TAFT/Hartley laws.  The combination of Labor and Managment assures that both interests are met.  Together, they hire the professionals that invest the funds and counsel the Trustees.  Unlike many other benefit programs in the country today, our Trust Funds are very stable, and money paid into the Trust Fund is tax deductible.

 How are benefits paid?

The contractor has until the 15th of the following month in which the work was performed to pay the benefits to the Third Party Administrator.  This includes the payroll deductions for dues and vacation funds, as well as health & welfare and retirement fund contributions.  For example, the hourly assessments for January should be paid by February 15th.

 Are there different rates of pay for new employees?

Yes.  Apprentices with no prior experience in the trades start at 60% of Journey level wage.  They receive intensive related/supplemental instruction at our Training Centers.  On prevailing wage work, these lower rates still apply.