Until 1988, interpretation of welding codes resulted in practically all field construction Boilermakers having to take a job-site administered welding test before performing any code welding each and every time that he/she went to work for a different employer. For some Boilermakers, this meant as many as a dozen or more similar tests in a year. In some situations, it even meant taking the same test for two different contractors in one week-at the same owner facility. Maintenance of quality standards are of utmost importance in the industries serviced by the Boilermakers, but the level of redundancy that had developed was not the result of quality standards but the methods of documentation that were required of individual contractors. If the employing contractor did not have documented evidence that the Boilermaker had welded for the contractor within (now) a six-month period of time, the Boilermaker had to take another welding test. In the meantime, the owner's facility was sitting idle. For an electric utility, this could mean as much as $5 million per hour in unrecoverable revenue during periods of peak energy needs. It was very clear that if the Boilermakers and the National Association of Construction Boilermaker Employers (NACBE) could develop a better system for documenting welder performance, the owner community would benefit greatly and in turn would recognize the cost and quality benefit of using Boilermakers and Boilermaker Contractors.

Enter Common Arc Corporation. It was a recognized necessity that welding, testing, and performance must be under the control of the contractor. NACBE created Common Arc Corporation in 1988 and immediately turned to the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers for joint representation on its board of directors, executive and operating committees. For Common Arc to achieve its potential, a committed, team approach of union and contractor working in unison would be necessary.

Common Arc has been a shining example to American Industry of what organized labor and committed contractors can accomplish by working together. At the end of 2001, 9,800 Boilermaker welders and 220 union contractors were participating in Common Arc. The average cost of welder certification tests has been reduced by over 95 percent.

No longer does a Boilermaker have to drive all night to a remote location and take a weld test that will determine whether or not he will have a job. With Common Arc, the Boilermakers arrive at the work site already tested and ready to perform productive, quality work that will bring the owner's facility back into production in a shorter time and more cost effectively. Such a commitment to performance has made the Boilermakers the most progressive union in America in the eyes of its employers and the industries serviced.


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