General President Emeritus James P. McCourt Honored in Washington D.C.

Leaders from the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers (IAHFIAW) gathered on the evening of April 5 to honor General President Emeritus James P. McCourt in Washington, DC.

McCourt served as the IAHFIAW General President for five years, as he retired on Labor Day 2020, ending a 45-year career.

His tenure with the Union began as a permit worker, and several years later, “Bud” as he became known to his Union Brothers and Sisters became an apprentice with Local 6 in Boston. He earned his mechanic’s card in 1980 and quickly moved up the ranks. 

In 1985, he was elected Local 6 President and soon held other positions such as Asbestos Abatement Coordinator and Business Agent prior to being elected Business Manager and Financial and Corresponding Secretary in July 1995.

He served as a Convention delegate in 1987, 1992 and 1997. It was during the 1997 Convention, that he was elected International Vice President of the New York/New England States Conference. 

Upon the retirement of then General President William G. Bernard on Sept. 1, 2001, McCourt was appointed by the General Executive Board to serve as the General Secretary-Treasurer under newly appointed General President James A. Grogan. He was elected to the position at the 2002 Convention and re-elected at the 2007 and 2012 Conventions.

General President Emeritus McCourt's Retirement Celebration

McCourt remained in the role of General Secretary-Treasurer until 2015 when General President Grogan retired. The General Executive Board then appointed McCourt to the position of General President. He was elected to the office at the 2017 Convention and three years later, announced his retirement.  

Unfortunately, his retirement came just months into the COVID-19 pandemic began and the Union was unable to properly recognize his retirement and his many years of service to the International.  

The first major in-person gathering since the start of the pandemic was the 2022 North America’s Building Trades Union Legislative Conference, and the International decided it would be a good opportunity to celebrate and honor McCourt.

Surrounded by his family and NABTU Conference Delegates in the Lincoln Room in the Washington Hilton, McCourt was honored for his tireless work and dedication to the Union. 

The first speaker of the night was Local 6 Business Manager James Lister.

Brother Lister brought in one of the campaign signs from McCourt’s initial New York/New England Conference International Vice President run that featured his slogan, “This Bud’s for You.” He spoke of how proud he and the rest of the Brothers and Sisters of Local 6 were after their efforts to get him elected as the International Vice President of the Conference.  He also recounted a few memories and discussed the excitement Local 6 members had when “their guy” was elected “the top guy.”

Following Lister, General President Gregory T. Revard addressed the attendance and recalled his time working with General President McCourt as the General Secretary-Treasurer and  

“He never forgot about the members who were still working in the field,” said Revard. “He was fair and honest and his legacy will live on.”  

General President Revard then presented General President Emeritus McCourt with a distinguished service award and thanked McCourt’s wife and family for sharing him with the International.   

General President Emeritus McCourt accepted the award and thanked everyone for their help and support over the years. He then recounted some of the highlights of his career and explained why he did not think of himself above anyone. He was always just a mechanic from Local 6.  

McCourt then stressed the need for solidarity, not only within the IAHFIAW but with the other building trades and organizations.  

“We are all in this together,” he said. “It is up to all of us to continue to grow the building trades, whether it be the Insulators, the Iron Workers or any of the other trades.”

From there, he stressed the importance of organizing, which was a top priority during his time as General President.  

“Organize, Organize or die,” he said. “It is tough to do, and Organizer is the toughest job in the Industry.”  

Lastly, McCourt thanked his family. 

“My biggest supporter in the room is my wife Debra,” he said. 

Even though he missed parts of his day-to-day family life while serving the IAHFIAW, he thanked his family for their steadfast support throughout his career. 

As he concluded his speech, McCourt spoke about the ultimate goal of all union workers -- to be able to retire with dignity.

“Retirement is beautiful,” he concluded. 

On behalf of General President Revard, General Secretary-Treasurer Douglas N. Gamble, the General Executive Board, International staff and the entire union membership, we thank General President Emeritus McCourt for his many years of dedication and service to the Union. We wish you the best as you continue your much-earned retirement.

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