Local 48 Business Manager Phil Rainwater retires

In October, Phil Rainwater St., the longtime HFIAW Local 48 Atlanta Business Manager, retired, capping off a more than 40-year career in the Insulators Union.

Current Business Manager Kenneth Slaven credited Brother Rainwater's successful career to his high-quality character in all facets of his life. 

"His journey is a testament not only to his professional success but also to unwavering faith, unyielding honesty and impeccable integrity," Slaven said. 

Rainwater's decision to join the union was easy—thanks to his stepbrother Gary Parker, who was an Insulation Specialist. 

"I was considering the trades and Gary had just come back from working in Alaska and showed me his paystubs," Rainwater said. "It swayed the mind of a guy right out of high school real quick."48 BM

Rainwater started his apprenticeship on Sept. 1, 1981, and topped out on May 31, 1984. Six years after becoming a journeyman, a fellow Insulator told him that he would make a good instructor. 

After that conversation,  he decided it was time to share his knowledge of the industry with the next generation of Mechanical Insulators and he became the newest instructor for Local 48's JATC. His dedication to the craft and unwavering commitment to excellence ensured the next generation would uphold the highest standards of craftsmanship. 

The longer he served as an instructor, the more Rainwater realized the union and the JATC were tied together. This led him to get more involved on the union side.

In March 1994, he successfully ran for a seat on the Local's Executive Board and remained on the board through February 2001. 

During his tenure, he guided and led the union's decision-making processes and advocated for members' rights and well-being.

In March 2001, he was elected Business Agent. In this capacity, he continued the fight for the interests of the workforce, including negotiating contracts. 

After almost seven years as a Business Agent, he was elected Business Manager. As Business Manager, Rainwater helped the Local achieve growth and success. 

During this time, the union achieved remarkable strides in worker safety, improved working conditions and enhanced benefits for members. 

"I enjoyed serving the members and I thank God for allowing me to do that," Rainwater said.

At the start of his tenure, the Local was battling through the Great Recession, and the Local 48 Pension Fund was hit hard.

"When it went bad, it was hard to tell the members about the cuts we needed to make to the pension fund and the need to keep paying into it," he said. 

Rainwater and the Executive Board then made the decision to start an Annuity Fund. 

"We needed something for the members coming into the Local," he said. "A $0.60 per hour contribution turned into a great fund. You often don't think of retirement until you can get to that time in your life, but we wanted the members to be able to retire with dignity."

Under his leadership, the Local also created a Market Recovery Fund to help compete against open shops. 

He considered the creation of both funds two of the most important actions taken during his time as Business Manager, but he was most proud of the Local 48 Pension Fund's turnaround from red to green in 13 years.

In addition to serving as Business Manager, Rainwater served on the boards of the Georgia State Building Trades, the Atlanta North Georgia Building Trades and the union's Medical Fund Board. 

While some people dread retiring, Rainwater looks at it as a golden opportunity to enjoy his life. 

"I had a good Business Agent in Kenny Slaven and saw members, my friends, pass away before they got to enjoy their retirement," he said.

Now, several months into his retirement, Rainwater does not regret the decision to step away from leading the Local. 

"Kenny will keep the Local strong, and I have faith in him and the entire Executive Board," he said.  "I'm comfortable with all the guys in charge."

For Slaven, Rainwater was someone who all members of the Local could look up to.

"His actions and words consistently mirror an unwavering commitment to what is right and just," Slaven said. "His unshakable moral compass serves as a wellspring of inspiration to all privileged to work alongside him. 

"We are indeed fortunate to have had such an exceptional individual guiding the path of Insulators Local 48 in Atlanta. We wish him continued health and happiness. Enjoy every moment and plan lots of adventures for this new stage in your life."

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