WCC Hosts Signing of Historic Labor Agreement
Washtenaw Community College was the site for the signing of an historic agreement on August 15 between the professional plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters of the United Association of the United States and Canada (UA) and the Plumbing Trades Employees Union of Australia (PTEU).
The signing was attended by a number of dignitaries from state and national government including Nathanael P. Tamarin, special assistant to the President for Public Engagement, Congressman John Dingell (D-MI-15) and Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
A first between the two unions, the agreement seeks to help streamline the building industry, reduce the shortage of skilled workers, and provide unprecedented efforts to tackle the global problem of climate change.
“Emerging technologies and building standards promise to have a significant impact on the efficient delivery of energy and water. It is essential that we share best practices and training as systems, products and technologies begin to standardize globally,” said UA General President William P. Hite. “The UA will initially share its expertise in heavy industry as Australia embarks on expansion of oil and gas refining, and power generation projects. Our experience in training workers for certification in welding, instrumentation installation and calibration is highly valued by our industry.”
Close to 2,000 UA members from across North America converge on the WCC campus each August for one week of intensive instruction. They come to learn the latest technology in the industry and how to teach it to journeymen and apprentices back at their home locals. They also earn college credit in the process.
“One of the most important relationships the UA has is with Washtenaw Community College,” said Hite. “We have been holding our instructor training program here for 23 years, and it is one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.”
In her remarks to the more than 300 contractors and industry representatives in attendance that morning, Jane Oates, assistant secretary of the U.S. Employment and Training Administration, praised the training commitment of these new affiliate organizations.
“Earning college credits gives trades people so many options,” said Oates. “You (UA instructors) have the benefit of going through a training program that gives you those world-class technical skills and academic credit. You are professionals in your field and you are educators.
“Right now we are in a war with parents to get them to understand that it’s not an either or situation,” added Oates. “That by going into a building trades program you are not settling. Instead, you are putting yourself and your job on a pathway toward a career that will not only get you into the middle class, but will help you help others get there too.”