Conference Focuses On More Than Education

November 9, 2002
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LAS VEGAS, NV — The Mechanical Service Contractors of America (MSCA) gathered once again for its annual Education Conference. This is the 17th year for the conference, which provides members with hands-on workshops, business seminars, an industry trade show, and lots of networking opportunities.

This year’s conference, held at the Hyatt Regency Lake Las Vegas Resort, focused on bettering the businesses of MSCA members, as well as improving unions as a whole.

INSPIRING SPEAKERS

The MSCA Education Conference included presentations from several speakers. Keynote speaker for this year’s event was Oliver North. North’s presentation, titled “America in the New Millennium,” recounted his 20 years of experience as a U.S. Marine and as a staff member of the National Security Council during Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

North not only focused on his past experiences, but also expressed his thoughts on current U.S. issues, including the economy, politics, and the military.

The military theme continued the next day, as a team of military fighter pilots took part in “Afterburner Day.” The session was designed to help MSCA members improve their businesses by examining the steps fighter pilots follow when preparing for a combat mission. Attendees were grouped in “squadrons” to formulate plans that would help them increase their market share. The event stressed leadership, teamwork, and communication as keys to success.

THE STATE OF UNIONS

Attendees had the opportunity to take part in a number of workshop courses, which covered such topics as customer service, recruitment, resolving conflicts, training, and certification.

This full day of educational courses began with a special morning session. A “changing of the guard” started off the special session. Don Batz, former MSCA chairman, welcomed and introduced Robert Malia as the new chairman of the MSCA board of managers.

MSCA then welcomed Richard Bensinger, founder of the Organizing Institute of the American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).

Bensinger, an independent consultant to labor leaders, has recently published Reaching Higher: A Handbook for Union Organizing Committee Members.

Bensinger shared some secrets on how managers and owners can improve their employee relations. He also spoke about how unions can help companies, asserting that unions need to undergo a transformation.

First, Bensinger said that union density has been on the decline. He pointed out that in 1960, about 40% of businesses were union, compared to 9% in 1999.

He said that this decline is due in large part to the fact that unions typically do not focus on recruiting. Bensinger claims that only about 5% of union funds go towards recruitment.

In contrast, Bensinger pointed out a recent poll conducted by Peter Hart. The poll says that 51% of employees want to be part of a union. With this in mind, unions must make it easier for employees to become union members. It also means that company owners and managers should recognize the benefit in letting employees become part of the union.

Bensinger said that some owners resist allowing their employees to unionize, but unions can provide employees with what they want most. He said that the two top desires of employees are job security and training.

“Most people don’t see jobs as being secure,” said Bensinger.

He said that unions could provide the training necessary for employees to stay on top of their job. It also helps employees feel secure in their career.

Bensinger pointed out that unions mean unity — unity between employees, owners, and contractors.

“Employee relations must be transformed from a process of control to one of honesty, cooperation, and trust,” said Bensinger.

Publication date: 11/11/2002

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