TORONTO, ON, Canada — A linchpin of the unionized service sector of the hvacr industry is the National Service & Maintenance Agreement between the Mechani-cal Service Contractors of America (MSCA) and the United Association (UA). A new version of that accord was reviewed at the 15th-annual MSCA convention here.

“Our excellent working relationship with our UA partners and our common goal of growing the industry facilitated the negotiation process, resulting in an excellent agreement for both mechanical service contractors and the local UA unions,” said Stanley H. Berger, chairman, MSCA board of managers. “It focuses on the unique needs of the service industry.”

The agreement forms a framework for individual contractors and local UA jurisdictions to plug the national accord into specific localized situations. The new agreement takes effect Jan. 1, 2001, and runs through Aug. 1, 2005, with the current accord extending to Dec. 31, 2000.

The new agreement was rewritten and reorganized to “enhance understanding and clarify,” according to its founding fathers. “The agreement succinctly defines the scope of service operations.”

Among areas of attention:

  • Employee classifications to cover a range of service work;
  • “Enhanced portability” for technicians to be able to travel outside their local jurisdiction for a service job;
  • An increased ratio for the number of apprentices allowed per service tech, in an effort “to address the [industry] manpower shortage”; and
  • A revised section addressing the needs of supermarket refrigeration and ammonia installation.
  • The no-strike, no-lockout policy was also said to have been clarified.

    MSCA has been hosting 4-hr regional seminars for a detailed review of the accord. Remaining seminars will be held Nov. 15 in Kansas City, KS; Nov. 30 in Los Angeles, CA; and Dec. 14 in Miami, FL.

    Labor Shortage

    In additional remarks to attendees at the Toronto conference, Berger said the biggest challenge facing the industry is “finding the manpower to sustain our workforce.

    “We must do a better job in portraying our trade to young people and touting the many benefits of entering our field. It’s a high-tech, challenging field of work with excellent benefits and can be extremely lucrative.”

    He added, “Of course, we all know this. But we must be sure the rest of the world does.”

    Among other items reported at the conference:

  • Development of a customer service training series providing leaders wtih guides and workbooks for use at weekly and monthly meetings; “Good customer service is the key to success,” said Berger. “This program provides everything you need to implement a customer service training program in your company.”

    He said the program might also be used as part of service apprentice training programs through the UA training schools.

  • Recent model safety programs geared specifically for mechanical contractors dealing with such topics as confined-space entry and lockout/tagout procedures, among others; and
  • A pocket-sized technical data and safety guide for technicians.
  • Said Berger, “The programs and publications we developed are the ones you told us you need and the ones that can best help you succeed.”

    Publication date: 11/06/2000