LONGBOAT KEY, Fla. - Finding and training skilled workers to help address the industry's labor shortage is a top priority for the United Association (UA), UA General President Bill Hite told members of the Union-Affiliated Contractors (UAC) at UAC's recent Unity Meeting here.

Hite said the UA locals will be increasing the number of apprentice classes, and will be "thinking outside the box" to recruit people with special skills, such as welding, as soon as possible. The UA also is reaching out to various welding schools and has started its own intense welder qualifications to fill demand. In addition, the UA will give the apprentices OSHA training and workplace awareness classes to get them ready for the workforce. "We are determined not to be caught off guard and fail to have people who possess the skills necessary to get the job done," he said.

Hite also discussed the UA's other activities with UAC. Those include:

  • Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, including raising $1.2 million in UA member donations to aid affected members.

  • A focus on legislation that benefits UA members, including the energy bill, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), asbestos legislation, multi-employer pension bailout, and a fire sprinkler bill.

  • A banking initiative to bring UA members' jobs building banks all over the country.

  • Offering the UA Standard of Excellence, a policy that is a labor-management commitment to uphold the highest industry standard in the workplace and ensure customer satisfaction.

  • Increasing the UA market-share through initiatives to gain union construction jobs in several areas of the country.

    Hite's remarks were followed by UA Representative Gary Hamilton, who discussed UA national agreements, and how contractors can get involved in them.

    Also, Kirk Alter, with Purdue University and Fast Management Inc., led sessions on "What's the Bottom Line?" and "Getting Past No." Attorney James Estabrook facilitated a roundtable on "Fiduciary Responsibilities and Duties of a Trustee." Dr. Larry Whitworth conducted a seminar on "Building Supervisory Skills Through Distance Learning."

    The UAC also elected a new chairman and trustees during the meeting. They are:

  • Tom Gent, GRP Mechanical Co. Inc, Bethalto, Ill., chairman

  • Robert Melko, Bishop Plumbing & Heating, Des Plaines, Ill., vice chair

  • John Bee, John J. Bee Co., Philadelphia, trustee

  • Buddy Parkes, Parkes Mechanical & Metals Inc., Muscle Shoals, Ala., trustee

  • Anthony D'Ascenzo, Guardian Plumbing & Heating Inc., Livonia, Mich., trustee

  • Richard Lisle, Mechanical Contractors Association of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas, trustee

    The UAC is an enhanced service group of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors-National Association. For more information, visit www.uac-contractors.org.

    Publication date: 03/13/2006