About the United Association
The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States, Canada and Australia (UA), affiliated with the national building trades, represents approximately 370,000 plumbers, pipe fitters, sprinkler fitters and service technicians in North America and Australia. The “UA”, as it is commonly known is a multi-craft union whose members are engaged in the fabrication, installation and servicing of piping systems.
The United Association has been training qualified pipe tradesmen longer than anyone else in the industry. The UA boasts the premier training programs available in the industry today, including five-year apprenticeship programs, extensive journeyman training organized instructor training, and certification programs.
Two Nations, One Union
The bonds of brotherhood recognize no political or geographic boundaries when it comes to United Association membership. Ours is truly an international organization with more than 50,000 UA brothers and sisters located in Canada. Working with the same pride and determination as their fellow members in the U.S., our Canadian brothers and sisters continue to demonstrate the high degree of quality craftmanship necessary to construct the homes, schools, office buildings, refineries, power plants and industrial facilities necessary to a strong and vibrant national economy. At the same time, our fellow members north of the border play an important role in helping to maintain and promote United Association solidarity as we join together to reap the benefits of unionism and pride in our united cause.
How Many Locals and Members Are In The United Association?
Currently there are over 300 local unions in the United Association, in excess of 370,000 members.
The local unions are located in all of the 50 states of America and every province of Canada. Members are free to travel from one local area to another to satisfy the needs of local work conditions.
Founded in 1889, the United Association is one of the most respected and influential building trades unions in the U.S.and Canada today. It serves as a collective voice for workers through negotiation and collective bargaining with employing contractor groups, such as the Mechanical Contractors Association of America, and the National Association of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors. The UA is also a key member of the Building and Construction Trades Department, the AFL-CIO, and the Canadian Federation of Labour.
United Association History
The birth of the United Association dates back to the year 1889, when a Boston plumber named P. J. Quinlan addressed a brief letter to Richard A. O’Brien, a plumber in Washington, D.C. “Dear Sir and Brother,” the letter began, “I take the liberty of addressing a few lines to you to obtain your views as regards the formation of a United Brotherhood…”
The author of the letter would become the first General President and its recipient the first General Secretary-Treasurer of the United Association.
Prior to 1889, plumbers, steamfitters and gas fitters who were organized were members of independent local unions with either no affiliation, or affiliation with a variety of trades.
By 1889, however, with existing organizations declining or becoming devoted to only one craft, local union leaders began to consider other ways to unite national pipe trades journeymen to deal with mutual problems, including how to treat traveling members, build apprenticeship, and provide strike aid.
In response to these issues, the United Association was officially born on October 11, 1889. The original name of the organization was the United Association of Journeymen Plumbers, Gas Fitters, Steam Fitters and Steam Fitters’ Helpers of the United States and Canada.
A New Millennium Of Pride Through Excellence
In 1989, the UA proudly celebrated its 100th anniversary. As we move into the new century, the UA remains a strong, vital organization comprised of thousands of highly skilled men and women who have joined together for a common purpose. Today’s UA members use their skills in commercial, industrial and residential arenas. Among the many projects on which UA members can be found are single-family homes, garden and high-rise apartment buildings, large and small office complexes, power plants, refineries and factories.
The pipe trades industry provides water supply, waste and sewage services, water treatment and sewage treatment systems. In addition, the UA’s jurisdiction includes heating, air conditioning and refrigeration systems, along with automatic-sprinkler and fire-protection systems.
To ensure that there remains a steady supply of tradesmen skilled enough to meet the challenges of today’s diverse and expanding construction industry, the UA has shaped a superb training program. In fact, the UA’s commitment to training is unsurpassed among trade unions worldwide. The journeymen produced by this training program over the years are the backbone of the United Association.
From humble beginnings of 40 delegates representing 23 independent unions in 10 states and the District of Columbia, the United Association has grown to a powerful, international union representing over 300,000 members in more than 300 local unions throughout the United States and Canada.
The UA has been at the forefront of the fight for worker’s rights for over 100 years. Now, as we move into a new millennium we are faced with many new and imposing obstacles. To prepare our membership for the rapid advancements in technology and the way business is conducted, the UA has developed one of the most extensive training programs of any union in the world, spending more than $1 million dollars a week ensuring that our members are prepared for the future.