MCA Chicago, Local Union Use Education to Combat Wage Drop

March 1, 2008

Mechanical Contractors Association of Chicago (MCA Chicago) and Pipefitters Local Union 597 are using workplace education to buck a trend of declining wages in Illinois.

According to the report, “The State of Working Illinois 2007,” the average Illinois household earns less than it did in 1999, and median household income declined about 10% between 2000 and 2006. The report also suggests that education and union membership can help working families achieve greater savings.

MCA Chicago and local 597 are using unique educational tools to keep their members ahead of any wage decline curves.

To advance the education of union workers, Jim Buchanan, business manager at LU 597, initiated and oversaw the construction of the two-story, 198,000-sq.-ft. pipefitters Local 597 training center in Mokena, IL, which opened in 2005. The center’s interior space features replications of potentially dangerous construction procedures, such as scaffolding and aerial lifts. Under close supervision, apprentices perform work tasks using these replications and gain valuable safety expertise.

Selena Worster, project manager at Mechanical, Inc., Freeport, IL, says  classes offered by MCA Chicago and its parent organization, Mechanical Contractors Association of America, are her primary sources of continuing education.

“Many of their courses are taught by college professors, adding tremendous value to me as an industry professional. The networking aspect is very important as well,” Worster says.
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