UA training trickles into WCC

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By Rebecca Gordon
Staff Writer

The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the U.S. and Canada (UA) held their annual instructor training program on Washtenaw’s Campus earlier in August.

The UA has organized this college level training program for their union instructors at WCC since 1990, and functions out of the Great Lakes Regional Training Center on a smaller scale the rest of the year.

The Instructor Training Program went from Aug. 12 to Aug. 18 and hosted nearly 2,000 union members. Erected for the length of the ITP were the UA Trailers in the parking lot kiddy corner to the Great Lakes Regional Training Center and the Morris Lawrence building. The trailers were a class in themselves for union instructors, and they’re meant for workshops and community events that Unions host. The eight trailers were outfitted to train union members, and to educate the public on what the different trades are capable of.

One trailer specifically focused on what they called “Green Preservation”, and highlighted the strides the people of the UA have made toward water conservation.

As an additional example of the steps the UA is making toward green advancement, the trailer itself was equipped with solar panels and a rainwater harvesting system. The rainwater harvesting system is one of the many demonstrations the instructors were making at the trailer.

This “Sustainable Technologies Demonstration Training” trailer was manned by instructor training students all day long during the week of the UA training program. The afternoon students ranged from early year leaners like Kyle Butler, Local 190 out of Ann Arbor, who is still undergoing his first five years of instruction training, up to Dave Kountz, from Local 210, who has been attending the UA training program at Washtenaw Community College since 2000.

One of the things Kountz and his fellow students Butler and Brad Wendel were showing off were the advances the UA has made in the last ten years toward water conservation.

“It’s all about being green,” said Brad Wendel, Local 776, “We show people what the UA is about.”

Something that non-UA members rarely consider is the difference in the amount of water toilets use versus ten years ago. A decade ago we could expect to use over 3.5 gallons of water nearly every time a toilet flushed, whereas today advances have been made in the effort of conservation to lower that amount to nearly 1.6 gallons of water.

UA Instructor Rick Gale from St. Paul, Minnesota was coordinating the trailers configuration, and was happy to show off some demonstrations to visitors. One of those demonstrations included a SeaSnake plumbing camera and locator. While Gale explained during  his demonstrations the convenience, time and cost saving factors of the locator, the sounds it emitted were reminiscent of the ever famous R2-D2 or the newly loveable BB-8. Those beep-boops were an innocent and cute signal to the end of the demonstration.

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