MCAA President Armand Kilijian Addressed the UA Convention

August 27, 2021

MCAA President Armand Kilijian had the honor of addressing the United Association (UA)’s 40th General Convention this week is San Diego. Armand was greeted by fully vaccinated delegates and a standing ovation as he highlighted the importance of the UA and MCAA relationship, saying “We could not be as successful as individual contractors without our UA labor partners… and trust me when I say that each of us knows that.” 

His remarks are reprinted here for the benefit of those who missed the convention. 

It is wonderful to be here in San Diego and especially an honor to join the United Association this week. 

My name is Armand Kilijian, and I am the President of the Mechanical Contractors Association of America.  

What a great Convention this has been so far – Congratulations to Mark McManus, Pat Kellett, Mike Pleasant, and the entire team for putting together a fantastic week. 

And to General President McManus, congratulations on your uncontested re-election! 

I started my career some 30 plus years ago at Johnson Controls. I was then fortunate to land a job with O’Brien Mechanical in San Francisco, a full-service plumbing, piping, and HVAC contractor. I have been there for 23 years. 

I have to say that through that journey I have learned quite a lot about what the United Association stands for. I learned about pneumatic piping, boilers, chillers, cooling towers and pumps, refrigerant piping, steam and water piping, waste and vent piping, sprinkler piping, and everything else that goes with what you all represent. But I also learned about the pride that you all have in the work that you perform. The pride of the skilled workers and markets that you all represent. The pride of building the infrastructure that enables this country to remain as great as it is. 

In the Bay Area where I am from, we are privileged to have several UA locals that encompass the area. UA Locals 467, 342, 159, 447, 393, and that’s just encompasses the coverage 50 miles from my office. 

My home local is UA Local 38. Under the leadership of Business Manager Larry Mazzola Jr, and through all of their business agents, organizers, and officers, I have had the pleasure of seeing first-hand what they do on a daily basis to keep their plumbers and pipefitters organized, trained, and ready for work, how they work with the local, state, and national government agencies and representatives to keep projects union, and how they work with the MCAA contractors to get the work, and keep the city alive with construction. For that I thank you for the hard work that you all do daily in your local areas. 

I just have to say how nice it is to be here in person with all of you. After the year and a half we’ve all had, on behalf of the MCAA, I also want to thank all our partners at the UA.  

Thank you for your vision and leadership every day, but especially through one of the toughest times we’ve experienced as an industry.  

It is because of the United Association’s 360,000 members getting up every day and performing jobs in tough circumstances, that we, and millions of Americans can continue with our daily lives. What you all did, continuing to work through a global health crisis, was important—and remarkable. We’ve said it many times before, and I want to emphasize this: We have the best trained work force, working on the front lines every day, as essential employees—and you kept this economy going. I, personally, thank you for that.  

Our industry did not skip a beat. You are as your theme for this convention states “Built of Excellence – Always Essential” 

We talk a lot about family—and how the UA and MCAA work so closely together. And this past year and a half, we have relied on that relationship—we have strengthened our partnership. And we are all stronger for it.  

Through open dialogue and in complete solidarity, labor and management worked together to solve unprecedented challenges like never before. And I am extremely proud of that. The value of unionized construction is now on full display. 

This partnership is crucial to MCAA. With your skills and dedication, we are able to meet our customers increasingly demanding needs and propel our businesses forward.  

We could not be as successful as individual contractors without our UA labor partners… and trust me when I say that each of us knows that. 

I’ve always valued this Convention because it’s a great opportunity for MCAA to hear about your issues… to better understand your challenges… so that we can strengthen both our organizations.  

Together, we are focused on several initiatives to address those challenges and advance the industry.  

For years, the UA and MCAA have worked in concert to make sure your voices are heard on Capitol Hill. We have faced key challenges head on to protect your livelihood and set the stage for an even brighter future.  

As you all know, the pace of change is increasing exponentially. If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated it. That’s why we’re working together to keep UA and MCAA members ahead of the curve. You’ve trained to use new technologies as MCAA member companies continue to modernize at an astonishing rate. By exploring new technology and adopting what works best, we are now running safer, more productive jobsites.  

We are working together to find new avenues to increase market share. Local MCA Chapters along with the UA Locals in the area are meeting regularly to open up new doors of opportunity – benefitting everyone involved. 

We are coordinating new jointly developed programs to train field leaders with what it takes to take on projects in this new day and age. These programs aren’t just for the established journeymen and foremen, but also for apprentices wanting to lead their brothers and sisters one day in the field. 

We are establishing joint national marketing strategies in order to increase the UA membership numbers across Canada and the United States. The future of the UA strength is in your membership. The future success of the MCAA Contractors is with the UA.  

We’re looking forward to the continued return of our in-person meetings. That is where the partnership really takes root. We need to be together, to shake hands and give each other a hug, to remind ourselves that is the people that make our industry great.  

These past 17 months have tested our industry, our partnership, and each of us individually. It’s been tough, but I am thrilled to say we are in a great place. And there are so many opportunities on the horizon when we continue to innovate and work together. There truly is no challenge that the UA/MCAA cannot face and overcome together. 

“Built on Excellence – Always Essential” 

Let’s make the next five years the best that we can. I appreciate your time today and value your partnership. Thank you. 

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