By Anna Guy
Since 1898, Local 144 has represented highly skilled and industrious men and women in the pipefitting and pipe welding industry. In Quebec, Local 144 is an affiliate of the United Association—the Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders, and Service Technicians—which represents 340,000 workers across local North American unions. Of that, Local 144 proudly represents 8,000 plumbers, pipe welders and pipefitters in the Montreal region.
“Our members work in every sector of the construction industry,” says Business Manager, Sylvain Morissette. “They represent vital components of the industrial, commercial, residential, and institutional sectors and play a very important role in the back bone of Quebec society.”
New Training Facility
In order to provide the best opportunities for its members, Local 144 works ardently to ensure the highest standards of qualifications and training in its industries so that its members have the skills and knowledge required to stay top-of-class. To illustrate its commitment to recruiting and training world-class piping professionals, Local 144 is opening a new, 33,000-square-foot training facility in East Montreal.
“We decided to open the training centre so that we could be in full control of the quality of the training offered, and to be able to organize specific training in partnership with the contractors and the owners,” says Assistant Business Manager, Daniel Coursol. “We also wanted to make sure that we have the newest technology on the market so our members can remain competitive and highly-skilled.”
Local 144 does not feel the same shortage of apprentices other trades do, according to Morissette. He says an average of 500 students graduate from trade schools every year in Quebec, and many are interested in pipe fitting and pipe welding. The number of women in the union is also growing—it’s currently at about 3 per cent.
“We visit every trade school in the province and talk to the students about local 144,” says Morissette. “Right now, we represent 90 per cent of plumbers and pipe fitters and 99 per cent of pipe welders. They know our history and that Local 144 is a pioneering group in our industry and that is why our representation numbers are as high as they are here. We offer a good service, and we ensure our members are always very well represented.”
Local 144 thinks outside its own walls, and conscientiously operates in a way that is beneficial to both workers and business owners and contractors. “We always try to organize our way of doing business to improve the work of our members and to get owners to want to invest their money in Quebec,” says Morissette. “This is a benefit to all industries.”
The men and women of Local 144 are also proud community members whose actions speak louder than words. In Spring, 2017, dozens if not hundreds of homes in Quebec were damaged from some of the worst flash flooding in decades. Local 144 members pulled up their sleeves and quietly helped their neighbours: 500 members in total spend two weeks volunteering.
Thanks to the generosity of its members, over $ 100,000 was raised for the JDRF (Junior Diabetes Research Foundation) in 2018, and Local 144 has recently named The Breakfast Club another charity they will support.
“Our members work hard and are very generous,” says Coursol. “That passion runs throughout their work, and we are very proud to represent the best in the business.”