UA and TEEU of Ireland Sign Historic Global Federation Agreement at the Irish Embassy

1.27.15

In its continuing expansion as a global presence, the United Association of Union Plumbers, Pipefitters, Sprinklerfitters, Welders and HVAC Technicians (UA) has signed an affiliation agreement with the organization’s counterpart in Ireland, the Technical, Engineering Electrical Union (TEEU) at the Irish Embassy in Washington, DC. Special guests included Irish Ambassador Anne Anderson, Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, TEEU General Secretary Eamon Devoy, and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

“I am delighted to host here at the Embassy of Ireland in Washington D.C. the signing of a landmark global federation agreement between two strong unions straddling the Atlantic Ocean. This federation promises to deliver considerable benefits for the members of both unions, especially in terms of expanding training and future employment opportunities for the members of both organisations,” said Irish Ambassador Anne Anderson.

The Federation agreement will enable the UA and TEEU to expand organizing efforts and share training and technology across borders. Among the objectives of the agreement are enhancing the skills of members, ensuring strong occupational safety and health programs and expanding job opportunities. In 2012, the UA signed a similar affiliation agreement with the Plumbing Trades Employees Union (PTEU) of Australia, which was established in 1912.  The TEEU has been in existence since 1920 and was formed as part of Ireland’s independence from Britain. In Canada, the piping trades have been part of the UA since its earliest beginnings in 1889.

“This agreement reflects our common goals of training our members to the highest standards and expanding job opportunities for our members across the globe. This agreement will strengthen our unions on a global basis to advance our industry and ensure that our workforce continues to meet the demands of the 21st century economy,” said UA General President William P. Hite.

“The UA and TEEU Federation brings an entirely new international perspective to the work of both of our unions,” said Eamon Devoy, General Secretary of the TEEU. “In the ever increasing globalisation of business, there is a need for unions in the engineering sector to work more closely together in a number of respects. This includes global organising of workers to ensure that proper employment standards are developed and maintained. It also includes the imperative that engineering workers are suitably trained and re-trained to meet the changing technologies crucial to the needs of successful business.”

Secretary of Labor Tom Perez addressed attendees and spoke about the need for cooperation across the globe.

"The bond between America and Ireland is unbreakable. We understand the legacy of struggle of workers in both Ireland and the U.S. Both nations have the wind at our backs, and it is an honor always to be in your presence," said Secretary Perez.

"This agreement will lead to shared learning and that is indeed important in a global economy. As we grow, it’s important to grow together. This agreement is a model of what we can accomplish and what we need to take elsewhere. I also want to talk about the critical role apprenticeship plays in ensuring an economy that benefits everyone. I refer to apprenticeship as the other college, the one without debt. The strength of labor is found in its strength and unity. The strength of America is found in our strength and unity. Everyone who works hard and plays by the rules should have the same prosperity. In this, you are leading the way."

For AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka, the affiliation is about strengthening solidarity across the labor movement:

"Corporations are global—but so is our solidarity. At the end of the day, we are all working people. This new agreement strengthens working people and is a step in the right direction. What we want is as old as the beauty of Ireland—safety, to live decently and with dignity, retire in security, and pass on a decent life to our children. To our brothers and sisters in Ireland, we say as long as one of them stands, they’ll never stand alone."

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