Our Craft


Commercial and industrial climate control systems - such as freezers and coolers in a supermarket or the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) in a large office building - are technologically advanced machines that require constant calibration and maintenance. Not only is it essential that this equipment keep working, but the high cost of energy requires that they operate as efficiently as possible.

The professionals who service these large refrigeration and climate control systems are the HVAC/R technicians who are specialized members of the pipe trades.

HVAC/R service technicians repair and maintain the refrigeration systems in supermarkets, restaurants and convenience stores, as well as the industrial heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in office buildings, manufacturing facilities, hospitals and other large structure.

They also install and maintain the special climate systems for computer rooms, where a constant cool temperature and humidity control is necessary to keep these sophisticated machines running smoothly.

Most of an HVAC/R technicians work is spent repairing and maintaining systems. They do not install or repair the ducts that circulate the air coming from heating and air conditioning equipment. The systems they work on are becoming more technically involved at a rapid pace. Advanced electrical circuits and state-of-the-art software programs control the systems of pipes, valves, furnaces and mechanical compressors that circulate the liquids and gases used for cooling and heating. For this reason, a growing portion of a technician's time is spent on computers, which control the latest climate control systems.

Electric circuitry and physics also are a routine part of a technician's job. HVAC/R technicians are experts on how an interior climate is affected by external forces. They understand the dynamics of air flow and how it can be used to help systems work more efficiently to conserve energy costs. For instance, vents that open and close according to the outside temperature can reduce the workload on air conditioners.

Using their skilled precision in calibrating the equipment that operate these vent systems, HVAC/R technicians can help an office building, retail store or manufacturer save thousands of dollars per month on it's electric bill.

Ever-evolving technology constantly challenges HVAC and refrigeration technicians to hone their knowledge and skills, but it ensures that they will always be in high demand.

The steamfitter/pipefitters are responsible for all aspects of installing and maintaining pipe systems, pipe supports, and related hydraulic and pneumatic equipment for steam, hot water, heating, cooling, lubricating, and industrial production and processing systems.  Among other things, the job requires extensive training, a knowledge of system operation, and the ability to read and follow blueprints.

A journeyman steamfitter/pipefitter, through his formal training and field experience, has a clear understanding of the theory, installation, and the practical application of steam systems.   This includes the installation of low and high-pressure boilers, boiler piping, steam piping, mechanical condensate systems, water feeders and cutoffs, and water level controllers.

Today's Steamfitter/Pipefitter installs refrigeration systems, process piping and equipment of every description, performs site work, and provides building and industrial maintenance, HVAC services and maintenance, and building automation in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors of the marketplace.

Moreover, the steamfitter/pipefitter is qualified to work in nuclear power plants, perform work on process systems and their appurtenances, as well as, hydronic systems (such as one-pipe, two-pipe, three and four-pipe systems, primary-secondary systems, hot water boilers and their safety devices, panel systems, and solar heating systems.

The ability to assemble industrial piping modules, high pressure piping systems, food grade, and high purity systems is dependent upon the skills and abilities of the welder. The steamfitter/pipefitter apprentice undergoes a thorough and technically advanced welding program.

When completed, Local #636 welders are issued welding certifications that are recognized throughout the United States and Canada, enabling the certified welder to perform x-ray and code welding.

UA Standard for Excellence

The UA Standard for Excellence is our pledge to maintain the highest standards of excellence in all that we do. It ensures that we deliver the very best value by maintaining world-class training programs, working safely, maximizing productivity, improving workplace attitudes, and all of the other elements that set us apart from the rest.


These are not just words on paper; these are principles we believe in. The UA Standard for Excellence represents a labor-management commitment to uphold the highest industry standards in the workplace, with the ultimate goal of ensuring complete customer satisfaction. The program is designed to promote UA members’ world-class skills and safe, efficient work practices on the jobs performed by our signatory contractors and their customers.

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 In order to enforce the Standard of Excellence policy, discharge-for-cause terminations shall be administered in a consistent fashion:

  1. After the 1st discharge for cause the member will meet with the Local Union Business Manager.

  2. After the 2nd discharge for cause within 24 months the member will meet with the Local Union Business manager and the Local’s Executive Board and may be required to visit the Workers Assistance Program for an evaluation and or treatment. A report of action taken shall be distributed to management, through the Joint Labor/management Cooperative Committee.

  3. After the 3rd discharge for cause within 24 months the member will meet with the Enforcement Committee (as described below) who shall review the facts, make a recommendation for action with a maximum penalty of permanent elimination from the out of work list.

  • Ensure that all necessary tools and equipment are readily available to employees

  • Minimize employee downtime by ensuring blueprints, specifications, job layout instructions and material are readily available in a timely manner

  • Provide proper storage for contractor and employee tools

  • Provide the necessary leadership and problem solving skills to jobsite supervision

  • Ensure jobsite leadership takes the necessary ownership of mistakes created by management decision

  • Encourage employees, but if necessary, be fair and consistent with discipline

  • Create and maintain a safe work environment by providing site specific training, proper equipment and follow occupational health and safety guidelines

  • Employ an adequate number of properly trained employees to efficiently perform the work in a safe manner, while limiting the number of employees o the work at hand, thereby providing the customer with a key performance indicator of the value of the Standard for Excellence

  • Treat all employees in a respectful and dignified manner, acknowledging their contributions to a successful project

  • Cooperate and communicate with the job steward

  • In the event an issue is irresolvable at this level, the union or the employer may call for a contractually established labor management meeting to resolve the issues

  • Weekly job progress meetings should be conducted with UA supervision and management

  • The union or the employer may involve the customer when their input is prudent in finding a solution

  • Under the Standard for Excellence it is understood that members through the local union, and management through the signatory contractors, have duties and are accountable in achieving successful resolutions

An Enforcement Committee is hereby established which shall be comprised of three individuals including: One member appointed by Local 636, one contractor member appointed by the MCA and a member of the public who shall be a neutral third party selected by mutual agreement of Local 636 and MCA.

Either party can request the removal of the neutral third party. The Enforcement Committee shall have the power to make a final and binding decision on any matter referred to it which shall be complied with by the members, the Local Union, Signatory Employers and the MCA.


Any infraction of the Standard for Excellence policy shall be removed from the member’s work history after two years, without an additional infraction (excluding apprentices).

Apprentice compliance to the Standard of Excellence shall be administered exclusively by the JATC.

If a member is aggravated by any action taken under this Standard of Excellence policy and his/her complaint cannot be resolved, the complaint may, if the member or the Union requests be referred as a grievance under the grievance and arbitration provisions of the collective bargaining agreement. In the event matter is referred to arbitration, the provision of this Policy shall bind the arbitrator to disciplinary action set forth in this Standard of Excellence.

Employers not complying with their responsibilities under the Standard for Excellence policy shall be administered in a consistent fashion.

  • 1st  Non-compliance the employer will meet with the Detroit MCA Director

  • 2nd  Non-compliance within 24 months, the employer will meet with the Detroit MCA Director and the MCA Executive Board.

  • 3rd Non-compliance within 24 months the employer will meet with the Enforcement Committee (as described above) with the maximum penalty of not being able to utilize the policy in their company marketing, advertise to customers their compliance in the policy or participate in the administration of the policy.

  • The union and the steward will work with members to correct and solve problems related to job performance

  • The business manager or his delegate will conduct regularly scheduled meetings to discuss and resolve issues affecting compliance of the Standard for Excellence policy

  • The steward and management will attempt to correct such problems with individual members in the workplace

  • Individual members not complying with membership responsibility shall be brought before the Local Union Executive Board. The local union’s role is to use all available means to correct the compliance problem including imposing fines or suspension from the out of work list for a designated period of time

To ensure the Standard for Excellence platform meets and maintains its goals, the Local Union Business manager, in partnership with his implementation team, including shop stewards and the local membership, shall ensure all members:

  • Meet their responsibilities to the employer and their fellow workers by arriving on the job ready to work, every day on time (Absenteeism and tardiness will not be tolerated.)

  • Adhere to the contractual starting and quitting times, including lunch and break periods.

  • Meet their responsibility as highly skilled craft workers by providing the required tools as stipulated under the local Collective Bargaining agreement while respecting those tools and equipment supplied by the employer.

  • Use and promote the Local and International Training and certification systems to the membership so they may continue on the road of lifelong learning, thus ensuring our members are the most highly trained and sought after tradesmen.

  • Meet their responsibility to be fit for duty, ensuring a policy of zero tolerance for substance abuse is strictly met

  • Be productive and keep inactive time to a minimum

  • Respect the Union, the Customer and Employer, by dressing in a manner appropriate for our highly skilled and professional craft (offensive words and art work are not acceptable)

  • Respect and obey employer and customer rules, policies, procedures and properties (cell phone to be used at designated times and locations)

  • Follow safe, reasonable and legitimate management directives

Our History

Click program cover below to read PDF


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