Dues virtually revert to pre-1998 rate

The Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors - National Association changed its dues structure again and established an Internet-only membership option at its last convention of the century.

In a series of business meetings that spanned three days in October, 264 registered members voted to set dues at $375, and dismiss the organization's connection to the U.S. government's Cost of Living Increase. An amendment to raise the figure to $475 was also dismissed. Of the six resolutions concerning dues structure, five were withdrawn and only one was voted on.

The new dues structure virtually reverts to the amount charged for PHCC-NA prior to the 1998 convention in Toronto, when it was determined the association couldn't support its activities.

President Fran Williams warned the assembly that the PHCC-NA "cannot move forward without funding," and said that the group was "seriously under-funding" the association.

Gene Burch of California urged the group to regain "a value for the dollar." And a member from Texas agreed that the organization had argued enough. "Dues is not the question, 15 years ago it was the same argument. Our obligation is to tell [the national board] what we want."

The newly-adopted Internet-only membership option did not get passed easily. The amount of discussion on this resolution sparked heated after-hour caucuses between zones, resulted in an unscheduled third business meeting. According to the resolution, for $100 the Internet member is given a member code and access to the PHCC-NA Web site. This member is also granted use of the PHCC-NA trademarked logo.

This option is open to new members only (or to members who have not been active for 12 months or more) for up to 36 months. They will not be able to vote at annual business meetings and must maintain an affiliation through a local, state and national level.

The association has seen a startling drop in membership. Nearly 1,800 PHCC-NA members have not renewed since Jan. 1, leaving the organization with only 3,753 members - 32 percent less than last year. This new member option was intended to attract and keep new members, and perhaps regain lost members.

Changes Ahead? Two resolutions were voted against concerning membership. The "Freedom of Choice" resolution would have allowed PHCC members to refuse membership at the national level, which is currently against organization policy. Many members spoke at length about the importance of the survival of the three-tiered federation, and agreed that membership at all levels was required.

H.J. "Rick" Rickenbach of Florida said, "Optional membership is not membership. Change for the sake of change doesn't make sense."

While there are states that have allowed members to drop out of the national group, PHCC-NA is looking to unify members and stop any state secession. In other convention news, management consultant Pat Lynch spoke to the assembly in a presentation titled "HyperChange! Winning at Warp Speed." Lynch showed the assembly that change can equal opportunity, but they need to "break out of the box" and let in new ideas. His impact on the assembly was obvious, as many members quoted Lynch's presentation throughout the convention.

The extended hours of the business meeting ran into and even canceled a few of the convention's seminars offered to the 489 registered members, resulting in poor attendance at many. Jim Olsztynski's "Thanks for the Tip" session gave members a chance to win "free money" for contributing a tip to the industry.

Another popular program was a roundtables, with topics such as improving the industry's image and employee benefits and incentives.

David Krecek talked about predictive indexes and employee profiling techniques at his seminar on hiring. A seminar on backflow cross connection control was headed by Chuck Vaughn, who gave suggestions on how to establish state regulation programs. Tom Grady

put on two sessions about how to develop profitable labor prices.

At the In-Sink-Erator Awards Luncheon, the 1999 Robert Cox Humanitarian Award went to the PHC Contractors Metro Phoenix Auxiliary. The Member of the Year Award was given to Janice A. Reindl of Wisconsin.

The next convention will be held in conjunction with the NEX show Oct. 3-7 in Chicago.