Labor and management, along with industry, academic and political dignitaries, will collaborate in Chicago, October 19-21, in a wide-ranging conference aimed at divining the plumbing industry's future, and developing a strategic plan for addressing change. The "Plumbing Industry Working Conference 2000" is being sponsored by the Chicagoland Plumbing Council, an industry fund supported by UA Plumbers Local 130 and its signatory contractors, and the Chicago Labor Education Program of the University of Illinois-Chicago.

UA 130 is one of the nation's largest plumbing unions, numbering nearly 5,000 members who work for more than 400 signatory contractors. Business manager Gerald Sullivan is one of the city's most influential labor leaders, and has gotten commitments from Illinois Gov. George Ryan and Mayor Richard M. Daley to participate as speakers at the conference, as well as other major public officials who had been contacted but not yet committed as of press time.

The major focus of the conference will be 10 one-hour educational sessions that address cutting-edge topics. Speakers and panelists will come from the plumbing industry and academic world, including PM Editorial Director Jim Olsztynski, who will evaluate the consolidation movement in the plumbing industry, and Publisher George Zebrowski, who will serve along with Olsztynski on a panel analyzing the impact of the Internet and other aspects of information technology.

The tentative education program will address the following topics:

    1. Labor-management relations in the past, and how they will be influenced in the future.

    2. Changes in building codes, past and future.

    3. The threat to labor of temporary employment agencies.

    4. Training and recruiting.

    5. The workforce of the future.

    6. Information technology.

    7. Legislation and lobbying.

    8. Current and future economic trends.

    9. The past and future role of unions in the plumbing industry.

    10. Industry consolidation.

"This conference will not just be about listening to a bunch of speakers," commented Sullivan. "Afterward we will organize working committees to devise a strategic plan to address the changes occurring within the plumbing industry. In the past, certain trends have caught us by surprise. We're not going to let that happen again."

Between 300-400 people, mostly contractors, are expected to attend the conference, which will be held on the campus of the University of Illinois-Chicago near downtown Chicago. Registration costs $250 per person and covers all three days of the conference, including meals.

For registration information contact Kathy Kwiatkowski at the University of Illinois-Chicago, 312/996-2623, or For further information about conference content, contact UA Local 130 at 312/421-1010.