With the beginning of a new spring, I am pleased to announce the Sheet Metal Workers’ National Pension Fund (NPF) has been certified in the Green Zone after years of sacrifice and hard work on the part of NPF participants, local unions and employers. This is welcome news and has been a long time coming, but there is more work to be done to protect our retirement security. Additional information can be found at www.smwnpf.org.

There will be market corrections over time, and current events are impacting the investment market. The war in Ukraine and necessary sanctions on Russian aggression are going to have some effect back home. Anti-inflationary measures enacted and due to come from the Federal Reserve will also affect the market. We must continue to remain vigilant when it comes to the management of our funds and our members’ benefits.

We do not expect the NPF to flip back to Yellow from Green. If, for example, 2022 continues to be a challenging year for investments, and the NPF realizes an investment loss to the extent that it drops our funding level below the Green Zone threshold of 80%, we will not fall into the Yellow Zone. As long as the fund is projected to return to above 80% funding within a reasonable period of time, it will continue to be certified in the Green Zone.

Alongside this important milestone, we have seen even more progress in Washington, D.C., as we are working successfully with an administration that has been in lockstep with this union and member needs.

Last month, with the stroke of a pen, President Biden injected a massive boost into our industry by requiring the use of Project Labor Agreements for federally funded projects above $35 million.

Last month, with the stroke of a pen, President Biden injected a massive boost into our industry by requiring the use of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) for federally funded projects above $35 million. These agreements will allow the nation to rebuild and stimulate an influx of new union jobs. The administration also announced improvements to Davis-Bacon surveys to better protect area prevailing wages. This includes a proposal to extend coverage to construction of modules in off-site permanent plants on secondary construction site(s) so long as the portion or modules are significant and constructed for the specific use of the project.

Our sisters and brothers in Canada have embarked on a grassroots-style letter writing and social media campaign, along with other platforms, for a Skilled Trades Workforce Mobility Tax Deduction: engaging the federal government to follow through on its election and mandate letter commitment implementing tax fairness for construction workers. Their collective action now will prepare SMART and the Canadian Building Trade Unions (CBTU) for this and other important topics at their upcoming Legislative Conference scheduled this April in Ottawa.

At the same time, we still have challenges that we continue to face. The Hi-Viz policy recently enacted by BNSF is a slap in the face to the very railroaders who not only kept America’s supply chain moving during the pandemic, but also helped BNSF realize the greatest profits in company history. Their legal mechanizations included filing their lawsuit where they knew an anti-labor, pro-management judge would hear the case and render them a favorable decision. These maneuvers will not go unchallenged, and we will continue to fight back against this draconian, anti-worker policy. It is wrong headed, anti-American, and it belongs in a past “gilded age” we left over a century ago. I urge every member across this union to contact their congressional legislators by texting the words NOHiVIZ to 67336; tell Congress to get involved and take the side of our brothers and sisters working at BNSF.

While we will still face temporary setbacks and adversity, we have overcome much greater in the past – and by coming together to fight for each other and for working people across North America, we will do so again. I have no doubt that, together, our union will only grow stronger.

Please stay safe.

Fraternally and in unity,

SMART General President Joseph Sellers, Jr.

As General President Sellers announced, years of hard work and sacrifices made by National Pension Fund participants, locals and employers have paid off.

In addition to this, the Biden Administration announced the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge in late March. This challenge is a call to action and a set of best practices to assist building owners with reducing risks from airborne viruses and other contaminants.

The Clean Air in Buildings Challenge relies on significant input from SMART and our experts at the National Energy Management Institute (NEMI), who assisted in devising its goals and objectives.

The challenge includes the creation of a clean indoor air action plan, practices for optimizing fresh air ventilation, the enhancement of air filtration and cleaning, and community engagement around the importance of enhanced air ventilation to ensure this issue — and its solution — is prioritized by leaders in the public and private sectors. This ensures the expanded contribution of our signatory contractors employing SMART sheet metal workers to lead this challenge.

As the Biden Administration rolls out the historic bipartisan infrastructure bill, modernizing the prevailing wages attached to these projects will ensure fair wages and protect workers employed in the sheet metal industry.

In early March, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that it was updating its Davis-Bacon rules, which affect members employed in the construction industry — especially those working for employers who compete on publicly funded projects. This is the first time in 40 years the Department of Labor has performed a comprehensive review of these regulations, and it couldn’t come at a better time. As the Biden Administration rolls out the historic bipartisan infrastructure bill, modernizing the prevailing wages attached to these projects will ensure fair wages and protect workers employed in the sheet metal industry. Structural changes to the administration of these new projects are what will make the difference in guaranteeing that not only are they built on time and under budget, but also that unscrupulous employers do not undermine the wages and standards SMART and our signatory employers have spent decades creating.

As you will find within this issue of the Members’ Journal, SMART has also updated our union’s website at www.smart-union.org. The website is all-inclusive and interactive, with landing pages for content and material found nowhere else online — such as an updated Resources section for sheet metal workers, TD material and forms, Canadian resources, an easier-to-use Sheet Metal Job Bank, membership information only available to you, links to fund material, dozens of resource libraries and more. Member information is accessed via a Member Portal and customized to each individual member’s needs and experience. Visit the website at www.smart-union.org and click on the Member Portal to create an account. Instructions for SM and TD members are linked through the QR Code below.

Brothers and sisters, we live in exciting times — we are taking advantage of new technologies to update our services to you. Make sure you continue to revisit the Member Portal, as we will update information there with breaking news and the latest resources.

Fraternally,

Joseph Powell

SMART General Secretary Treasurer

Dear brothers and sisters:

Transit Driver Appreciation Day was March 18, and I would like to extend my personal thank you to each and every member who works in this often undervalued and important industry. It is because of you, even during a pandemic, that people around the country are able to get safely from point A to B. You are true professionals and the best of the best and I greatly appreciate everything that you do.

Our Bus & Transit Department officers have been working hard and our members are seeing the fruits of their labors. Members who work for New Jersey Transit ratified a new contract Oct. 21, 2021, gaining them well-deserved raises of 12% over the course of the four-year agreement retroactive to 2020, no increases in medical benefit costs, bereavement leave for step-parents, and Juneteenth as a paid holiday. NJT retirees and spouses also benefit from this agreement as well — they will no longer be required to contribute monthly premiums for their healthcare. The retroactive raises have already been paid out, and I’m proud to say that there were no concessions to the carrier. This contract 100% benefits our NJT membership. A special thanks goes out to General Chairperson Jerome Johnson and his negotiating team for this excellent agreement.

Pacific Coast Sightseeing Tours & Charters Inc. — a sister company of Coach USA — operators, mechanics, ticket agents and washer/cleaners in California (Local 1590) held their very first meeting this year and we have another new bus local that just came on board in Kansas City, Mo., (Local 1706). The local consists of 200 new members who work for Student Transportation of America (STA) as school bus operators, aides and monitors for the Kansas City school district. To these new members, I say welcome, and please let us know if you need anything as we are always available to assist.

Meanwhile, our National Legislative Department has been working relentlessly to get legislators to pass regulations beneficial to our members. The new Bipartisan Infrastructure Law delivers on that, providing important changes that give our bus and transit workers greater protection. As a result, bus and transit carriers, both large and small, are now required to work with labor to create Agency Safety Plans (ASP), giving us an equal seat at the table with management. These requirements must include a risk-reduction program to improve safety by reducing the number of accidents, injuries and assaults on transit workers. Safety teams will need to be established and recommendations made by Dec 31. However, transit companies and municipalities are pushing back because they say it is not enough time.

Our National Legislative Department has been working relentlessly to get legislators to pass regulations beneficial to our members. The new Bipartisan Infrastructure Law delivers on that, providing important changes that give our bus and transit workers greater protection.

I was in attendance and heard firsthand when FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez, along with her Chief of Safety Joe Delorenzo, stated that extensions have already been made and this is a hard date. Administrator Fernandez was adamant that we have to have a “minimum level of safety as operators” and that is her top priority. Another initiative includes law enforcement interaction requirements at bus stops/stations, along the routes and on the equipment itself. Administrator Fernandez stated she wants to keep the line of communication open with our organization as “too many assaults go unreported” and this needs to change.

At the state level, Bus Vice President Calvin Studivant and New Jersey State Legislative Director Ron Sabol worked with N.J. Assemblyman Daniel Benson and were victorious in getting the N.J. Legislature to pass the Motorbus and Passenger Rail Service Employee Violence Prevention Act, upgrading the penalty for operator assaults. Assemblyman Benson attended the monthly state legislative directors’ Zoom call in January and provided valuable guidance on how he was successful in getting the new law passed. With his indispensable advice, we have high hopes that this success will lead to similar and much-needed legislation in other states.

With the mention of transit and bus operator assaults, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my sadness and heartbreak at the loss of member and Charlotte Area Transit bus operator Ethan Rivera, who was killed in the line of duty by a motorist filled with road rage. I am appalled and devastated as this should not have happened and likely could have been prevented with a simple bulletproof barrier and proper de-escalation training.

In February, we had a member employed by Chicago Metra attacked and robbed at gunpoint while on duty. Fortunately, that member survived his ordeal. Sadly, there are many more similar incidents that we could point to that have placed our transit brothers and sisters in harm’s way. All of which bring to light that, even though we have recently experienced some successes legislatively, more must be done.

Due to several uncontrollable factors, transit riders have taken their frustrations out on our brother and sister operators, and assaults have been at an all-time high. This is unacceptable to me and to my administration. Until every member is safe at work, whether it be from irate passengers, switching accidents, derailments or other tragedies, our work is not done. As I told our National Safety Team at their training workshop in Cleveland on March 8, safety is my passion. I am committed to making sure that ALL of our members get home safely. No one should ever fear for their safety or die at work. We all deserve — and our families deserve — for us to come home safely! Anything less is simply unacceptable.

On a lighter note, SMART-TD continues to look for ways and means to improve everything we do, from our communications, new website, app and training format, and more importantly, our finances. My administration has installed and utilized many cost-saving measures and that led me to opt out of the dues increase slated for earlier this year. Thankfully, the Board of Directors agreed with my assessment and therefore approved my request to petition the GEC to support waiving the increase, as provided by the SMART Constitution.

Further, I am excited to announce that the SMART-TD headquarters will be moving from its current location this spring to Independence, Ohio. This cost-effective measure will save the union a very conservative estimation of $2 million over 10 years. Please be patient, as this move will not come without some complexities. While a move of this magnitude is never an easy task, we feel it is a necessary one, especially when you factor in the tremendous savings it will provide.

Lastly, as we continue to face adversity from the public, the carriers, the internet and from within, it is important that we remain strong and united. No matter what craft you’re in, no matter what property you’re on, we have the knowledge, the skills and the backbone to fight whatever may come our way. Everyone must remember that you never share your agenda or playbook publicly, and you must have faith that those of us leading the charge have your back. We did not get here by happenstance; we were elected because of our experience and knowledge. To place your misguided frustrations onto those who are doing all they can on your behalf is not only erroneous, but counterproductive. We haven’t backed down from anything, nor do we intend to. Let’s turn that negative energy against those that have created these issues, as united we can achieve so much more than divided. Anything less, the carriers win…and that is something I simply cannot allow to happen. Stay safe everyone, and God bless.

Stay safe everyone, and God bless.

Fraternally,

Jeremy R. Ferguson
President, Transportation Division


President Joe Biden signed a historic executive order on February 4 during a visit to Ironworkers Local 5 in Maryland, ensuring the policy of the federal government will be to use Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) for its large-scale construction projects (worth $35 million or more). According to a White House press release, this policy will promote the “economy and efficiency in Federal procurement.”

Before the executive order becomes mandatory, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council (FAR Council) must issue regulations implementing the order. The council has been tasked with issuing proposed rules within 120 days of the order, which would be June 4. Interested parties will be given the opportunity to comment on the proposed rules.

The FAR Council will then issue final rules based on the comments. A previous executive order, issued by President Obama and reinstated after the Trump Administration left office, remains in effect until the FAR Council regulations are final, but federal agencies are encouraged to comply with the new executive order in the meantime.

Once the order is mandatory, all contracts for construction performed for the federal government and its agencies costing $35 million or more must require all contractors and subcontractors to negotiate or become parties to a Project Labor Agreement. This includes not only prime contractors, but also all subcontractors selected to perform work as well.

Once the order is mandatory, all contracts for construction performed for the federal government and its agencies costing $35 million or more must require all contractors and subcontractors to negotiate or become parties to a Project Labor Agreement.

According to SMART General President Joseph Sellers, the executive order “will help ensure that our federal tax dollars spur middle-class job creation and directly benefit our communities, as well as both union and nonunion workers.” He added that “Project Labor Agreements are a tried-and-true way of building our nation’s infrastructure so that projects are completed on time and on budget and workers are paid good wages. When these agreements include provisions to utilize registered apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs with strong diversity and inclusion language, they serve as gateways for local residents, women, people of color and transitioning veterans to gain access to a quality career.”

Sean McGarvey, president of North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU), noted that “many blue-chip companies such as Microsoft, Google, Toyota, Disney and others have recognized the value of using PLAs for their construction projects.”

Project Labor Agreements have been used for generations. They are community benefit agreements between building trade unions and contractors or the owner or developer of a property that is under construction or being redeveloped.

These agreements govern terms and conditions of employment for all craft workers — union and nonunion — on a construction project. They protect taxpayers by eliminating costly delays due to labor conflicts or shortages of skilled workers. They also help provide not only jobs, but new opportunities through access to career training in any one of the union construction trades.

Project Labor Agreements can be tailored to the community’s needs, the size and type of the proposed development and the end user’s expectations.

Jeremy Woolley, left, and Keith Haas.


Since SMART’s “I Got Your Back” campaign began last summer, members across North America have taken action: sharing photos of themselves with their mentors at work and displaying the solidarity that makes our union strong. In March 2022, SM Local 46 (Rochester, N.Y.) relayed an especially impactful “I Got Your Back” story from Brother Keith Haas, demonstrating how union brotherhood and sisterhood extends well beyond the job — and how mentorship helps combat misinformation and strengthen our union, one member at a time.

“Jeremy [Woolley] has had my back both figuratively and metaphorically,” Haas shared. “While we were working at a nonunion company, Jeremy knew that I was unhappy with the direction the company was going and that I was looking for a new job. I knew nothing about the union other than all of the lies and false information that was given out during company meetings.”

“Jeremy was the one who connected me with SMART Local 46,” he added. “After talking to Jon at Local 46, I realized that the unions are not out to get you as my previous employer tried to scare us into believing.”

“I’ve always wanted to properly thank Jeremy for not only these acts of having my back but all that he has done for others as well!”

– SMART Local 46 member Keith Haas

For Haas, Woolley’s solidarity included looking out for his personal health and well-being. “After starting with the union, I hurt my back and was unable to finish the AC I was installing at my house,” Haas explained. “Jeremy not only helped me, but would try to get me to stop working and allow him to do everything. I probably should have listened to him, but I am pretty stubborn. I did slow down and reluctantly allowed him to do most of the hard work.”

“I’ve always wanted to properly thank Jeremy for not only these acts of having my back but all that he has done for others as well!”

“After having back surgery and returning to work, Jeremy told the other employees that if he finds out that they are allowing me to lift anything that he will physically harm them. While I know that Jeremy is not a violent person, all of his tattoos and his threat worked. If I tried to lift anything on the job my coworkers would call Jeremy to report that I was violating his rules.”

Woolley’s commitment to the foundational values of the labor movement — workplace dignity, human equality and the strength of a collective voice, to name a few — helped Haas receive the respect and care he deserved, both on and off the job. And, as Haas told his local, “Joining the union has had a huge positive influence on not just me, but my wife and kids also. I am now able to provide better benefits and actually be home on time for dinner and bedtime.”

“I’ve always wanted to properly thank Jeremy for not only these acts of having my back but all that he has done for others as well!”

To share your story of mentorship and solidarity, email mentors@smart-union.org or post on social media with the hashtag #SMARTIGOTYOURBACK.

Effective March 1, 2022, General Committee 1 was merged into General Committee 2, and General Committee 2 now has jurisdiction with respect to organizing, collective bargaining agreements, wages, hours, conditions of employment and jurisdictional matters over all of the local unions in the Railroad, Mechanical and Engineering Department.

General Chairperson John McCloskey (Local 526) will continue to lead General Committee 2, along with Financial Secretary-Treasurer Jason Busolt (Local 31), who will serve in his role in a fulltime capacity. The General Committee 2 executive board members are Rick Popplewell (Local 179), Kevin Downing (Local 363), Richardo “Joe” Persaud (Local 393), Keith Petrie (Local 139), Matt Haile (Local 78), Troy Weakland (Local 472), Clayton Jacobs (Local 259), Mark Romine (Local 525) and George Jeffers (Local 462). Tom Kennedy (Local 367), Craig Tallini (Local 149), Patrick DeBord (Local 462) and Jose Navarrette, Jr. (Local 209) will serve as trustees.

General Committee 2 will service local unions by overseeing local finances and handling each local’s accounting. This will allow local unions to focus on their essential work — member representation — and will also ensure each local’s compliance with federal laws and regulations.

Jason Busolt is optimistic that General Committee 2’s new role will help the department run much more smoothly, and said he “look[s] forward to providing the best service to our membership.” Busolt emphasized this point: “I am dedicated to making sure all our locals are taken care of and all of their financial needs are met. With the help of all our local officers and membership, together we will ensure the success of this merger and become the leading example for others to learn from.”

Joe Fraley, who was the general chairperson of General Committee 1, has joined Larry Holbert as the department’s second international representative. Assistant to the General President and Special Counsel Donna Silverman will continue to lead the department and work closely with the international representatives to ensure the department continues to serve the general committee, local unions and membership.

On February 16, the department’s leadership held a meeting with local union officers in Orlando, Fla., to give local unions the opportunity to ask questions about the merger. General President Joseph Sellers, Jr., addressing the meeting by Zoom, expressed his appreciation for our local union leadership and for the hard work they do to represent our members at the highest levels. In addition to comments from leadership, Mark Thomson, assistant to the labor member at the Railroad Retirement Board, provided meeting attendees with information about Railroad Retirement benefits.

General Chairperson John McCloskey was energized by the conversation and engagement at the Orlando meeting. “Being part of this meeting was really an honor, having listened to the questions that were asked and the open conversation among the attendees, it is obvious our Railroad Mechanical Department’s future is bright,” he said, reflecting on the meeting. “We all realize the challenges of representing our members while the carriers insist we must do more with less. We heard today that having each other’s back is not just a saying, it’s an obligation. Our members expect honesty and transparency from top to bottom, our local leadership expect education and communication. We must and we will deliver.”

The goal of this merger is to enable better service for the members of the Railroad, Mechanical and Engineering Department and to provide more efficient representation of our members. In addition, the merger will combine resources, leverage the department’s expertise and create more opportunities to grow the department and membership, all of which will better protect the members’ common interests. Donna Silverman comments, “Our members have the international’s commitment to ensure the success of this merger, and we will devote the necessary resources and support to the hardworking officers and members of this department.”

You can learn more about General Committee 2 at www.smartgc2.com.

Meet your general chairperson, John McCloskey

General Chairperson John McCloskey

General Chairperson McCloskey emigrated from Ireland in 1994, where he was a member of the National Engineering and Electrical Trade Union (NEETU). He joined Amtrak in 1999, becoming a member of Local 526. He served as local president and local chairman of Local 526 and as an executive board member of the District Council of Railroads, joining in 2009. He became a general chairperson in January 2012.

On a personal note, General Chairperson McCloskey is married to Toni and has a daughter, Aoife (22), and a son, Conor (20).

Outside of work, he is a soccer referee and has officiated in Major League Soccer (MLS) as well as international friendlies where he may not have met the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, but enjoyed the company of lesser stars such as Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovich. He continues to referee NCAA games, refereeing the final four in 2016 and most recently the ACC Final between Duke and Notre Dame.

The Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) recently achieved North America’s first fully zero-emission fleet thanks to the work of SMART SM Local 105 members employed at BYD (Build Your Dreams) in Lancaster, Calif.

Fully 57 of AVTA’s 87 battery electric coaches and buses were built by BYD at its Lancaster Coach & Bus Manufacturing facility. Many BYD employees and their families are served by the agency in the Antelope Valley.

Portions of the fleet were purchased with the help of state funding, including $28.5 million from the California Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP) administered by Caltrans and the California State Transportation Agency.

Every American-built, zero-emission BYD bus eliminates approximately 1,690 tons of CO2 over its 12-year lifespan, according to the U.S. Transportation Department. This is equivalent to taking 27 cars off the road. Each bus also eliminates 10 tons of nitrogen oxide and 350 pounds of diesel particulate matter, improving air quality in the communities they serve.

BYD is America’s first battery-electric bus manufacturer that has both a unionized workforce and a Community Benefits Agreement, which sets goals for hiring veterans, single parents, second-chance citizens and others facing hurdles in obtaining manufacturing employment.

According to SMART’s 6th General Vice President and Local 105 Business Manager Luther Medina, “We are proud of our partnership with BYD and the work we have done to ensure the Antelope Valley sets the standard for clean transportation options, not only here in California but across North America.”

Throughout the past federal election and since, SMART and unions across Canada have urged parties to put people before politics. We can finally say that two parties, the Liberals and New Democrats, have delivered and united together to form a governing majority.

While Conservatives try to frustrate progress through partisanship, this deal cuts through and delivers positive results for people. With today’s agreement, Parliament can now move forward on a recovery that puts workers and their families at its heart.

The agreement takes positive steps forward on key priorities the labour movement has fought for, in some cases for many decades. This includes implementing 10 days paid sick leave as soon as possible in 2022, as well as new “anti-scab” legislation by the end of 2023 for federally regulated industries, covering both lockouts and strikes.

With today’s agreement, Parliament can now move forward on a recovery that puts workers and their families at its heart.

In addition, labour has been fighting to invest in stronger public health care, and this deal delivers on that front with substantial steps towards universal pharmacare, including a Canada Pharmacare Act in place by end of 2023, followed by a national formulary for essential medicines and a bulk purchasing plan in place by 2025. This includes dental care for low-income Canadians, beginning with under 12-year-olds in 2022; under 18’s, seniors and people with disabilities in 2023; and all those making less than $90,000 by 2025.

To take care of our seniors who led the way for us, this contains an agreement on safe long-term care to ensure seniors get the care they deserve, regardless of where they live in Canada, and finally increases health funding, working with provinces to deliver more primary care nurses and doctors, mental health support, homecare, better data and improved health outcomes.

This is not only why elections matter, but also why forming a coalition built across working families’ issues that we advocate is a winning strategy. This could not have been possible without the contribution of union members coming together across our provinces. Thanks to this vital work, we can now move forward, together, and take the next step in realizing our goals as a labour movement in lockstep with our Canadian values.

Fraternally,

Chris Paswisty
Director of Canadian Affairs

New Jersey State Legislative Director Ron Sabol received a big honor March 2, after being elected to lead the influential New Jersey Society for Environmental, Economic Development (NJ SEED) coalition by the group’s trustees and members.

N.J. Sen. Patrick J. Diegnan Jr., chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee who has collaborated with Sabol on a number of legislative initiatives, swore him in. Sabol succeeds James Benton, who presided over the group during the majority of the COVID-19 pandemic, as president of the group.

“Ron is the quintessence of how to get things done. It’s not only about being smart, it’s not only about listening to people, it’s about trust,” Diegnan said. “You could not have a better leader.”

“Ron is the quintessence of how to get things done. It’s not only about being smart, it’s not only about listening to people, it’s about trust. You could not have a better leader.”

– NJ State Senator Patrick J. Diegnan Jr.

NJ SEED has been in existence for more than 35 years. It consists of a diverse coalition of energy providers, environmental consultants, telecommunications firms, residential and commercial development interests, insurance firms, educators, police and firefighters, food manufacturers and retailers, water utilities, chemical industries, pharmaceutical companies and health care advocates. Its purpose is to balance the needs of unionized labor and the business community while being keenly in tune with environmental concerns.

Ron Sabol

“You can count on me to carry the NJ SEED message, your message, in the work that I do and to the people that I meet,” Sabol said. “I believe in NJ SEED and what we will all accomplish together.”

A main focus of the coalition going forward will be working with New Jersey elected leaders as the state works to effectively allocate federal funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (formerly the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act).

“Ron Sabol is an excellent choice to lead NJ SEED. In his role at SMART, he leads a broad and diverse coalition. He knows how to get people from different backgrounds to work together, which will be crucial to the continued success of NJ SEED,” the New Jersey AFL-CIO said in a statement. “We congratulate Ron on his election and look forward to working with him in his new role.”

Sabol, a member of our union since April 2000, has been president of Local 1447 (Newark, N.J.) since 2005 and became state legislative director in 2016.

“This is a great responsibility, and SEED’s influence has been resurging in recent years,” Sabol said. “We are going to be in the middle of a lot of action with the federal money that’s going to be coming into New Jersey and have the chance to set the stage for beneficial and transformative change now and well into the future.”

SMART Transportation Division congratulates Brother Sabol on his new position of leadership!

Adriana Farren has always been into numbers. She earned a bachelor’s degree in human resources with a minor in finance and worked in the front office of the former Sheet Metal Workers Local 41 in Puerto Rico before moving to Pennsylvania in 2011.

This was where her life took a much different turn, and it all started with a job working in the office of Comprehensive Test and Balance in Dover, Pa.

After two years overseeing Farren working in the office — reading plans, going over forms and entering data — Todd Walter, owner of the company, approached her with a question: Would you be interested in becoming an apprentice?

“I said, ‘yes.’ Then, he said, ‘You’ll have great benefits,’ and I said, ‘yes’ twice,” Farren recalled with a laugh. “By looking at the reports, I thought it would be a career I would be interested in.”

The first lesson: integrity and honesty are important in testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB).

Walter saw Farren working on bids and learning the necessary drawings, documentation and paperwork, and he offered her the chance to have a career instead of a job. A second-generation sheet metal worker, Walter also took the opportunity to guide Farren through the process and mentor her as others had mentored him.

The first lesson: integrity and honesty are important in testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB), he said.

“No matter what you do, they have to believe what you tell them. Adriana had good personal skills. She had the insight. She is very smart, and she was at the top of her class. She fit the bill,” Walter added. “It’s something my father said a long time ago — you can have a job, or you can put your head into it and make it a career.”

During the first two years of her apprenticeship at SMART Sheet Metal Local 19 (Central Pa.), Farren knew she wanted to do testing, adjusting and balancing. So, at night, she took air and water classes and was certified as a technician in 2015 while she was still an apprentice.

Since her graduation in 2017, Farren has continued to gain certifications. She said testing keeps the skills fresh in her mind. To date, she holds a welding certification in addition to duct leakage testing and high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) testing.

“It’s a continuous learning process. I want to continue learning more about the balancing concept. I like to learn new things every day.”

– Local 19 member Adriana Farren

“It’s a continuous learning process. I want to continue learning more about the balancing concept. I like to learn new things every day. I would like to expand my knowledge in different areas related to TAB,” she said. “Having a certification shows people you’re certified in that concept and you know what you’re doing. In order to be a TAB tech, you don’t have to have the certification, but if you do, it proves you know what you’re doing.”

Knowledge, in Farren’s case, was definitely powerful. Although she took English classes on her native island of Puerto Rico, it was her second language. Being the only female balancer at Comprehensive Test and Balance — something Walter would like to see change — has its challenges, but all the challenges she’s faced have been nothing she can’t handle, she said.

“Back when I was in college, I thought I wanted to look after the employees and watch over them from a human resources point of view,” Farren said. “Looking back, 12 years later, that would have been very boring for me. I would have had to be in an office with the same four walls. No offense to the people who do it, but I like the fact I’m always somewhere different and learning something new.”

Walter took a chance asking Farren if she would be interested in a career. Now, as a full-time balancer at Comprehensive Test and Balance, she sees how her love of numbers led her to the career she now has. An interest in math, problem solving and finance isn’t relegated to an office and four walls. Those interests also can lead outside to various locations, continuous learning and a skill set that can last a lifetime.

“If you think you can do it, give it a try,” Farren said. “You don’t lose anything by trying, not just in this career, but anything. Trust your gut feeling. If you think you can do it, you probably can.”