Author Archive

SMART Mourns the Death of Larry Willis

“SMART joins labor unions across North America in mourning the loss AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department President Larry Willis.

Brother Willis was a tremendous leader who provided determined guidance, measured action and stood undaunted by the multitude of challenges transportation labor in our country faces now, and will continue to face going forward.

With wide ranging experience as a lawyer, congressional staff member, policy expert and worker advocate, he brought a deep understanding of policy and transportation issues to his work. He forged strong relationships with government and political leaders and worked tirelessly to help unite and build power for transportation workers across the United States.

Along with working families across the transportation trades, SMART will miss his leadership, his tremendous insight and his deep well of experience. We are filled with sadness for his family and friends at this tragic loss and mourn with them.”

Statement on the Result of the 2020 Presidential Election

The following is a statement from SMART General President Joseph Sellers, Jr. on the election of Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris:

 

“On behalf of the men and women of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART), we congratulate President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their historic election.

The American people have spoken loud and clear.  The diligence and respect election officials held for every legitimate vote strengthens the moral authority of our American democracy and the vital importance of free and fair elections.

SMART looks forward to a Biden-Harris Administration that puts working Americans interests ahead regardless of party and we look forward to working alongside him to recover from the brutal pandemic and economic decline that resulted from the response to it.

It is time for politicians of all stripes to put down their political differences and put our nation back on track towards a stronger, healthier, more prosperous and unified democracy that works for all Americans.”

 

Action Request: Stand With Your Brothers and Sisters at Amtrak

The livelihoods of thousands of transportation workers have been disrupted by COVID since its onset this past spring.

Our brothers and sisters at Amtrak are the latest to have their lives upended by this pandemic.

Nearly 2,000 of the carrier’s unionized workers, including 500 SMART brothers and sisters were targeted recent furloughs that are to go into effect on November 1.

To make matters worse, Amtrak is cutting service at a moment when people in the Midwest and others who may not feel comfortable flying need an alternative and accessible means of transport that only Amtrak can provide.

Click here to take action today.

Mooney Appointed to SMART GEC

Mike Mooney is in his 34th year as a SMART sheet metal worker. He started his Sheet Metal career in 1986, finished his 5-year Apprenticeship in 1991 and worked with the tools as a Foreman until 2000. In 2000, he was appointed as a Local 18 Union Organizer and continued in this position until 2005. In 2005, the membership elected Mike as their Milwaukee Area #6 Business Representative where he continued in this position until 2013. In 2013, he was elected to the Statewide position of Financial Secretary/Treasurer for Local 18 and he continued in this position until 2018 when he was elected as the President/Business Manager for Sheet Metal Workers’ Local 18 and he continues in this capacity today.

In 2018, Mike was also appointed as a member of the National Joint Adjustment Board (NJAB) and has also served on many committees for the International. In 2019, Mike was appointed to the Executive Board of Building Advantage. Building Advantage is a Labor Management council that promotes union construction in Southeastern Wisconsin. The Building Advantage Executive Board is made up of six labor and six management representatives, along with six industry advisors solving issues of mutual concern, promote use of union construction and recruitment of the future workforce.

STEPS Challenge announces winners, fall challenge

Congratulations to the winners of SMOHIT’s Spring STEPS Challenge, which ended on April 30. SMOHIT would like to thank all the participants for committing to their health and team spirit during the STEPS Challenge.

The fall STEPS Challenge will begin Sept. 15 and continue through Oct. 31.

The following participants entered the Million Steps Club:

Quinn Peterson – 1,542,081 steps

Eric Peterson – 1,378,920 steps

Dennis Menges – 1,203,098 steps

Lorena Hayden – 1,104,515 steps

Kevin Millering – 1,084,860 steps

Geneva Menges – 1,072,360 steps

Doug Tracy – 1,006,419 steps

 

The most improved participants include:

Paige Armstrong – improved by 132,616 steps

Chris Caricato – improved by 67,054 steps

John Espinos, Jr. – improved by 247,437 steps

Johnny Galvan – improved by 118,739 steps

Kris Hammond – improved by 501,900 steps

Carol Menges – improved by 338,751 steps

Geneva Menges – improved by 358,210 steps

Ginger Moore – improved by 44,011 steps

Iris Ruiz – improved by 151,672 steps

Kathy Wagone – improved by 214,055 steps

 

Advanced class top 10 winners include:

  1. Quinn Peterson – 1,542,081 steps
  2. Eric Peterson – 1,378,920 steps
  3. Dennis Menges – 1,203,098 steps
  4. Lorena Hayden – 1,104,515 steps
  5. Kevin Millering – 1,084,860 steps
  6. Geneva Menges – 1,072,277 steps
  7. Doug Tracy – 1,006,419 steps
  8. Dwight Nelson – 826,202 steps
  9. Chris Caricato – 763,423 steps
  10. Scott Hart – 760,383 steps

Beginner class top 10 winners:

  1. Iris Ruiz – 294,084 steps
  2. John Simpson – 283,320 steps
  3. Mike Cooley – 297,588 steps
  4. Jose Romero – 275,937 steps
  5. Shannon Wagner – 272,222 steps
  6. Garrett Mills – 270,980 steps
  7. Amy Ramos – 262,255 steps
  8. Daniel Maslo – 243,119 steps
  9. Jason Whitman – 238,700 steps
  10. .David Roche – 229,017 steps

Best team award: Team Basset, which includes Dylan Cooper, Nick Schmitt, Amanda Schmitt and Pam Cooper

 

NEMIC recognizes Local 105, 88 with industry awards

This summer, NEMIC announced its annual Industry Awards, which recognize a local, training center, Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association chapter and other sheet metal organizations for leadership, commitment and innovation in the unionized sheet metal industry.

The union and training center recognized this year shared a similar thread — the actions of leadership were meant to directly affect the future of the industry.

Southern California Sheet Metal JATC Local 105 near Los Angeles is recognized for its leadership in implementation and promotion of Mechanical Acceptance Test (MAT) certifications mandated under California Code of Regulations Title 24. Sheet Metal Workers Local 88 in Las Vegas is recognized for its commitment to the passage of statewide fire life safety legislation.

In California, training apprentices and journey people to certify in MAT allows SMART members to grasp the work and hold onto it for now and into the future. To expand opportunities, the training center was opened to members from Local 206 in San Diego, which doesn’t have the ability to conduct certifications, said Lance Clark, administrator for Local 105’s training center.

“Somebody is going to do the work,” he said. “Engineers have been signing off on the work when it’s our guys doing the work every day. I want the work hours. I don’t want to give up the work.”

Beginning this semester, apprentices are required to complete the training and certification for Mechanical Acceptance Test Technician (MATT) before they graduate. The largest hurdle is showing a sheet metal worker who isn’t an air balancer they can do this, too, and keep work hours from going elsewhere.

“You don’t have to be an air balancer,” Clark said. “It’s what we do every day. You’re doing the work anyway. You may as well get credit for it. When you’re teaching an apprentice sheet metal from the beginning, you may as well teach them this, too.”

Training and certifying in MAT goes back to a mantra Clark shares with his apprentices: get as many certifications as you can, so you’re never expendable. Well-rounded apprentices — and later, journey people — are an asset to contractors. When they are deciding who to lay off and who to keep, many times they choose to keep the workers with the most certifications, Clark said.

“Contractors want workers with certification to allow them to bid that work,” he added.

NEMIC and Sheet Metal Workers Local 88 leadership had work hours and public safety on their minds as they worked to pass legislation in Nevada to require fire and smoke damper maintenance and testing of smoke and fire dampers and smoke control systems in buildings used for most commercial buildings. According to the bill, AB 297, the inspection, testing and maintenance of these fire life safety systems must be completed by a technician certified by the ICB, through a program accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Nevada was the second state to pass statewide legislation. This spring, Washington followed suit as the third.

Jeff Proffitt, business manager for Local 88, attributes the passage to presentations given by Scott Hammond, NEMIC director of research, and member Kennedy Sanders, a Local 88 instructor who works with fire life safety systems daily.

“We had no opposition to it because of how they presented it. It went as planned because of the detail they went into,” Proffitt said. “Whenever you get something like this done it’s a team effort, but it starts at campaign season, making sure all the candidates on both sides of the aisle know your causes.”

Together, NEMIC and Local 88 worked together to educate building owners, who didn’t understand the severity of leaving fire life safety systems unchecked. Implementation was set to begin in January of this year, but has been derailed due to the pandemic.

Local 88 was recognized for “exceptional commitment to passage of fire life safety legislation and promotion of ICB/TABB certifications,” and to Proffitt, it is recognition shared with the entire team that made it happen.

“It can be done, and it’s important to Republicans and Democrats. In the committees, it was a unanimous vote. Everyone was receptive to it,” Proffitt said. “We have a really good team. Those guys do the work.”

 

Dan McCallum named executive director of the Sheet Metal Funds

The sponsor organizations of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) have selected Dan McCallum as the executive director of the International Training Institute (ITI), the National Energy Management Institute/Committee (NEMI/NEMIC) and the Sheet Metal Occupational Health Institute Trust (SMOHIT) funds. McCallum previously served as ITI’s architectural specialist and member of its field staff.

A graduate of the SMART Sheet Metal Workers’ Local 19 apprenticeship program, McCallum was introduced to architectural sheet metal on the first day of his apprenticeship in 1985 and maintained a love of the skill, art and craftsmanship. Upon starting at the Warko Group in 1991, he helped to develop the mechanical and architectural sheet metal divisions of the roofing company. He also gave back to his local union by serving on committees for the Central Pennsylvania Joint Apprenticeship Training and Labor and Industry committees for nine years.

With 31 years under his belt, McCallum left The Warko Group as vice president, estimator and project manager to take the position with the ITI in 2016.

When he took the position, he said, “I really do believe I can change the industry in the architectural field,” and he did just that. Since that time, McCallum created Strike Force Training, which gave the ITI the ability to work with contractors, manufacturers and training centers to coordinate concentrated, specialized architectural sheet metal training for work coming into geographic areas. Not only did Strike Force Training provide SMART members with training straight from the manufacturer, it gave signatory contractors the fortitude to bid on the projects that required it.

“The work that Dan has done for the ITI the last four years has really helped to bring architectural sheet metal to the forefront in the industry,” said James Page, ITI administrator. “Based on the excellent work he’s done on behalf of his specialty; we can’t wait to see the leadership he provides for all of the Funds.”

 

Wolf Metals integral to creating units to sanitize PPE

On a Thursday morning in March, when much of the country was being told to shelter in place due to the effects of COVID-19, Mike Wolf, plant manager for the small, family owned, custom sheet metal company Wolf Metals, attended a meeting at the Ohio technology and research organization, Battelle, to discuss a possible project. By that afternoon, Wolf and his crew watched as the company delivered the first two shipping containers that Wolf Metals would modify and transform into Battelle’s Sanitizing Critical Care Decontamination System (CCDS) units to disinfect personal protective equipment, including N95 masks for health care workers.

By the following Monday, Wolf Metals had fabricated four units.

“It is a testament to my guys, the guys who work for us and knowing the importance of what these machines were being made for,” Wolf said. “We worked straight through the weekend to deliver the first four units.”

Wolf Metals began in 1974 when brothers Mike and Jim Wolf began working out of Mike’s garage on nights and weekends. When the demand outgrew their space and time, the brothers started Wolf Metals.

Since its beginnings, Wolf Metals grew with Jim Wolf’s sons, Mike and Pat, joining their father at the company. Both sons went through the apprenticeship program at SMART Sheet Metal Local 24 in Dayton, Ohio, and credit the education and training they received with their continued success.

Since the initial meeting with Battelle, Wolf Metals has produced several additional CCDS units. Local 24 Business Manager Rodney French, credited the local union’s partnership with Wolf Metals and noted that “this is the kind of work sheet metal workers were built to do as we stand on the leading edge of the response to this deadly pandemic.”  French added that, “no matter what the consequences, the men and women of this organization will stand ready to serve our local communities through thick and thin.”

 

SMART Members to Star on Next Episode of Brotherhood Outdoors

Drags whine as line seems to melt from the spool when SMART sheet metal workers Eric Dobek and his son Gage hook up with massive bull redfish in Venice, Louisiana, as guest anglers on the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Brotherhood Outdoors television series.

Airing the week of July 13 on the Sportsman Channel, the episode features a father-and-son team who have been hunting and fishing together since Gage was 3 years old. Now, both are hardworking members of SMART Local 85, and Brotherhood Outdoors captures the non-stop action of their first quest for giant redfish.

“For as much time as Gage and I have spent in the outdoors together, we’ve never had the opportunity for a real father-and-son adventure,” said Dobek. “This trip was a dream-come-true. These redfish are absolute monsters.”

Sharing a boat with USA Executive Director and CEO Scott Vance, the pair cast popper rigs and plastics and hook one bull redfish after another during an incredible three-day trip.

“Eric and Gage work for the same SMART union contractor and possess a strong work ethic,” said Vance. “Just as important, though, is the strong bond they have with each other and the outdoors. Being in the boat with them was a special experience.”

Catch the action as the Dobeks conquer the Louisiana Delta’s bull redfish on Brotherhood Outdoors when the episode airs on the Sportsman Channel Tuesday, July 14 at 4 p.m. Eastern with re-airings on Friday at 11:30 a.m., Saturday at 1:30 a.m. and Sunday, July 19 at 11 a.m.

Tune in to Brotherhood Outdoors each week as union members pursue trophy whitetails in Wyoming, bull redfish in Louisiana, mountain lions in Utah, stealthy mule deer in Colorado, and more.

For a complete list of upcoming episodes, visit www.brotherhoodoutdoors.tv. To watch episodes from past seasons, visit www.myoutdoortv.com.

Contact Your Member of Congress: Support Safety & Job Provisions in the INVEST Act

The rail provisions in the INVEST Act (H.R. 2), recently passed by a House Committee, are the largest and most comprehensive attempt to address public and employee safety and security in the transportation industry. These sweeping provisions will directly benefit the health and safety of your fellow SMART members.

 

Once enacted, the Act would require two-person crews on all freight trains, with few exceptions; cover Yardmasters under Hours of Service; outline a strategy for Amtrak to move away from being “profit” based to being “service” based; add a study of safety impacts of long trains and Precision Scheduled Railroading; require brakes subject to leaking in the cold be pulled out of service; create additional oversight on the failure of PTC systems; direct the FRA to better include labor in accident investigations; deploy a federal standard to reduce blocked grade crossings; add crew size and train length to FRA accident reports; address assaults on bus and transit drivers and operators; and, add a labor member to the Amtrak Board of Directors.

Please click this link to send a message to your US Representative. Time is short as this legislation is due to be considered in the coming days.

Talking SMART Podcast Ep. 6: SMART Women Lead, Mentor, Train and Build

Last episode, we heard from two SMART sisters — Lisa Davis and Vanessa Carman — who discussed how they got into the industry, training and mentoring, growing diversity in construction and opportunities for women in the sheet metal trade. In Episode 6, we continue that conversation with two more female leaders and activists in SMART who have taken the lead in creating new opportunities for women in the building trades.

Our first guest is Mechelle McNew, chair of the SMART Women’s Committee and a longtime business manager at Local 464 in Ponca City, Oklahoma. She discusses how she got into the trade, how workplaces have changed for the better for women in the industry and what it was like being the first woman to run for and win elected office in her local.

Our second guest is Leah Rambo, a native New Yorker who serves as the training administrator for Local 28 and has broken new ground for women and minority members in her local. She is also the co-chair of the National Taskforce on Tradeswomen’s Issues. Leah shares her story of coming up in the sheet metal industry, addressing bias and harassment in the workplace, mentoring and female role models, and the importance of SMART doing targeted recruitment and outreach to women and people of color.

Both Michelle and Leah also discuss the important work of the SMART Women’s Committee, including attending the 2019 Women Build Nations conference with a large cohort of SMART sisters, and how the committee helped to draft and organize around a number of resolutions that were ultimately adopted at the 2nd SMART General Convention in August 2019.

In addition, listen for the open mic segment at the end of this episode, where General President Joseph Sellers responds to a question about what SMART is doing in response to protests and rallies for racial justice across the United States and around the world.

Click here to listen to the episode

VP Biden Addresses SMART Members In New Video Message

SMART leadership has always been highly engaged in the political process. The focus has been to advocate on behalf of issues and candidates that actively support members and working family issues.

Since the 2016 election cycle, General President Joe Sellers has focused the Union’s efforts to listen to and address feedback from members on local, state and federal issues that affect them at work.  This means being transparent and clear with members when asked to support the candidates who most closely align with our issues.

During the past four years, SMART leadership has met with nearly all the presidential candidates and had meaningful dialog regarding our issues. Many of them, we have found, support the issues of importance to the membership of this Union.

One of these candidates is Vice President Joe Biden. SMART met with Vice President Biden’s team several times, all of them being very productive conversations. Vice President Biden, with a long history of interaction with members in both the sheet metal and transportation industries, is acutely aware and engaged in our issues. His team took what they learned from our conversations and created this video to allow the VP to speak directly to you about the issues you have raised concerns about and his position on them.