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SMART-TD Local Leader and Air National Guard Lt. Col. Does His Part to Get Shots in Arms

SMART TD Local 1470 (Edmonston, Md.) Secretary-Treasurer and Maryland Air National Guard Lt. Col. Charles “Chuck” Wetzelberger is doing his part to get the public vaccinated against COVID-19. A 35-year member of the National Guard, Wetzelberger was on the reserves list when he heard about his unit possibly being part of vaccination efforts. With 33 years of seniority as a conductor at Amtrak, he took a military leave of absence from being a conductor to be part of the front-line vaccination effort.

Before shots got put into anyone’s arms, they needed a plan, and Wetzelberger was instrumental in that, too. His first task after being called to duty was to work with the Maryland Department of Health and get in contact with local health department administrators and secretaries so he could schedule mobile vaccination teams from his unit to go out to drive-up and brick-and-mortar vaccination sites to help get members of the public their shots.

When Maryland decided to start doing mass vaccination sites, Wetzelberger volunteered to be the on-site commander at the M&T Bank Stadium, where the Baltimore Ravens play, and got the site up and running within 18 days with the help of the University of Maryland Medical System. He brought 71 airmen with him to help operate the site.

““Health is so important. Don’t take a chance with it. I’d get the vaccine. There’s a lot of misinformation out there.”

– SMART TD Local 1470 Secretary-Treasurer and Maryland Air National Guard Lt. Col. Charles “Chuck” Wetzelberger

“It [the Ravens’ stadium] went from a barren, first-class, club-level football stadium, to a fully-operational clinic within 18 days,” said Wetzelberger. “And our highest output in one day was 6,152 vaccinations. We did that in one day at the end of April.” He urges everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. He’s seen the effects of this virus and knows that it isn’t going away anytime soon if people are unwilling to get vaccinated.

“Health is so important. Don’t take a chance with it. I’d get the vaccine. There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” he said. “I didn’t realize how much just foddering and just wrong information is out there about these vaccines. One of the main takeaways is, you’ve gotta do research. Don’t believe everything you see on Facebook. You gotta do research to protect yourself.”

He added: “People are taking chances with their health right now, and they’re just believing anything someone puts online, and it’s a shame because these vaccines are highly effective, they protect you against this nasty virus. I’ve known many people who’ve gotten this thing, and it’s everything from losing their sense of taste and smell all the way up to dying. So there’s no reason to take a chance.”

If you are unvaccinated and interested in protecting yourself and others, visit to find your nearest vaccination site.

SM Local 88 helps pass indoor air quality bill for Nevada schools

On June 3, 2021, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signed into law new comprehensive legislation aimed at assessing and improving air ventilation and filtration systems in schools across the state.

The legislation, Assembly Bill 257, requires all public and charter schools in Nevada to assess and upgrade (if needed) their HVAC and filtration systems once federal money already allocated for this purpose becomes available at the state level.

The new state law requires that assessments be performed only by “certified technicians” accredited by one or more of the following programs:

  • Nevada State-recognized Apprenticeship Programs
  • Associated Air Balance Council (AABC)
  • National Environment Balancing Bureau (NEBB)
  • Testing, Adjusting and Balancing Bureau (TABB)

“With fire and life safety, and now with indoor air quality, members will have more opportunities to branch out into other aspects of being a sheet metal worker to increase hours and market share,” said SMART Local 88 Business Manager Jeff Proffitt.

The most-recent Nevada legislative session was like no other, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing restrictions. The state legislature meets for 120 days every two years. This session, no lobbyists were allowed in either legislative building throughout the first 90 days of the session, and all meetings, hearings and testimony were conducted virtually.

Ahead of implementation of the new legislation, Local 88 members had already been working to help improve indoor quality in schools in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas and has the largest school district in the state.

“One of our signatory contractors has been installing global plasma ionization systems in the nursing stations of Clark County School District during 2021, and a select few new construction school projects,” Proffitt said.

Raising standards for indoor air quality — the SMART way

If there is one thing the COVID-19 pandemic has done, it has sharply highlighted decades of neglect of indoor air quality (IAQ) in schools. Despite its importance, poor ventilation in schools is a widespread, persistent problem. Students, parents, and teachers should enter a classroom knowing they are safe. General ventilation requirements for schools already exist, but those requirements have failed to ensure adequate ventilation due to the lack of explicit guidance on the procedures and steps to ensure compliance.

Numerous independent studies have found that the vast majority of classrooms fail to meet minimum ventilation rates.

Numerous independent studies have found that the vast majority of classrooms fail to meet minimum ventilation rates. This is not just a problem in older systems, but also in newer classrooms where ventilation levels are below the minimum required rates, including exceeding safe carbon dioxide levels. One of the nation’s larger school districts recently reported that 1 of 10 students and faculty have asthma. Researchers recommend periodic testing of HVAC systems and continuous real-time CO2 monitoring to detect and correct these problems.

The persistence of inadequate ventilation rates is of particular concern as states and provinces in the United States and Canada look to fully reopen schools and remove mask mandates this fall as vaccination rates increase in both nations.

Enter SMART and the industry-leading professionals at the National Energy Management Institute (NEMI), who have developed processes and systems to improve IAQ in schools, hospitals and buildings. The Ventilation Verification Program is a critical tool to make sure the air in schools, offices and other indoor spaces is safe to breathe.

The Ventilation Verification Program is a critical tool to make sure the air in schools, offices and other indoor spaces is safe to breathe.

The program outlines the steps that must be taken to make sure HVAC systems are operating properly. At the same time, SMART is pushing the federal government to adopt the program in its procurement policies, guidance and standards. SMART General President Joseph Sellers and SMART staff have met with agency heads and senior agency staff at the Department of Energy, Department of Education, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, Council on Environmental Quality, Office of Management and Budget, General Services Administration and the White House about this issue and have spread the word to anyone and everyone, from Parent-Teacher Organizations (PTOs) on up.

At the end of May 2021, a SMART member participated in the first roundtable held by the Department of Education for school employees about school reopening. This was an important opportunity for us to talk about our work on IAQ in schools and push the Department of Education to issue specific IAQ guidance that follows the steps outlined in the Ventilation Verification Program.

SMART is not stopping there. We’re building widespread support for this issue. We’ve been meeting with stakeholders to develop diverse and broad support and share our resources. Groups include the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, American Federation of School Administrators, National School Board Association, National PTA, the Actors’ Equity Association and Democratic Municipal Officials.

Union Halls Help Vaccine Effort

SMART SM Locals in New York City, St. Louis, Chicago and Minneapolis mobilized over the winter and spring to provide added capacity for COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts, with union facilities functioning as injection sites for members, veterans and, in some cases, the general public. These efforts were part of a coordinated effort by building trades unions to make their facilities available to President Biden’s COVID-19 Relief Task Force for U.S. vaccine distribution. In February 2021, the Governing Board of Presidents of North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) voted unanimously to offer more than 5,000 union halls and training centers to the vaccine distribution effort.

“We are proud to work with our partners, such as Thrifty White Pharmacy and Blue Cross Blue Shield Minnesota, to offer a sponsored vaccination clinic for the community, our members and their families,” said Local 10 (Minn.) President and Business Manager Matt Fairbanks.

In St. Louis, SM Local 36 local partnered with the Veterans Administration to assist veterans with vaccine injections.

“Local 36 is proud to stand with our veterans to provide a safe, convenient location for them to receive their vaccine.”

– Local 36 Financial Secretary-Treasurer Jeremy Snyder

“Local 36 is proud to stand with our veterans to provide a safe, convenient location for them to receive their vaccine,” said Local 36 Financial Secretary-Treasurer Jeremy Snyder. He added that the union hall effectively functioned as a pop-up vaccine clinic, with sanitation crews coming in each night and doing a deep clean of the space.

SM Local 73 (Chicago) President and Business Manager Raymond Suggs, whose local partnered with Proviso Township and Jewel-Osco on the vaccination efforts, said the local was proud to offer “a safe, convenient location for members of our community to receive their vaccine.”

“Our members have been on the frontlines in battling this pandemic,” added SMART General President Joseph Sellers. “This includes producing and installing equipment critical to indoor air quality, delivering rail freight essential to keeping our economy moving and operating passenger rail and transit. We are pleased to see our efforts have been taken to the next level through the use of our union infrastructure to help with vaccine distribution.”

Because of their long history of hosting toy drives, blood drives and many other community service events, local unions have been uniquely positioned and prepared to immediately assist with broad vaccination distribution in every U.S. state. These are just a sample of many efforts across North America, as SMART has helped lead the way in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

How to Claim Lagging Work

Below is a Summary of Typical Scope of Work on Combined Cycle Power Plants

Gas Burners

  • If piping is being stripped for repair/ replacement or valve repair/replacement, there may be SMART scope for the lagging. Much of your small bore pipe, 8” outside diameter (O.D.) of insulation or smaller, will likely be .016” lagging (but it could be thicker and should have a gauge put on it). Most valves should be insulated with removable pads for maintenance. On many occasions, insulation is installed too close to the valve flanges to allow for bolt removal. In these cases, insulation and lagging may get removed to replace/repair valves, which will cause the insulation and lagging to need reinstallation prior to start-up.
  • The greater the O.D. of pipe insulation, the more chance there is of the lagging being .024” or .032” thickness.
  • Also, the insulation material can have a bearing on lagging thickness. Cal-sil pipe insulation (chalky, white, dense) is more rigid and can be lagged with lighter gauge metal. Fiberglass or mineral wool insulation is softer and many times lagged with a heavier/ thicker lagging to protect it.
  • The lagging thickness will be labeled on the inside of the metal if it has not burned off. But during installation of new material, you can find the thickness there, or even on the labels of the boxes that the metal lagging is packaged in.
  • Most of the equipment, such as tanks, pressure vessels, steam drums, etc. will have .032” lagging. If you see equipment maintenance or repair in the scope, suspect that there may be SMART jurisdiction.
  • The combustion turbines are typically insulated with removable blankets or pads that can be removed and replaced during maintenance.
  • The steam turbine is often insulated on top and bottom with block, which is then coated with a mud and cloth jacketing. And the parting flange on the steam turbine will typically have removable pads for insulation. Not always, but this is the case much of the time.
  • The HRSG duct (from combustion turbines to steam drums) is usually insulated on the inside of the duct and not insulated or lagged on the exterior.
  • The stack breech section (from HRSG duct to stack) is usually insulated conventionally and lagged with box rib aluminum.
  • The stack is usually insulated conventionally. If API Construction did the insulation, it may be insulated panels.
  • Keep in mind that pipe may have been lagged with .016” metal in most places, but the lagging thickness may have been increased only in high traffic areas or in Personnel Protection (PP) areas.

Coal-burning power plants

Coal-fired plants will have some similarities to the situations above. In general, SMART will have much more scope on a coal burner:

  • The boiler walls (or boiler casing, tube walls, water walls — there are many different terms for this) will be conventionally insulated and typically have .040” box rib lagging. But this flat work and gauge doesn’t matter.
  • All flat work (that is not insulated panel composite work) will belong to SMART, no matter what the lagging thickness is.
  • If the scope lists inspection or repair for ducts, expansion joints, headers, steam drums, etc. it is almost guaranteed that the lagging will be our gauge. Again, duct lagging and expansion joint lagging will fall under the flat work umbrella and that is SMART’s scope, no matter what the lagging thickness is.
  • The boiler penthouse roof will sometimes be insulated on the top with block and lagged with a walking surface of 10 gauge or 11 gauge galvanized standing seam lagging.

Everyone should carry a gauge similar to this Eastwood sheet metal guage if they are going to visit or work on an industrial job site:

Shell mega-project underscores growing opportunities for lagging work and training

The Shell Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex is an under-construction ethylene cracker plant in Monaca, Pa., 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. First proposed in 2012 during the Obama administration, the facility is owned and operated by Shell Oil Co., the North American arm of Royal Dutch Shell.

Shell began site work in 2015, moving 7.2 million cubic yards of dirt, building new bridges and a new rail line, and completing a total relocation of PA Route 18. Docking and bulkhead facilities to be used during construction were then created, with construction on the plant itself beginning in November 2017. Work on the plant is expected to continue through the early part of this decade. As of today, an average of 4,500 workers are constructing the colossal facility, with a peak of 8,000 at several points.

As of today, an average of 4,500 workers are constructing the colossal facility, with a peak of 8,000 at several points.

The site will have four processing units (three of which will be polyethelene crackers and one an ethane cracker) as well as a natural gas power plant to support both the plant and the local electric grid, a 900-foot-long (270 m) cooling tower, a rail system with over 3,000 freight cars, numerous loading facilities for both trains and trucks, a water treatment plant and an office building to oversee operations.

Over 200 union sheet metal workers, the majority of whom come from Sheet Metal Local 12 in Pittsburgh, have been on hand to construct the massive complex. Many have been performing lagging work on the complex, as well as duct and siding work. Signatory contactors on the project include Limbach, PA Roofing, Great Arrow Builders, Phoenix Roofing, API, Aescit, McKamish and Jamar Company. Much of this came thanks to an extensive training program performed at Local 12 with the assistance of the International Training Institute (ITI).

For those unfamiliar with lagging work, it is the finishing material (steel or aluminum) used to cover many types of insulation, especially on the numerous large insulated flat surfaces in a power plant or industrial facility. There are key difference between lagging, a traditional jurisdiction of SMART sheet metal workers, and insulation work. The latter is the act of installing insulation or state of being insulated.

Lagging is the finishing material (steel or aluminum) used to cover many types of insulation, especially on surfaces such as boiler walls, flues, ducts, precipitators, selective catalytic reduction systems, bag houses, wind boxes and fans, among other items. Also known as cladding or sheet metal, lagging ranges in thickness from .021-inch and up and usually does not include a vapor barrier. The installation of lagging material on a union project is the jurisdictional work of SMART sheet metal workers.

The installation of lagging material on a union project is the jurisdictional work of SMART sheet metal workers.

On June 1, 2019, SMART entered into a memorandum of agreement with the Heat Frost and Insulators International Union to promote growth and eliminate jurisdictional disputes between both unions for lagging work. To highlight the importance of this work, SMART General President Joseph Sellers and the SMART General Executive Council assigned an international representative and an international organizer to establish a business model to secure new lagging work, as well as meet with the Insulators Union to ensure enforcement of the agreement. In February 2021, to answer the call from General President Sellers to aggressively pursue new work opportunities in this area, over 73 SMART locals assigned personnel to lead their local lagging efforts. These personnel were trained on new online tracking systems to identify and secure new work. In addition, enhanced “Strike Force Training” modules from the International Training Institute (ITI) were established for lagging work, including detailed proofs, material lists and cut sheets for locals to use in their training. The ITI program can customize trainings to be versatile and jobsite-specific to meet the demand for any new work opportunity that presents itself.

With the growth in new power plant and industrial work across North America, the agreement provides substantial new work opportunities for union sheet metal workers in this growing sector of the sheet metal trade.

Currently, SMART SM Local 265 is using the customized ITI strike force training program, with ITI’s James Shoulders, Adam Smith and Jeff Peterson training 12 members on the round and large insulated flat lagging work for an API project at Jackson Power in Elwood, Ill.

“This is a promising growth area within our industry,” said SMART SM Local 265 Business Representative Kevin Glass, “that will yield a tremendous number of work hours for our sisters and brothers working in the industry.”

General President Joseph Sellers underscored that the work is a high priority across the international union.

“This is work that belongs to the members of this union” said Sellers, “and it is time to capitalize on this work and secure these work hours for our members.”

SMART Local 88 Organizer Featured in AFL-CIO Newsletter

SMART Local 88 Organizer Al Lopez was featured earlier this month in the weekly newsletter of the Western Region of the AFL-CIO. Below is the full text of the newsletter’s profile. Congrats Brother Lopez!

Al Lopez is a member and organizer for International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 88 and has dedicated many years to being politically active in fighting to elect worker champions, in addition to his staff duties. He has served as a captain for labor programs since 2006 and now serves as a local union coordinator for the Southern Nevada Central Labor Council. He is also a founding member of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement chapter in Las Vegas that was chartered in 2020.

Everyone knows Lopez for his support of campaign program volunteers; and on days he isn’t knocking on doors, you can find him behind the local’s massive barbecue grill.

Everyone knows Lopez for his support of campaign program volunteers; and on days he isn’t knocking on doors, you can find him behind the local’s massive barbecue grill. “I’ve put in well over 14 years of cooking ‘sheet metal hamburgers’ (as volunteers refer to them), hot dogs, chicken and carne asada for candidates and for charities like St. Jude’s Ranch for Children. Local 88 retirees deserve recognition for the fine craftsmanship it took to build our beast of a barbecue,” Lopez said.




SMART Statement on Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework

Washington, DC—Today, the White House announced its support for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, a $1.2 trillion investment in physical infrastructure.  In response, SMART issued the following statement.

“Today’s announcement is an important breakthrough towards tackling our country’s crumbling infrastructure. We look forward to continuing to work with Congress and the Biden administration to finalize this agreement and pass a broader package that encompasses all elements of the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan. By working on these two packages simultaneously, we believe we will meet the needs of our country, create good paying union jobs, combat climate change, and revitalize the economy equitably.

We stand committed to fulfilling President Biden’s mission of making our federal government a model employer by ensuring that every dollar allocated towards infrastructure complies with strong labor standards that guarantees good jobs and worker protections. This is an essential action the federal government must take to achieve a positive return on investment for taxpayers and our communities.”



Helmets to Hardhats Helped More Than 2300 Veterans Enter Building Trades in 2020

Despite a rise in economic insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic, Helmets to Hardhats assisted its construction industry affiliates in placing 2,324 military service members and veterans into building trades registered apprenticeship programs in 2020, according to new data released by the organization.

SMART is an active participant in Helmets to Hardhats – a national, nonprofit program that connects transitioning active-duty military service members, veterans and reservists with skilled training and career opportunities in the building trades.

“It underscores that there is a solid line from the military to the building trades, specifically in SMART, but with all the building trades,” said SMART Director of Organizing Darrell Roberts. “And, despite the pandemic, that line did not break.”

“There is a solid line from the military to the building trades, specifically in SMART, but with all the building trades. And, despite the pandemic, that line did not break.”

– SMART Director of Organizing Darrell Roberts

Roberts served in the U.S. Navy for four years, the Army National Guard for six years and is the former executive director of Helmets to Hardhats.

Helmets to Hardhats announced its total number of placements – or Known Successful Transitions (KSTs) data – for calendar year 2020 in May 2021. Since its inception in 2003, the organization has helped more than 38,000 military service members and veterans transition to the building trades, setting each of them on a pathway toward a middle-class, family-sustaining career in construction.

“This new data represents the collective efforts of all building trades unions and their signatory contractors to provide career opportunities for veterans and is a shining example of their commitment to this mission, even in terrible economic times,” said Helmets to Hardhats Executive Director David Porter.

“Helmets to Hardhats serves as a bridge for military service men and women in search of a secure career once their time in the armed forces comes to an end,” added Porter,. “These opportunities help ease the transition back into civilian life as they launch a new career.”



Local 66 Teams Up With Girl Scouts

SMART SM Local 66 (Washington State) member Johnny Cassanova joined his daughter Olivia’s Girl Scout of America troop to give them a presentation about the sheet metal industry.

SJ Alexander and Vanessa Carman from Local 66 came out to teach the young girls about math and sheet metal, while helping them earn their “STEM” badge.

Working with toothpicks and marshmallows the troop built 3D shapes and were explained how math and geometry is used in sheet metal trades. They ended their event by building a set of dad and daughter toolboxes. The scout leader let them know that this was an inspiring event for these young girls who had not been introduced to the trades before.

According to Carman, “we hope to continue to introduce young women to a fulfilling career in sheet metal, as we look to pass down what we’ve learned to a new generation of sheet metal workers.”  She added that “to be successful at outreach, it’s important to introduce the trade to children when they are young and include it in their aspirations for a future career.”


SMART Statement on E.O. 14017 America’s Supply Chains

Washington, DC­—On Tuesday, the Biden Administration released a report in response to Executive Order (E.O.) 14017 “America’s Supply Chains.” The report outlines immediate actions the Administration will take to strengthen American supply chains to promote economic security, national security, and good-paying, union jobs in the United States.

The International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) issued the following response:

“The Biden Administration continues to demonstrate that it prioritizes the needs of American workers and their families. We value the Administration’s commitment to revitalizing domestic competitiveness and strengthening supply chains to promote economic security and good-paying, union jobs here at home. SMART members are committed to helping jump start manufacturing activity in the U.S. and we look forward to continuing to work with the Biden Administration to strengthen American supply chains, create union jobs and push for the passage of the American Jobs Plan.”



Save the Date: 2022 Partners In Progress Conference

Website Headline: Save the Date – 2022 PinP Conference


Informz Summary: The brand-new Resorts World Las Vegas will serve as the setting on March 1-2, 2022 for SMACNA and SMART to come together for the 2022 Partners in Progress Conference…


Article Summary: Building the Future Together is the theme of this must-attend event for all SMACNA member contractors, chapter executives, and future leaders.



The brand-new Resorts World Las Vegas will serve as the setting on March 1-2, 2022 for SMACNA and SMART to come together for the 2022 Partners in Progress Conference! This bi-annual conference will once again foster an environment for both labor and management to expand on their current relationships, share relevant information, and continue building the future together.


This fully collaborative event will feature top-notch keynote speakers, valuable educational sessions where you will learn innovative strategies to work together for a stronger and mutually beneficial future, and most importantly, numerous opportunities to network with both your SMACNA colleagues and SMART counterparts where ideas can be shared.


Registration for the 2020 Partners in Progress Conference officially opens September 8, 2021, and additional information regarding the Conference is available at the official 2022 PinP Conference website.


Additionally, you can receive updates on the 2022 Partners in Progress Conference on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.