The North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) and CPWR-The Center for Construction Research and Training released a new national standard for infectious disease exposure control practices for U.S. construction sites. These guidelines aim to prevent disease, disability and death caused by infectious disease exposure in lieu of federal action by OSHA.
The new national framework outlines planning and implementation elements with strong minimum standards, screening policies and the requirement of a comprehensive employer exposure control plan comprised of control measures, symptom checking, social distancing, training, hygiene and decontamination procedures.
“The COVID-19 pandemic clearly underscores the need for and value of a strong, adaptable and multi-purpose exposure control standard to prevent the spread of infectious diseases on U.S. construction sites,” said Sean McGarvey, President of NABTU. “Amid growing concerns across various industries regarding workplace safety in lieu of federal actions, the building trades are trying to do our best to protect our members and contractors on the job, and – for that matter- everyone in the construction industry.”
“With the broad and complex challenges from infectious diseases today, providing a framework of exposure control practices is critical. COVID-19 has not only raised awareness about the emergence and spread of infectious diseases, it has also provided the opportunity to advance their control,” said Chris Trahan Cain, Executive Director of CPWR-The Center for Construction Research and Training. “Given the current pandemic and the probability of future infectious disease outbreaks, this national framework will help the construction industry advance functions to better prevent and control infectious diseases and improve health on worksites.”
“In many places across the country, our unions, contractors, and project owners have already implemented these protocols,” McGarvey said. “The industry has been calling for a single national standard, and this is a product we highly recommend for owners, contractors, union members and all of our industry. We hope these guidelines will raise the bar to prevent and control infectious threats and improve safety and health management practices for not just construction, but all industries.”
In the fourth episode of Talking SMART, we continue our focus on the COVID-19 pandemic, its impact on our members and their communities, and how SMART is mobilizing across North America to help members stay informed and be safe at home and on the job during this crisis.
Our first guest is Steve Dodd, SMART’s director of government and legislative affairs. Steve addresses emergency stimulus legislation that passed in the United States, as well as its impact on SMART members and their families.
We also talk with Chris Paswisty, an International Representative for SMART sheet metal workers and former business manager of Local 30 in Toronto, Ontario. He discusses the Canadian response to the pandemic and steps members and locals north of the border are taking to protect themselves.
Our third guest is Tommy Fisher, a 39-year SMART member, and longtime International Representative from Mobile, Alabama. He services SMART sheet metal members employed at locations affiliated with the Metal Trades Department of the AFL-CIO. He discusses the work SMART members do in the shipyard industry, how these worksites and employers are responding to the pandemic, and the current situation in the state of Alabama.
Our last guest is Tom Wiant, a 33-year sheet metal worker and financial secretary-treasurer at Local 33, which covers northern Ohio and West Virginia. Tom talks with us about how his local has been able to procure thousands of KN95 masks to protect members in his region, as well as how Local 33 has contributed to SMART’s national initiative to produce and donate metal nose piece strips to volunteers making face masks for health care workers and first responders.
In addition, listen for the open mic segment at the end of this episode, where General President Joseph Sellers answers questions from members about important topics facing them and their families.
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today announced an interim enforcement response plan for the coronavirus pandemic. The response plan provides instructions and guidance to OSHA area offices and compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) for handling coronavirus-related complaints, referrals and severe illness reports.
During the coronavirus outbreak, OSHA area offices will utilize their inspection resources to fulfill mission essential functions and protect workers exposed to the disease. The response plan contains interim procedures that allow flexibility and discretion for field offices to maximize OSHA’s impact in securing safe workplaces in this evolving environment.
“OSHA is committed to protecting the health and safety of America’s workers during this challenging time in our nation’s history,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt said. “Today’s guidance outlines commonsense procedures for investigating complaints related to the coronavirus, while also ensuring the safety of workers, employers and inspectors.”
The response plan outlines procedures for addressing reports of workplace hazards related to the coronavirus. Fatalities and imminent danger exposures related to the coronavirus will be prioritized for on-site inspections. The response plan contains procedures and sample documentation for CSHOs to use during coronavirus-related inspections. Workers requesting inspections, complaining of coronavirus exposure or reporting illnesses may be protected under one or more whistleblower statutes and will be informed of their protections from retaliation.
This memorandum will take effect immediately and remain in effect until further notice. It is intended to be time-limited to the current public health crisis. Check OSHA’s webpage at www.osha.gov/coronavirus frequently for updates.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment and assure work-related benefits and rights.
Below is a letter from Joe Delacrus, a Local 40 SMART Sheet Metal Worker in Groton, CT. His employer was asked by a local nurse to make the aluminum strips used on N95 masks so they could sew them in the cotton masks being made by volunteers around the Country. They are looking to separate orders by Zip code and direct first responders asking for strips to the Local Union in that area. Attached is the description of the part that we posted a video of on our Hillery Company Facebook to show other folks how we are making the parts.
To all SMART Union members,
I am employed at Hillery Company in Groton Connecticut and am a member of Local 40 Sheet Metal Workers Union. Hillery was asked by a local nurse to make the aluminum strips used on N95 masks so they could sew them in the cotton masks being made by volunteers around the Country . I posted a picture showing a small box of strips on March 24th and it has since gone viral. Hillery has take over 1,900 orders and shipped 500 totaling over 40,000 parts. We contacted our Business Manager (Dave Roche) and Business Agent (John Nimmons) asking for the Union to help and they filled 18 order sending out roughly 4,000 parts. Orders are continuing to pour in faster than Hillery can fill them, and we are reaching out to the International for help.
It is my hope that we can separate orders by Zip code and direct the folks asking for strips to the Local Union in that area. We need all hands on deck as this effort is too big for a small company in Connecticut. Attached is the description of the part that we posted a video of on our Hillery Company Facebook to show other folks how we are making the parts.
We have received requests from Hospitals and small sewing groups from every State and Canada. If we can connect folks with signatory manufacturers in their zip code the masks will go directly to folks in that immediate area. The Union has the infrastructure to handle this request and could mobilize this idea as early as Monday morning. Time is of the essence as orders for first responders will go unfilled as we cannot possibly fill them. It is my hope that SMART will share this email with the leaders of every local and send me the contacts. Our volunteers will match the requester with the closest contractor and ask they share this on their Facebook.
Hillery started a Go Fund Me to offset the price of shipping and had material suppliers donate the sheets of aluminum. We have also reached out to our customers asking for donations and have collected roughly $4,000.00 which seems to be covering the shipping. Please beware of folks asking for high quantities as we found some are trying to package an sell them.
Hillery copied the part from an N95 mask, but made it shorter to get more parts out of a sheet. The local seamstress we first gave the parts to gave us a sample mask and the strip works great, but could be different sizes depending on how you are cutting them. One manufacturer is using the drops from a .250” x 3” parting tool and that works great. Hillery sheared one 48” x 96” sheet in (16) 3” x 96” strips then tacked a spacer in two spots allowing us to cut 16 parts per hit. I am sure someone will have better ways and I encourage folks to post it on their website.
This is a grass roots effort and most of the folks asking for the strips are sharing stories about their loved ones going to work without protection. I am asking all of my brothers and sisters to join Local 40 in our mission to help us get past this Covid-19 catastrophe.
CDC guidelines state that employers should do the following to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
reduce transmission among employees,
maintain healthy business operations, and
maintain a healthy work environment.
As transportation workers are considered to be essential workers, even in a time of national emergency, making them exempt from stay-at-home orders issued by local, state and federal officials, it is paramount that these guidelines be followed so that the health of workers, co-workers, their families and the general public is not jeopardized by employers’ failure to follow CDC protocols.
If CDC measures are not being followed, workers are encouraged to report what they consider to be violations of CDC protocols.
Your union needs reports of what is actually happening in the field. If you are aware of an employee who has tested positive with coronavirus, or if a carrier is refusing to provide a clean and sanitized workplace as well as supplies for sanitation, please let us know by using this form.
On March 18, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law, marking the second major legislative initiative to address COVID-19 (the first was signed on March 6 and provided emergency funding relief for domestic and global efforts). The Families First Act addresses the domestic outbreak, focused on paid sick leave.
The Act takes effect April 2, and provisions run through Dec. 31, 2020.
Below is how the Act will effect SMART members and their families. Please note that the sick leave portion of this legislation only effects employers with less than 500 workers.
Two Week Paid Sick Leave For Care of Family Members
Who gets it?Workers with family members affected by coronavirus and those whose children’s schools have closed. The number of people affected by school closures has so far run into many millions.
What does it pay? These workers will receive up to two-thirds of their pay, though that benefit is limited to $200 a day. That would cover two-thirds of the typical daily wage of someone earning up to about $75,000 annually.
How long does it last? This benefit lasts up to a total of 12 weeks, including two weeks of sick leave. Note that many schools could be closed through the end of the year.
How does this effect employees who work under multi-employer bargaining agreements? Under multi-employer bargaining agreements, employers may satisfy their obligations regarding the paid sick leave and extended FMLA provisions by making contributions to a multi-employer fund that permits such contributions and allows for employees to obtain these benefits through the fund. If such an arrangement is not in place, individual employers are still obligated to provide paid sick leave and extended FMLA benefits under the legislation.
Two Week Paid Sick Leave for Ill Or Quarantined Workers
Who gets it? Only people being tested or treated for coronavirus or have been diagnosed with it. Also, eligible would be those who have been told by a doctor or government official to stay home because of exposure or symptoms.
What does it pay? Payments will be capped at $511 a day, roughly what someone making $133,000 earns annually.
Who pays for it?According to the IRS, employers will receive 100% reimbursement for paid leave. Health insurance costs are also included in the credit. Employers face no payroll tax liability for these leave hours paid. An immediate dollar-for-dollar tax offset against payroll taxes will be provided. Where a refund is owed, the IRS will send the refund as quickly as possible.
Ty Dragoo: On Making A Difference By Becoming A Convention Delegate
Ty Dragoo is the Kansas State Legislative Director for SMART TD.
From roll calls and speeches to flags and ticker tape, the national conventions are usually conventional pep rallies for the two major parties. But this year, the Democratic and Republican delegates and the rules that govern their gatherings matter.
On the left, the democratic field is full of candidates.
On the right, Donald Trump is the apparent nominee in the Republican convention.
I have been a national delegate to the 2012 and 2016 Democratic conventions for the State of Kansas. I was first approached about running as a delegate when elected to the labor committee of the Kansas Democratic Party. I quickly realized that this was an excellent opportunity to advance SMART’s legislative priorities. The notion that we, as labor, could have a seat at the table was paramount.
After all, it’s the delegates at the convention — not the voters back home — who have the last word on the nominees.
Any time there’s a closely contested nomination, it does come as a surprise to primary voters that the delegates are the ones who ultimately make the decision. That is why we need as many people in the labor movement involved in this process as possible.
How exactly the delegates do this is complicated. Here are the answers to some questions you may have had about the nominating process.
What is a delegate?
Delegates are the individuals who vote for their party’s presidential nominees at this summer’s conventions. The 2020 Democratic National Convention will be held from July 13th to 16th, 2020, at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Since by tradition, the convention of the party currently holding the White House is held after that of the opposing party, the 2020 Republican National Convention will be held on August 24th to 27th, 2020, at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Who gets to be a delegate?
Most delegates are grassroots party activists who campaign to represent their congressional district or their state at large. But both parties also set aside a certain number of delegate slots for “party insiders.”
On the GOP side, these are each state’s party chair and two Republican National Committee members. The committee members — 112 in all — also make the rules that govern the national convention.
Under the Democratic Party’s system, about one-sixth of the delegates are party officials, members of the DNC, all the Democrats in Congress, all Democratic governors, and distinguished party leaders (such as all former and current presidents and vice presidents). Unlike the Republican party leaders, these 700 or so Democratic superdelegates aren’t bound to primary results and can vote for whomever they wish after the first round of balloting.
How do you become a delegate?
The rules for delegate selection are complex, varying not only by party but by state, by year, and even by congressional districts.
Most states stipulate that elected delegates should be reflective of primary results. The best place to start is to ask your State Legislative Director or State party.
Just how committed are the delegates?
All Democratic delegates, except the superdelegates, are pledged to vote at the convention for their state’s or district’s winner. On the whole, the GOP delegates are also supposed to reflect the will of their state’s voters, but the rules give them some leeway.
Why is it important as a union member to become a delegate?
Here are a few of the reasons SMART wants YOU to serve as a delegate at the national conventions.
The parties need our economic class. States strive to reflect their diversity in the makeup of their delegations. SMART’s membership is comprised of good-paying middle-class jobs, making union members a natural fit.
It’s a powerful way to shape labor policy. Members’ voices deserve to be heard. As a delegate, you’ll help draft the party platform, including making labor a central issue in the upcoming election.
You could end up picking the party’s nominee. If nobody wins in the first ballot, delegates are free to shift their votes to the (pro-labor) candidate of their choice.
Getting to see democracy in action, up close, as a party VIP, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most of us.
Over 300 SMART Local 104 sheet metal workers employed at Simpson Strong-Tie in Stockton, California have been on strike since Thursday, September 5th, 2019. The men and women behind the production of Simpson Strong-Tie’s beloved fasteners, joints and other products are fighting for respect and dignity at work. Please share the social media post in this link to support these members.
Delegates to the Second SMART General Convention have elected by acclamation Joseph Sellers, Jr. as General President and Joseph Powell as General Secretary-Treasurer on August 14, 2019.
Sellers is a second-generation sheet metal worker who began his apprenticeship in 1980 at Local 19 in Philadelphia. In 2002, after serving as a Business Representative for two years, he became Local 19’s President and Business Manager. Sellers was elected to the international leadership as 11th General Vice President in 2009. The General Executive Council elected him to serve as the union’s General Secretary-Treasurer (GST) in July 2011, and he was unanimously re-elected as GST by delegates to the first SMART General Convention in August 2014. Sellers became SMART’s General President May 1, 2015 upon the retirement of then General President Joseph Nigro.
He instituted programs directed at providing better representation for a diversifying workforce as well as a focus on positioning the Union for a new era of technological change that will affect the sheet metal and transportation industries in the years to come.
Joseph Powell, Assistant to the General President and former Business Manager/Financial Secretary-Treasurer of Local 206 in San Diego, CA, was elected General Secretary-Treasurer on August 14, 2019. He started his career in 1988 as a Local 206 apprentice. He is a strong proponent of training and education in the sheet metal industry to stay in front of a changing industry. From 2004 to 2012, Powell served as Business Manager and Financial Secretary-Treasurer of his home local. After serving on the SMART General Executive Council starting in 2012, Powell became Assistant to the General President in 2015. He will succeed General Secretary-Treasurer Richard McClees, also a Local 206 member and former Business Manager.
Jeremy Ferguson, a member of SMART Transportation Division Local 313 in Grand Rapids, MI, was elected Sunday to serve as SMART TD President. After serving in the U.S. Army and attending college, he started railroading in 1994 as a conductor on CSX and was promoted to engineer in 1995. At the first SMART Transportation Division convention in 2014, Ferguson was elected to the position of vice president. Ferguson also served as special representative and organizer starting in 1997 and most recently was appointed to the SMART General Executive Council in July.
They will be joined by members of the SMART General Executive Council from all sectors of the Union across the United States and Canada.
On June 4th, SMART General President Joseph Sellers and Assistant to the General President Joseph Powell visited Local 19 members working at the Penn First rack building facility and Wm. J. Donovan’s thermaduct shop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Both men wanted to witness SMART sheet metal workers doing what they do best—fabricate the highest-quality HVAC products anywhere and hear directly from members about their concerns and ideas regarding the state of the Union.
The first stop was the rack assembly facility that Local 19 signatory contractor Southland has set up in West Philadelphia. GP Sellers and Powell toured the facility along with Local 19 President Gary Masino and Assistant Business Manager Jerry Gontz. The shop is housed in what used to be a massive steel plant with plenty of room for all the trades to work. SSM Industries is on site with 10 members working to assemble the duct components in the racks.
Brother Ed Sparks, the Local 19 steward on site, explained how the installation process worked much like an assembly line to maximize efficiency and quality. The racks in question are mechanical rack systems that range in size from 11 feet by 5 feet to 18 feet by 8 feet. Each trade assembles and places components in the racks in a specific position as per the jobsite prints. The wheeled racks get rolled between the different sections of the shop. The sheet metal workers assemble the duct that is specific to each rack, then the insulator wraps the duct that is then it is placed in the rack. After that, the rack is rolled over to one of two fitting companies on site and the fitter adds their pipe, as does the plumber. After the top is welded on to the rack, it is held in storage until needed in the field.
When the racks are sent out to the field, they are loaded onto trucks with the wheels still attached, then transported to the Penn First Jobsite and craned up to the floor where they are to be installed. When reaching the floor, they are rolled into place, raised into position and hung where all the mechanical components line up with the components in the previous rack within the ceiling space. All that is left is to connect the two racks with a filler piece and the rest of the pieces that tie into the system. After the racks are hung, the wheels are removed and sent back to the shop to restart the process. Brother Farrell mentioned that this method of construction has been very beneficial out in the field. Not only does it facilitate a quick install, it also takes much of the staging materials onsite out of the equation. Penn First is the first project in Local 19’s territory to utilize this racking method and it has been very successful so far on the Penn First Project.
Next, the group headed over to Wm. J. Donovan for a short discussion and presentation of how Thermaduct is fabricated and how it will benefit our industry into the future. Shear Facts had a previous article on the new exterior duct product in 2018. Since that article, Wm. J. Donovan has fabricated numerous Thermaduct systems for other signatory contractors and have even installed a few itself. A group of Wm. J. Donovan’s upper management along with shop Foreman Mike DelGiorno and shop Steward Fred Stock met with SMART officials and walked them through the process of fabricating, the many benefits to the product including that the systems (when installed properly) are water tight, will last through all the elements and are a third of the weight compared to traditional exterior double-walled duct systems.
After the brief introduction to the product, the group headed to the fabrication shop across the street. When walking through the door it looks like any other fab shop, with material organized and stacked. But farther into the space, you start to notice this shop isn’t like many others in our trade. Straight duct and fittings are there throughout, but they’re a bit different than what most sheet metal workers are accustomed to with a poly-vinyl coating on the outside and what looks to be foil on the inside. Toward the back wall, you’ll see what looks like a plasma table with a long tube running from the mechanical arm to a canister. Over to the left there seems to be what resembles a brake. So as far as equipment is concerned, this shop doesn’t need much to function.
Local 19 members Brandon Steigerwald and Matt Watkins were on hand to give a tour on how Thermaduct is produced. Directly next to the table where the sheets are cut out there is a stack of Thermaduct sheets. On closer inspection, one can see that the sheets are essentially solid core insulation (similar to roof insulation) with a polyvinyl side while the other side has a foil material. Steigerwald and Watkins take a sheet over to the table, set the coordinates and let the machine do its work. The arm moves around and begins to route lines into the material on the foil side and then proceeds to cut an outline around the entire half section. After the machine finishes the process, Steigerwald takes the piece over to what is known as a thermal brake, which is used for bending the pieces just cut by heating up to anywhere between 325 and 375 degrees (depending on the surrounding temperature) and melting the vinyl coating on the material to where it is pliable enough to bend the piece into place.
After the sections are bended on the thermal brake, they are connected on each end, a flange product is affixed, stiffening rods added (as needed) and all seams are caulked. When installing in the field, an added layer of vinyl is added to surround where the connections are to ensure the product is completely water tight.
There are also added benefits to Thermaduct over traditional exterior systems aside from the weight and waterproof features. Because how it is constructed there is little to no deflection when the system becomes live. This means the duct isn’t moving or shifting as it would with a traditional system. This is a benefit because typically when there is defection, that movement of the duct (in or out) may loosen the insulation on the inside, with a possibility of the insulation finding its way into the airsteam.
The Thermaduct system is self-contained where deflection isn’t an issue, and these systems can withstand pressures of 10 in (plus or minus) water gauge. Wm. J. Donovan is a licensed fabricator of Thermaduct systems, serving Pennsylvania (east of Pittsburgh), South Jersey, parts of North Jersey, Delaware and the tip of Maryland.
The future possibilities for the next generation of sheet metal workers is seemingly endless with constant new technologies emerging every year. Our members will be there at the forefront of every innovation, ready to learn every new method and skill needed to continue to be the most knowledgeable, safe and valuable workers in the construction industry.