NEMIC recognizes Local 105, 88 with industry awards

Published: September 10, 2020

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.”