As part of the Belonging and Excellence for ALL (BE4ALL) Committee’s fall challenge, Anthony LaBeau, an eight-year member out of Local 104 (Northern California) recently shared how his life changed when he joined SMART:
“I was 24, working dead-end restaurant jobs for six years when I first heard about any trade unions. I went home and researched anything I could find about the trades. I narrowed it down to pipe fitters and sheet metal, and my decision was made after I attended a trade fair where I met the sheet metal workers and we made mini tool trays. I was instantly intrigued and had this feeling that I was born to do this. After I went through the application process, I was called into action as a service technician and immediately started work installing and servicing residential equipment in track and custom homes.
“It was a bit of a culture shock coming from a completely different industry, but my union family put me at ease. I had no construction skills, no college education, and not a dollar to my name when I started, but the promise of on-the-job training, raises every six months, benefits, and a great retirement was all I needed to continue on this path. Once I fully learned about everything this trade consists of, I decided to pursue further education and become a building trades sheet metal worker.
“I made a lot of quality friends on the jobs and in the classes I’ve attended in the last eight years and am scheduled to be a journeyperson next month. Since starting in 2015 I’ve been able to support a family of my own and live comfortably while doing it. If I had never attended that workshop or met another sheet metal union member, I may never be where I am today. Building America with the quality craftsmanship that we learn and providing for my wife and two kids brings me the most pride and give me the greatest sense of fulfillment.”
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