Leadership

GENERAL PRESIDENT JOSEPH SELLERS, JR.

Joseph Sellers, Jr., has risen steadily in his 35 years as an industry professional and union official. A second-generation sheet metal worker, his background includes managing the union and its affiliates at every level as well as many years as a leader in education. Sellers’ foundation in the labor movement reflects values learned from his father, whose deep commitment to the union sheet metal industry spanned 55 years as a member and 30 years as a local union officer. Sellers started his apprenticeship in 1980 at Local 19 in Philadelphia and became a journeyman four years later. He was elected to the local’s Executive Board in 1994 and was appointed to be Training Coordinator in 1996. In 2002, after serving as a Business Representative for two years, he became Local 19’s President and Business Manager. In August 2009, Sellers was elected to the international leadership as 11th General Vice President. The General Executive Council elected him to serve as the union’s General Secretary-Treasurer (GST) effective July 1, 2011, and, after finalization of the merger of the Sheet Metal Workers and United Transportation Unions, 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. During his tenure as an officer at Local 19, Joe also held a number of important union and industry posts. He was president of many groups, including the Pennsylvania State and New Jersey State Councils of Sheet Metal Workers; the Mechanical Trades District Council of Delaware Valley; the Metropolitan Association of Presidents and Business Representatives; and the board of directors for the National Energy Management Institute (NEMI). He also was Secretary/Treasurer of the Mechanical and Allied Crafts Council of New Jersey. As SMART General Secretary-Treasurer, Sellers led special campaigns to increase outreach and awareness for pension and health care issues, including compliance with the Pension Protection Act and Affordable Care Act. He has held several positions with the AFL-CIO and Building and Construction Trades Department at the national, state, and local levels. He currently serves as chairman of the union’s National Pension Fund and is a trustee for several other national pension and health funds.

GENERAL SECRETARY TREASURER RICHARD MCCLEES

Richard McClees has been working in the industry for over 40 years after starting as a production worker in Local 206 in San Diego. Since that time he built a career that saw him immersed in every facet of the sheet metal industry while h held virtually every position at every level of our union. McClees followed his father, a proud 65 year member, and two brothers into the trade – all of whom served as models of hard work and commitment. After his time as a production worker in the sign industry, McClees became a building trade apprenticeship in 1970. He then became a journeyman four years later. In 1979 he became an instructor for the local JATC, where he taught evening classes for 20 years. In 1994 when he was elected to serve as a Business Representative for Local 206. In addition to his duties as Business Representative, he was appointed to serve as Training Coordinator in 1996. He served in both roles until 2000 when the members of Local 206 elected him as the Local 206 Business Manager/Financial Secretary-Treasurer. During his time as Business Manager, he served as President of the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council, Executive Board member of both the Western States Council of Sheet Metal Workers and the San Diego AFL-CIO Council and trustee on health and pension trust funds. Brother McClees came to the International in 2004 when he was selected to serve in the position of Chief International Representative for the Sheet Metal Workers. In 2006, he was appointed to serve as Assistant to the General President/Chief of Staff where he oversaw a large segment of the day to day operations of the International. In addition McClees currently serves as chairman of the Local Unions and Councils Pension Plan, a trustee of the National Pension Fund, administrator of the Sheet Metal Workers Scholarship Fund as well as a trustee and member of numerous other national funds and committees.

SMART TRANSPORTATION PRESIDENT JOHN PREVISICH

John Previsich is the president of the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, formerly the United Transportation Union. Previsich began his railroad career on the Southern Pacific Railroad, where he commenced work as a train service operations employee in San Francisco, Calif. He later transferred to engine service and achieved certification as both a railroad conductor and locomotive engineer. Previsich started doing work as a local union officer in the mid-1980s. Thereafter, he moved into a system-wide position as a general chairperson in the early 1990s, followed by his election to International Vice President in 2007. He was re-elected in 2011, elevated to the position of assistant president in 2012 and assumed the responsibilities of the general secretary and treasurer position on Jan. 1, 2013. He was elevated to the position of president effective Oct. 1, 2013. During the course of his career, Previsich has advocated on behalf of his members in mergers and consolidations in the rail and airline industries, 13(c) transactions, divestitures, national and local contract negotiations and countless arbitrations and mediations, securing and defending collective bargaining agreements on properties large and small. Having a special interest in transportation-industry safety issues, Previsich is the SMART Transportation Division representative on the Federal Railroad Administration’s Rail Safety Advisory Committee and has served on numerous sub-committees associated with RSAC. In addition, he is a Cabinet–level appointee to the National Freight Advisory Committee, a group that reports directly to the Secretary of Transportation on MAP-21, a program charged with assisting in the development of administration policy on a national freight plan for the 21st century.

GENERAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL MEMBERS

RONALD WHATLEY, FIRST GENERAL VICE PRESIDENT Ronald H. Whatley has been the Business  Manager/Financial Secretary-Treasurer of Local 85 in Atlanta, GA since February 1, 2005. He served his apprenticeship at George W. Rice Sheet Metal, Inc. from 1972 to 1976 and continued working there until  1980. He represented Local 85 in the  National Contest in 1976 as a 4th year apprentice. He worked for Lewis and Lambert from 1980 to  1981, BHW Sheet Metal 1981 to 1982, Strickland Sheet Metal 1983, and R.F. Knox,  Co. from 1983 until 1994 when he was elected Business Representative of Local  85. He has been a member of Local 85 since 1972 including his  apprenticeship; an OSHA Instructor from 1981-1987; apprentice instructor from 1984-1995 and an ITI Instructor at Ohio State University 1990-1995.  He and his wife, Susan, of thirty-five years have  four children and three grandchildren. He was ordained as a deacon in 1978.

DAVID ZIMMERMANN, SECOND GENERAL VICE PRESIDENT David C. Zimmermann, President and Business Manager of Local 36 in St. Louis, Missouri, was elected to the International’s General Council by the GEC in 2010. Brother Zimmermann was born on Labor Day in Denver, Colorado, coincidentally, in the same city where the 2010 Business Agents Conference, where he was appointed, was held. He started his apprenticeship in Local 36 on April 30,1973. He was elected to the Executive Board in June 1982, serving until January 1987, when he was elected Business Representative. He was elected to his current position in March 1999. The Zimmermann family has a long history with Local 36 through three generations. His grandfather, Julius Zimmermann, was Business Agent and his uncles, Gene and Melvin (who was also on the General Executive Council from 1974 to 1988) served as President and Business Manager.

PATRICK C. LANDGRAF, THIRD GENERAL VICE PRESIDENT Brother Landgraf is Business Manager of Local 18, which represents the proud members from across the State of Wisconsin. He started his apprenticeship in July 1979, receiving a certificate of completion in 1985. He has served as a union steward from 1991 to 1998. In July 1998, he became a fulltime organizer for Local 18. In November 2002, he became a fulltime Business Agent  and became President/Business Manager on July 1, 2008. He currently serves as chairman of the state union health fund and is a trustee of the Fox Valley health fund. Brother Landgraf is also President of the North Central States Council. He is on the executive board of the following entities: the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO and the Building Advantage Labor Management Council of Milwaukee.

DEREK EVANS, FOURTH GENERAL VICE PRESIDENT Brother Derek Evans, Business Manager and Financial Secretary-Treasurer of Local 540, South Central Ontario, Canada, was appointed by the SMWIA’s General Executive Council to serve as 11th General Vice President, effective November 1. His career spans a 27-year period, beginning with his admission as a production worker on July 1, 1983. He became a steward in his shop shortly thereafter. In 1989, he was elected Warden and has served in his current position since 1991, having been elected in six successive elections. Brother Evans has also held the position of Vice President of the Ontario Sheet Metal Workers and Roofers Conference since 1991. He was Vice President for Canada on the Production Workers Council of the SMWIA from 1997 to 2000 and Secretary-Treasurer of the SMWIA’s Production Workers and Sign Council from 2000 to the present.

JOHN HELAK, FIFTH GENERAL VICE PRESIDENT John Helak, Business Manager / FST of Local 71, Buffalo, New York, was appointed to SMART’s General Executive Council as a General Vice President, effective August 14, 2013.   Brother Helak began his career in the sheet metal industry as an apprentice in 1978.  He served as a benefits trustee from 1992-1994 and E-board member from March 1995 until his appointment as an Organizer in June1995. He was elected as Business Representative in 1997, serving in that position until his election as Business Manager /FST in 2003. John served as a trustee of the Niagara County Building trades from 1998 to 2003 and a Trustee of the Buffalo  Building Trades from 2003 to present.  In 2011, he was appointed to the Best Practices Committee and in 2012 was elected President of the Metropolitan Association.

ARTHUR TOLENTINO, SIXTH GENERAL VICE PRESIDENT A graduate of Ohio State University, Brother Arthur Tolentino commenced his career in the sheet metal industry as an apprentice with Au’s Plumbing in 1986. From 1992 through 1997, he served as an instructor for the Hawaii Joint Apprenticeship Committee for the Sheet Metal Industry. He was appointed shop steward in 1994 and served through 2002, when he became a Local 293 organizer.He served as a Labor Representative on the Hawaii Joint Apprenticeship Committee beginning in March 2000 and became Local 293 Business Representative/President in January 2003, along with becoming a Labor Trustee for the Hawaii Sheet Metal Workers’ Trust Fund. Currently, he presides as the Fund Chairman.  A member of the Hawaii Building & Construction Trades Council since his election as Local 293 Business Manager in 2007, Tolentino became Building and Construction Trades Treasurer in 2009. In 2010 he began serving as a commissioner on the city and county of Honolulu’s Planning Commission. Prior to his appointment as SMART’s Tenth General Vice President, he served as a Trustee on the National Energy Management Institute Committee (NEMIC) since January 2013.  Besides his involvement in numerous community outreach programs, Brother Tolentino involves himself with fishing, hunting, cooking, off-road driving, coin and stamp collecting.

ROCCO TERRANOVA, SEVENTH GENERAL VICE PRESIDENT A member of Sheet Metal Local 73 for 36 years, Brother Rocco Terranova started his career in sheet metal as an apprentice from 1978 to 1982 with Dessent Sheet Metal. His working experience in the trade spans many roles, having worked as journeyman, foreman, and superintendent. Prior to being elected as President and Business Manager of his home local, he was elected Union Trustee from 1997 to 2000 and served as an organizer from 2000 through 2004, and as a delegate to the Chicago Federation of Labor. Then in July 2004 he was elected Business Agent and served through July 2009, when he was elected Local 73 President and Business Manager. Terranova currently serves on the Executive Boards of the Chicago Building Trades, Chicago Federation of Labor, and Italian American Labor Council. Rocco is also Chairman of the Sheet Metal Workers’ Local 73 Executive Board, Chairman of the Sheet Metal Workers’ Local 73 Retiree’s Committee, Veteran’s Committee, Joint Arbitration Board, and Legislative PAC Committee. He Co-Chairs the Sheet Metal Workers’ Local 73 Pension & Welfare Board and the Annuity Board. Rocco is also a Trustee to the Sign & Production Council, a committee member of the Amalgamated Bank Labor Council, and the Vice President of Greater Chicago and Vicinity Board Council Maritime Trades Dept., AFL-CIO. He has been a member of the Board of Trustees for The National Energy Management Institute Committee (NEMIC) since 2009. Having been a Patrol Officer, Youth Commissioner, and Schaumburg Township Democratic Committeeman, Brother Terranova understands the meaning of public service and the needs of the working middle class. He values these positions and the experiences they have brought to him.  Married to his wife Sue for 38 years, he has three children and five grandchildren. Taking their devotion to public service from their father, his children serve in the military (Marines and Green Berets), work in law enforcement, and serve the public through social work.

GARY MASINO, EIGHTH GENERAL VICE PRESIDENT  Brother Masino represents over 4,000 sheet metal workers as the President and Business Manager of the Sheet Metal Workers Local Union No. 19, and serves as a General Vice President of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers, which represents over 215,000 members in 185 local unions across the United States and Canada.

A third-generation sheet metal worker with 35 years’ experience in the industry, Gary served as an organizer and business representative for the union before being elected President and Business Manager in 2011. His contributions and tireless commitment to the labor movement have earned him the respect and recognition of his peers, who have elevated him to multiple leadership positions since his election. Gary is the current President of the Pennsylvania State Council of Sheet Metal Workers, President of the Mechanical Trades District Council of the Delaware Valley, and Vice President of the New Jersey State Council of Sheet Metal Workers. He is also serves as an Executive Board Member of the Pennsylvania State Building Trades and the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, is a member of the Metropolitan Association of Presidents and Business Representatives, and Co-Chairman of the Health and Welfare Funds, Joint Apprenticeship and Training Council, Scholarship Fund, and Sheet Metal Industry Advancement Committee of Local 19.

Gary’s leadership and industry expertise led former Mayor Michael Nutter to appoint him to the Philadelphia Department of Licensing and Inspection’s Board of Appeals in 2012 as well as the city’s Zoning Board in 2014. In 2015, Governor Tom Wolf appointed Gary to his Transition Committee for Labor and Industry, and recently appointed him a Commissioner of the Delaware River Port Authority Board so that Gary could lend his expertise to help revitalize the city’s historical ports.

Gary currently resides in northeast Philadelphia with his wife, Karen, and their five children. Their oldest son, Gary Jr., is a recent graduate of Widener University, and their second-oldest son Eric has decided to follow in his father’s footsteps to become a fourth-generation sheet metal worker.

RICK WERNER, NINTH GENERAL VICE PRESIDENT Brother Werner has been in the sheet metal industry since his time as an applicant worker in 1984.  He indentured into the Sheet Metal Local 104 apprenticeship program in the spring of 1985 and completed his service in January 1990.  He became a Business Representative on January 1, 2000 and assumed his present position of President/Business Manager in 2015. During his long sheet metal career, Brother Werner served as trustee and executive board member for his home local before becoming a Business Representative in 2000. In May of 2006 he became the Assistant to Local 104 President/Business Manager Bruce Word and served as Local 104 District 1 (San Francisco/Bay Area) Assistant Business Manager. This past August, he took over as President/Business Manager of Local 104 upon the retirement of Bruce Word and currently serves as President of the Sheet Metal Western States Council.

CHRIS GRIFFEY, TENTH GENERAL VICE PRESIDENT Brother Griffey began his career in sheet metal after graduating from Jefferson County High School in Danbridge, Tennessee. He entered into the Local 5 (Eastern TN/North Carolina) apprenticeship program in 1993. After serving a four year apprenticeship, he worked in the sheet metal industry as a journeyman, foreman, general foreman, and job steward for a number of signatory companies. In addition to the above, Brother Griffey served on the Local 5 Executive Board from 2002-2005 and as an organizer and apprentice instructor until 2008 when he became President/Business Manager and Financial Secretary-Treasurer of his home local.

JAMES PAQUETTE, ELEVENTH GENERAL VICE PRESIDENT  As a second generation Sheet Metal Worker, Jim started in the trade working as an Apprentice shortly after his high school graduation in 1978. Completing a four year apprenticeship in 1982, he over the years has had the opportunity to work in most trade areas from shop fabrication to the installation of all types HVAC products as well siding and roof decking and served as a job site steward for several large industrial projects sites including job site foreman.  An avid motorcycle enthusiast he purchased his first Harley Davidson motorcycle just out of high school before entering work in the trade. He has ridden all along the west coast stretching from the Alaska border as far south as Cabo San Lucas Mexico attending the Sturgis Rally three times over the years after making four attempts. He continues to enjoy riding motorcycles whenever he has the opportunity.

Following successful completion of Labour Management Studies program at British Columbia Institute of Technologies, he was first elected to hold Local Union Office as a Business Representative in 1997 and attended the New Business Agents Class held that year at the National Labor College. He was re-elected as a Business Representative and in 2003 was nominated and elected to serve his local union membership as the Business Manager / Financial Secretary Treasurer and has been consistently re-elected afterwards.

In addition to his duties as Business Manager / Financial Secretary Treasurer for his home local union he also currently holds the position of President for both the Canadian Council of Sheet Metal Workers & Roofers and the Western Canadian Conference of Sheet Metal Workers & Roofers and also serves the British Columbia & Yukon Territory Building Construction Trades Council elected to the position of Financial Secretary Treasurer and is co-chair of the British Columbia Jurisdictional Assignment Plan of the Construction Industry.

JOHN RISCH, SMART TRANSPORTATION NATIONAL LEGISLATIVE DIRECTOR John Risch is the national legislative director of the SMART Transportation Division and has worked full-time in its Washington, D.C., office since 2009. There, he works on legislative, regulatory, safety and political issues. He was elected national legislative director in 2014.  Risch is a former North Dakota State Legislative Director for the United Transportation Union, serving in that capacity from 1986 to 2009, and is a member of Local 1344 at Mandan, N.D. Risch began his railroad career on Burlington Northern Railroad, working in the track department for two summers while attending college. In the fall of 1978, he hired out in train service and in 1979, he entered engine service in what is now BNSF Railway. He is a long-time International officer, serving on the Executive Board from 1991 until 2009. Risch is a graduate of Bismarck State College and earned a bachelor’s degree in Labor Studies from Antioch University of Yellow Springs, Ohio, where he studied collective bargaining, labor history, labor law, world labor movements and other issues related to labor.  While serving as the North Dakota State Legislative Director, he testified hundreds of times at that state’s legislature. He was also appointed by the governor to the Education Action Commission and Occupational Therapy Board. He was appointed chairperson of the state’s Minimum Wage Commission twice, once by a Democratic labor commissioner and once by a Republican labor commissioner. In that role, he led efforts to raise the minimum wage and improve issues of the workplace, including extending minimum wage coverage to farm workers, something the federal law and most states exempt from coverage. In addition, Risch has testified before both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives’ committees representing transportation workers. Risch has attended nearly every North Dakota Democratic and Republican convention since 1986 and attended both the national Republican and Democratic conventions in 2012.  Risch wrote a regular newspaper column for The Bismarck Tribune from 1991 until 1993, where he focused on labor, economic and tax issues. Risch, 55, has been married for 31 years to his wife, Kathi, and they have two adult children.

DAVID WIER, VICE PRESIDENT/INTERNATIONAL REPRESENTATIVE AND GENERAL VICE PRESIDENT David Wier Sr., born Nov. 12, 1955, is a member of Local 469 at Madison, Ill.  Wier began his railroad career in 1974 as a switchman on the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis (TRRA). He was elected a local chairperson and then general chairperson (GO 919). In 2003, Wier was elected alternate International vice president-East, and was elected an International vice president in 2007 and 2011. As a TRRA general chairperson, Wier won two representation elections against the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, and later successfully negotiated trip rates for yard trainmen and engineers on the TRRA.  Wier also served as a member of the Auxiliary Board of the Tri-Cities Area Division of United Way of Greater St. Louis.

JOHN LESNIEWSKI, VICE PRESIDENT/INTERNATIONAL REPRESENTATIVE AND GENERAL VICE PRESIDENT John Lesniewski, a member of Chicago Local 1534, was born on November 9, 1953. He attended Purdue University before starting his railroad career in 1972 on Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in Chicago.  Having held a number of local offices, Lesniewski was elected Local 1534 chairperson in 1982. He was re-elected by acclamation in 1986, 1990, 1994 and 1998. He also served as Local 1534 delegate at UTU Conventions in 1987, 1991, 1995, 1999 and 2003. In 1995, Lesniewski was elected part-time secretary of CSXT/B&O GO-049. He was elected by acclamation as 1st vice general chairperson in 1999, and later elected by acclamation as general chairperson on the former B&O CSXT property where he still serves. Lesniewski served on the 2008 and 2011 National Negotiating Committees. His other International appointments include the “Q&A Committee” for the 2008 national rail agreement, the 2008 Entry Rates Arbitration Committee, the Conductor Certification Bargaining Group RSAC Committee and the National Wage & Rule Panel in 2004 and 2009. He was elected as 2nd alternate vice president-East in 2011 and as a full International vice president at the 11th Quadrennial UTU Convention.

TROY JOHNSON, VICE PRESIDENT/INTERNATIONAL REPRESENTATIVE AND GENERAL VICE PRESIDENT Troy Johnson was born Nov. 15, 1956, in Dallas, Texas. He began his railroading career with Union Pacific in May 1976 and was promoted to conductor Feb. 1, 1979. A member of Local 594 at Mineola, Texas, Johnson was elected to the office of vice local chairperson in 1989 and elevated to local chairperson 1991. He served as local delegate in 1995. He served as vice general chairperson of UP General Committee GO 927 from 1995 to 1999 and became general chairperson in 2003. He was appointed to the UTU executive board in 2008 and was elected alternate vice president at the union’s eleventh quadrennial convention in 2011. In December 2012, he was elevated to the office of International vice president. Johnson also served on the UTU constitution committee in 2011. As a local and general chairperson, Johnson has experience in negotiating agreements and with employee protections, arbitrations and special board proceedings. Locally, he has served as a board member for the Rose Capital West Little League since 2009. Johnson and his wife, Rhonda, reside in Tyler, Texas, with their children Kali and Stephen.

JOHN ENGLAND, VICE PRESIDENT/INTERNATIONAL REPRESENTATIVE AND GENERAL VICE PRESIDENT John England was born Sept. 25, 1958, in Los Angeles. He hired out on Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway (now part of BNSF Railway) Aug. 28, 1978, as a brakeman. He was promoted to fireman in 1979 and engineer in 1981. A member of Local 1674 (a Los Angeles-based local that represents engineers on the BNSF and all yard crafts on the Los Angeles Junction Railway), England served as local chairperson for engineers from 1987 to 2003 and local chairperson for both engineers and yard workers on LAJ from 1995 to 1998. England also has served as local legislative representative from 1995 to the present and as local delegate at the 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2007 UTU conventions. England also served as secretary to his general committee, GO 020, from 1991 to 1995, vice general chairperson from 1995 to 2003, and general chairperson from 2003 to the present. He was elevated to the position of UTU International second alternate vice president – West in October 2009. After being reelected to that office in 2011, he was elevated to the office of Transportation Division vice president in January 2013 and was elected to that position in 2014. He also currently serves as chairperson of the California State Legislative Board, as a member of the Transportation Division Transportation Safety Team, and as Transportation Division special organizing representative.