Leadership

GENERAL PRESIDENT JOSEPH SELLERS, JR.

Joseph Sellers, Jr., is a second-generation sheet metal worker who has risen steadily in his 37 years as an industry professional and union official.

Sellers began 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 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) 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.

As SMART General Secretary-Treasurer and continuing as General President, Sellers developed and led special campaigns to increase outreach and awareness for construction, production and transportation industries members, union industry officials and policy makers on key issues including pensions, health care, and apprenticeships. He implemented and continues to lead enhancements to the Union’s information technology, professional skills training and lifelong learning curricula.

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. He became SMART General Secretary-Treasurer on May 1, 2015, succeeding now General President Sellers.  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.

DEREK EVANS, SECOND 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, THIRD 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, FOURTH 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.

GARY MASINO, FIFTH 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, SIXTH 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, SEVENTH 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, EIGHTH 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.

MIKE COLEMAN, NINTH GENERAL VICE PRESIDENT  Brother Coleman began his apprenticeship in 1985 with SM Local 65, which merged as part of SM Local 33 in 1988, and became a journeyperson in 1989. He was elected to Local 33’s Executive Board in 2000, became Business Representative in 2002 and President/Business Manager in 2012.

In his broader efforts for Labor, he also serves as Chairman of Local Pension and Annuity Funds, Trustee Sheet Metal Workers’ National Pension Fund, Sheet Metal Workers’ International Scholarship Fund, Secretary of the Cleveland Building Trades Council, Executive Board member of the Ohio State Building Trades Council, and President of the Great Lakes States Council.

LUTHER MEDINA, TENTH GENERAL VICE PRESIDENT  Brother Medina’s career in the sheet metal industry began in 1987 as apprentice with SMWIA Local Union No. 108; and completing in August 1991, (in 2001 Local 108 merged to form Local 105). Luther was elected a Business Representative of Local Union 105 in June 2004 and assumed his present position of President/Business Manager in 2012.  Brother Medina also served in the following positions:  1996 – 1998:  Served as Trustee for SMW Local Union No. 108: 1998 – 1999;  Served on the Executive Board for SMWIA Local Union No. 108; 1999 – 2004:  Served as a Local Organizer in Local Union’s 108 & 105; 2004 – 2012:  Local Union No. 105 Business Representative and since 2012 – he has served as President/Business Manager of Local Union 105 in Los Angeles, CA.

Medina’s depth of experience also touches outside of the sheet metal industry as well and across the labor movement.  He serves as chairman for the Southern California, Arizona and Nevada Health & Pension Trust Funds in Manhattan Beach, CA; Labor Chairman for the Local 105 Southern California JATC; Executive Board of the California State Building & Construction Trades Council; a trustee of the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building & Construction Trades Council;  a Vice-President on the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO; and as a Commissioner on the City of Los Angeles Workforce Development Board.

TIM CARTER, ELEVENTH GENERAL VICE PRESIDENT  Brother Tim Carter started his apprenticeship in 1980 with Seattle Local 99 in 1980 (which later merged to become SM Local 66). After his four-year schooling, he was a Field Foreman for MacDonald Miller Facility Solutions working on several major projects in the Puget Sound area.

Brother Carter served as Local 66 Business Agent from 2002-2015, when he was elected by the Local 66 membership to serve as their Business Manager. Since that time he has served as a Trustee on the Northwest District Council.

Brother Carter has also served as Secretary on the Northwest Sheet Metal Workers Pension, Secretary on the Northwest Sheet Metal Workers Healthcare Trust, and Chairman of the Western Washington Sheet Metal Training & Apprenticeship Program.

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.

DOYLE TURNER, VICE PRESIDENT/INTERNATIONAL REPRESENTATIVE AND GENERAL VICE PRESIDENT  Brother Doyle K. Turner began a job with the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (now part of CSXT) in 1974, doing road service. He was promoted to engineer in 1976 and yardmaster in 1992.  A member of SMART TD Local 1962 in Toledo, Ohio, Turner embrace unionism and was elected Local Chairperson in 1992. He was elected General Chairperson of CSXT Railway General Committee GO-347 in 1996 and continues to serve in that position.

Turner was elected local delegate to the UTU International convention in 2003 and served as alternate vice president from 2003 to 2007.  Turner was named Second Alternate Vice President-East, in 2009 and Alternate Vice President in 2011. He was named by the Board of Directors as Transportation Division Vice President by 2013 and elected to that office in 2014.

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 J

John England began his railroad career with the BNSF in 1978. He has worked as a trainman, engineer, and RCO Operator. He has spent the last 30-plus years as a full- and part-time union officer gaining insight into the Transportation Division and lobbying for better working conditions for our members. After 17 years as a Local Chairperson, John became a General Chairperson and earned the distinction of being the first General Chairperson of a combined committee encompassing bus and rail properties.  John also spent many years as a Local Legislative Representative, eventually rising to Alternate State Legislative Director of California. Brother England has also served as a Delegate to four United Transportation Union Conventions as well as attending three others and served as a Delegate to the last two AFL-CIO conventions where many unions come to work together.

While working at the direction of the President Transportation Division over the past 5 years, John has been involved in strategic planning at the highest level and is well versed, having intimate knowledge of the administrative issues of the Transportation Division. His experience and knowledge have helped in creating Transportation Division budgets, staffing levels, meeting logistics as well as future planning. While assisting at the International level, John has been immersed in meetings concerning every aspect of our Union. In addition to serving on the General Executive Council, where decisions are made that affect all members, John is also on the Transportation Division Board of Directors making decisions that move our Union forward while maintaining the former UTU’s legacy.

For the past few years Brother England has had the opportunity to work with Designated Legal Council and the Academy of Rail Labor Attorneys, along with the Cooperating Rail Labor Organizations, where many of our health and welfare programs and pensions are decided.  John’s role as a Board Member of the United Transportation Union Insurance Association (UTUIA) and former role as General Secretary & Treasurer of the UTUIA have helped move the Association forward.  He has been involved in multiple real estate transactions with the UTUIA.

In addition, the SMART TD President has assigned Brother England to:

  • Be the point man on the Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS), which is designed to assist members reporting safety issues without fear of retribution from the carriers.
  • Provide oversight to the National Safety Team, which assists the National Transportation Safety Board when investigating major rail accidents.
  • Assist Locals when problems with elections arise.
  • Be a member of the National Negotiating Team.
  • Be a member of the Amtrak National Contract Negotiating Team.
  • Negotiate short line, commuter rail, transit and school bus and airline contracts.

John has been married to his wife Percia for 41 years.  They have five adult children and four grandchildren as well as two fur babies.