Waters Mechanical was founded by Brandon Waters in 2000. His father was the owner of a union signatory firm, so he had some familiarity with the union. The company was struggling to grow its sheet metal workforce, which had dwindled to six sheet metal workers. They could not find enough qualified, experienced sheet metal workers, and it was impacting the company’s ability to grow and perform more projects.

As part of their organizing efforts, SM Local 85 (Atlanta, Ga.) contacted Waters to explain how the local could solve the company’s qualified sheet metal workforce shortage through its hiring hall, apprenticeship training program, continuous worker recruiting, turnkey benefit programs and more.

After a series of meetings between the company and the local, Business Manager Steve Langley signed an agreement with Waters Mechanical on February 14th, 2022.

The local began providing all classifications of sheet metal workers to the company. The company’s six existing sheet metal employees were offered membership in Local 85. Waters also joined Local 85 as an owner-member because he saw the value in participating in the union’s benefit programs.

Waters Mechanical successfully performs projects in the outlying areas of the huge Atlanta metro markets, as well as projects in smaller cities in middle and southern Georgia, like Savannah, Macon/Warner Robbins, Valdosta, St. Simonds Island and Augusta/Fort Gordon.

The partnership with Waters Mechanical is helping Local 85 to expand its market presence in these areas on schools, government buildings and light commercial/retail projects. These projects are mostly in outlying areas where the local previously had little to no presence.

Waters Mechanical opened a second office in the Atlanta area to focus on the northern part of the state. In addition to supplying sheet metal workers, Local 85 also assisted the company with finding the leadership personnel needed to run the expanded operations.

Today, the company has more than quadrupled its number of sheet metal workers and continues to steadily land new projects — which call for more sheet metal workers from Local 85’s hiring hall and apprentice program.

Because of the positive experience with Local 85, the company also became signatory to the UA locals in the area and is in conversations with Lance Fout, business manager of Local 435 in North Florida, about expanding operations into the Jacksonville market.

Doyle Turner

ATLANTA — The UTU has reached a tentative agreement on behalf of train and engine workers employed by Fulton County Railway, a 20-mile-long OmniTrax-owned shortline on the west side of Atlanta.

The shortline operates over CSX-owned track, serving warehouse and light manufacturing companies in an industrial park. 

The Fulton County Railway train and engine workers selected the UTU as their bargaining representative in August 2010, after meeting with UTU organizers Rich Ross and Mike Lewis.

UTU General Chairperson Doyle Turner (CSX, GO 347) led the lengthy negotiations, with National Mediation Board mediator John Livengood helping bring the sides together. The tentative agreement now goes out for member ratification.

“What we are trying to do is bring parity in wages, benefits and work rules to the thousands of employees in the shortline railroad industry, in addition to the many other protections offered by union membership,” said Turner, who heads the UTU’s shortline-railroad initiative.

“The seniority, scope and discipline rules these members now enjoy are what makes union membership valuable,” Turner said. “They help ensure that these members will have the protections they deserve.”

Turner praised UTU International President Mike Futhey for his “commitment to organizing the unorganized employees on shortline railroads.”

Fulton County Railway should not be confused with Fulton County Railroad, an independent 13-mile shortline in Indiana.