Today, President Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act, codifying legislation that will strengthen America’s ability to build, expand and modernize semiconductor facilities. In response, SMART released the following statement.
“We commend President Biden for taking swift action and signing the CHIPS and Science Act into law. Not only will the CHIPS and Science Act invest billions of dollars into the semiconductor industry – expanding our national capacity to develop chips and incentivizing companies to increase production – it will mandate that manufacturing to happen in America, and it will support good-paying, union construction jobs by requiring Davis-Bacon prevailing wage rates for facilities built with CHIPS funding. Companies are already responding to the passage of this legislation by making historic investments in American semiconductor manufacturing. SMART members are uniquely qualified to take on this work, and we look forward to taking on that responsibility.”
On April 4, 2022, members from across SMART gathered in Washington, D.C. to hear from SM Local 40 (Hartford, Conn.) Regional Manager John Nimmons about important indoor air quality (IAQ) legislation for sheet metal workers in Connecticut — based on an earlier legislative effort championed by SM Local 25 (Northern N.J.) Business Manager Joe Demark — that demonstrates how vital it is for SMART members to advocate in their local governments.
As of late spring 2022, multiple Connecticut State Senate bills, the most prominent being the Act Improving Indoor Air Quality in Public Schools (SB 423), are making their way through the legislative process with the backing of a labor coalition comprising SMART, the Connecticut Education Association (CEA), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the United Auto Workers (UAW) and more. Despite a deeply divided political climate, SB 423 garnered overwhelming bipartisan support, with Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont allocating $90 million in his proposed budget to IAQ. Importantly, Nimmons noted, “We got the language in [the bills] that we wanted, that will bring the work to us.”
“When we are involved in the legislative process from the start, we can ensure that the most qualified technicians — SMART members — are the people making sure our schools and buildings are up to par in terms of IAQ.”
The legislative journey started in February 2021, when Jeremy Zeedyk from NEMI met with Nimmons to talk about IAQ bills they hoped to pass. After forming a task force containing SMART, SMACNA, the Testing, Adjusting and Balancing Bureau (TABB), the UAW, various education and health commissioners, the state department of labor and more, Nimmons and several task force partners created a subcommittee, the Coalition for Healthy Air in Schools, which included contractors, teachers, school nurses and others. In weekly meetings, aided by labor lobbyists in Hartford and the state building trades, the worker-powered subcommittee hammered out the details of a bill that would meet the needs of all parties. “These are all the little coalitions that we had going along, and we used each one of them to pull [the bill together],” Nimmons said. “We didn’t get here overnight.”
In some ways, this legislation was years in the making: SMART members supported the candidacy of the retired teacher-turned-state senator who is now championing the bill. Additionally, it took working with a variety of parties — from the state commissioner of labor to the local vocational teachers union — to make sure every detail of the bill met high labor standards: using Connecticut OSHA requirements, providing adequate IAQ reporting procedures and whistleblower protections, and expanding the standards of existing schools to also apply to new construction.
The impact the bills will have on SMART members is tremendous: They will be the workers called upon to retrofit and construct facilities to meet improved IAQ standards. “This will dramatically change the work hours for my local,” Nimmons explained.
The Connecticut IAQ bills are closely modeled on legislation currently in the pipeline in New Jersey — which, similarly to Connecticut, could never have found forward progress without the efforts of SMART, particularly Local 25 Business Manager Joe Demark and NEMI Director of Training Chris Ruch. Currently, Demark is working to push the bill through the New Jersey Assembly, following prior collaboration with former N.J. Senate President Steve Sweeney. And while the bill has yet to become law, Demark, Ruch and John Hamilton, chief operating officer of TABB, are striving to make sure the legislation includes strong language that will benefit SMART members. As Demark noted, lawmakers — even those with a blue-collar background — don’t always have the knowledge or experience to guarantee that HVAC and IAQ work goes to technicians with the right levels of expertise. It’s crucial that SMART sheet metal workers make their presence felt throughout the legislative process for the benefit of local unions – and the local communities whose lives will be impacted.
“Government officials and communities across North America are beginning to realize how important indoor air quality is for keeping our kids, families, friends and neighbors safe and healthy,” SMART General President Joseph Sellers explained. “When we are involved in the legislative process from the start, we can ensure that the most qualified technicians — SMART members — are the people making sure our schools and buildings are up to par in terms of IAQ.”
“This is going to mean a lot of work hours for our people,” Demark added.
SMART has been instrumental in working to pass IAQ legislation across the country. In Nevada, Assembly Bill 257 requires all public and charter schools in the state to assess and upgrade (if needed) their HVAC and filtration systems once federal money already allocated for this purpose becomes available at the state level. “With fire and life safety, and now with indoor air quality, members will have more opportunities to branch out into other aspects of being a sheet metal worker to increase hours and market share,” SMART Local 88’s (Las Vegas) business manager at the time, Jeff Proffitt, said in June 2021, when the bill passed. In California, meanwhile, AB 841 — signed into law in 2020 — will direct more than $600 million in energy efficiency funding to test, adjust and repair HVAC systems in public schools. The best part for SMART members: The legislation requires the work be performed by a TABB-certified technician to receive funding.
Whether in New Jersey, Connecticut, California, Nevada or beyond, IAQ legislation is emerging as a potentially bipartisan issue with robust benefits for local communities — and stellar work opportunities for SMART members. To begin lobbying for IAQ bills in your state, contact your local union leadership or director of government affairs.
Today, the United States House of Representatives passed the CHIPS and Science Act, sending the bill – which includes $39 billion to build, expand and modernize semiconductor facilities in the U.S. – to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law. In response, SMART issued the following statement:
“We applaud both the United States House and the Senate for investing in the future of our country. The billions of dollars that the CHIPS and Science Act will direct to the semiconductor industry will expand our national capacity to develop chips and incentivize companies to increase production – and most importantly, it will require that manufacturing to be made in America. We also welcome the provisions in the bill that will put union members to work building new manufacturing plants, helping facilitate the growth of a skilled American workforce. The passage of this legislation will bring the expertise of union tradespeople into high demand; tens of thousands of SMART members across this country are ready to answer the call.”
The Tradeswomen Heroes Awards program honors two apprentices and two journey-level workers in the United States and Canada that set an exemplary example both on and off the jobsite
In July 2022, yet another SMART sister earned recognition from North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) for her hard work and proven track record: Annet Del Rosario, a 20-year journeyworker out of SMART Local 206 (San Diego, California).
“Her positive attitude and relentless work ethic are infectious to those around her, and I can’t think of anyone that deserves more accolades for everything she means to our local and those lucky enough to be around her,” said Local 206 in the NABTU press release announcing Annet’s NABTU Tradeswomen Heroes Award win.
Annet joined Local 206 in March 2002, committing to the union’s five-year apprenticeship program in August 2003 and turning out as a journeyperson in 2008. Since then, she has worked in the field as well as the shop on the HVAC side; she’s also served several terms as a trustee and an e-board member, and in her current position, she is the shop foreman at Able H&A – the first female to fill each position in the local’s history. Annet’s tireless advocacy continues off the jobsite as well: She created and is president of Building Trades Sisters, an all-female union trades group in San Diego.
“Annet is the shining example of what can be done when someone puts their mind to it,” the press release concluded. “She has always wanted to put in the work to receive the rewards.”
SMART congratulates Sister Annet Del Rosario for this well-deserved recognition!
As General President Sellers announced, years of hard work and sacrifices made by National Pension Fund participants, locals and employers have paid off.
In addition to this, the Biden Administration announced the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge in late March. This challenge is a call to action and a set of best practices to assist building owners with reducing risks from airborne viruses and other contaminants.
The Clean Air in Buildings Challenge relies on significant input from SMART and our experts at the National Energy Management Institute (NEMI), who assisted in devising its goals and objectives.
The challenge includes the creation of a clean indoor air action plan, practices for optimizing fresh air ventilation, the enhancement of air filtration and cleaning, and community engagement around the importance of enhanced air ventilation to ensure this issue — and its solution — is prioritized by leaders in the public and private sectors. This ensures the expanded contribution of our signatory contractors employing SMART sheet metal workers to lead this challenge.
As the Biden Administration rolls out the historic bipartisan infrastructure bill, modernizing the prevailing wages attached to these projects will ensure fair wages and protect workers employed in the sheet metal industry.
In early March, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that it was updating its Davis-Bacon rules, which affect members employed in the construction industry — especially those working for employers who compete on publicly funded projects. This is the first time in 40 years the Department of Labor has performed a comprehensive review of these regulations, and it couldn’t come at a better time. As the Biden Administration rolls out the historic bipartisan infrastructure bill, modernizing the prevailing wages attached to these projects will ensure fair wages and protect workers employed in the sheet metal industry. Structural changes to the administration of these new projects are what will make the difference in guaranteeing that not only are they built on time and under budget, but also that unscrupulous employers do not undermine the wages and standards SMART and our signatory employers have spent decades creating.
As you will find within this issue of the Members’ Journal, SMART has also updated our union’s website at www.smart-union.org. The website is all-inclusive and interactive, with landing pages for content and material found nowhere else online — such as an updated Resources section for sheet metal workers, TD material and forms, Canadian resources, an easier-to-use Sheet Metal Job Bank, membership information only available to you, links to fund material, dozens of resource libraries and more. Member information is accessed via a Member Portal and customized to each individual member’s needs and experience. Visit the website at www.smart-union.org and click on the Member Portal to create an account. Instructions for SM and TD members are linked through the QR Code below.
Brothers and sisters, we live in exciting times — we are taking advantage of new technologies to update our services to you. Make sure you continue to revisit the Member Portal, as we will update information there with breaking news and the latest resources.
The International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) applaud the efforts of the Biden Administration as they continue to innovate and press forward to ensure safe and clean air. The air we breathe within our buildings and schools must be safe for the people who live, learn and work in them. This clean air endeavor is of the upmost necessity, and we believe the administration is working to place that importance front and center with their efforts.
SMART and SMACNA have a vested interest in the success of the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge. The training, skills, and certifications our members have in indoor air quality, ventilation and filtration is the cornerstone of our craft. The quality of training and work our members and contractors do are important to us, as is the people who breathe the air that we deliver.
SMART’s partnership with SMACNA has been providing skilled, trained, and certified workers to respond in a timely manner to meet industry demands for more than a century.
SMART, with more than 203,000 members, provides classroom, hands-on, on-the-job and rapid response training to its members through federal and state registered apprenticeships in more than 150 state of the art training centers located throughout the United States and Canada.
SMACNA, representing 3,500 signatory contracting firms with more than 100 chapters throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, and Brazil, employ the SMART member apprentices (in an earn-while-you-learn program) who are mentored by trained, skilled and certified journeypersons.
SMART and SMACNA have witnessed the ups and downs of the HVAC industry in the past. Our membership and contractor base has always adapted to the challenges and grown with the needs of the industry. We feel confident in the ability of SMART, SMACNA and other Contractor Partners to meet and exceed the needs of the work ahead.
The challenge is a call to action and a set of best practices to assist building owners with reducing risks from airborne viruses and other contaminants indoors. The Clean Air in Buildings Challenge highlights a range of recommendations and resources, with significant input from SMART, for improving ventilation and indoor air quality, especially with the risk of spread of COVID-19.
In response, SMART issued the following statement.
“We appreciate the continued efforts of the Biden administration to address indoor air quality to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other airborne viruses. Despite its importance, poor ventilation has been a widespread and persistent problem in buildings for decades. Proper ventilation is not only a key to our recovery, but it will also help cut building emissions, lower energy costs, ensure systems are meeting design intent and make buildings safe for occupants. HVAC systems are complicated, but SMART members and our training programs set the standard for the work that is required to ensure buildings are safe and healthy. Recent passage of the American Rescue Plan Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation will help buildings have the resources they need to improve indoor air quality. Employing a skilled, trained and certified workforce to complete this work, is the surest way to ensure federal dollars are used effectively and efficiently to protect public health.”