BE4ALL Committee, subcommittees meet in Chicago 

February 10, 2023

The BE4ALL Committee met on November 30 in Chicago, Ill. Facilitator Dushaw Hockett opened the meeting by emphasizing the importance of practicing BE4ALL’s principles of welcoming and belonging. He then invited committee members to overview some of the short-term victories already achieved.

ITI Administrator Mike Harris detailed the committee’s success designing, assembling and distributing menstrual product bathroom kits to every JATC in both our countries. In addition to the kits themselves, sheet metal shop drawings from SMART Director of Special Projects Louise Medina and SM Local 265 (DuPage County, Ill.) will be used to create menstrual product dispensers in JATCs across the U.S. and Canada.

“It’s exciting to see something from inception to actually being delivered,” Harris said. “We’re proud to be a part of it.”

Harris also summarized the ITI’s first “train-the-trainer” course on bias and belonging, which included instructors from 12 JATCs and charged those instructors with teaching the same course to their apprentices within 60 days. The intention, Harris pointed out, is for individual JATCs to eventually continue the bias and belonging trainings with their own members

Along with successful ITI initiatives, SMACNA and SMART produced 10 pieces of member-facing BE4ALL content in 2022, including videos, articles and podcasts, as well as pilot “Learning Journeys” meant to increase knowledge of subjects like Hispanic Heritage Month, Indigenous People’s Day, LGBTQ Pride Month and more.

View coverage of the November 30th BE4ALL meeting in episode four of SMART News.

The November 30th meeting marked the first in-person gathering of the BE4ALL subcommittees, tasked with implementing BE4ALL action items. The five subcommittees — Rapid Response Protocol + Toolbox Talks; Training — Bias and Belonging; Learning Journey + BE4ALL Calendar; Sheet Metal Industry Minority Caucus; and Pedal to the Metal Campaign — each reported on the work completed so far, from developing initial toolbox talks, to designing and distributing a 2023 BE4ALL calendar, which has been sent to JATCs, union halls, SMACNA chapters and contractors. The committees then outlined next steps: expanding Learning Journey offerings, developing SMART and SMACNA minority committees, broadening recruitment efforts to previously underserved areas and communities, and more.

“It’s so important for members to see: ‘People are investing in me, specifically me, to make sure I belong in the workplace,’” Local 36 (St. Louis) apprentice and BE4ALL Committee member Sheena Houston said of BE4ALL’s work going forward.

Importantly, this work is ongoing, both for those on the committee and for all members of SMART, SMACNA and the ITI.

“This is forever work,” Hockett reminded committee members, “and we have to be obsessive about the little things along the way.”