Across North America, various sheet metal funds including the National Energy Management Institute (NEMI), the International Training Institute (ITI) and the Sheet Metal Occupational Health Institute Trust (SMOHIT) work to expand opportunity and wellbeing in the unionized sheet metal trade. Read about recent appointees below:

New NEMI field representative tapped for Good Jobs, Great Cities Academy

Josh Hunter, former SMART Local 48 (Birmingham, Ala.) Business manager and new NEMI Southeast field representative, was selected earlier this year by the city of Birmingham Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity to serve as a member of the Good Jobs, Great Cities Academy: a partnership between the National League of Cities (NLC) and the United States Department of Labor (DOL). The academy was established to develop innovative and scalable solutions to address pressing workforce challenges and is funded by investments from recently passed federal laws: the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act.

Birmingham was one of 16 cities chosen to participate in the academy. The group began meeting in May and will continue through July 2024 to develop solutions that focus on upskilling and reskilling workers and preparing underrepresented workers for quality, high-growth, in-demand occupations.

Working with labor leaders, industry partners and government representatives, the members of the Birmingham Good Jobs, Great Cities Academy specifically focus on infrastructure, clean energy and advanced manufacturing jobs, with an emphasis on barrier elimination, particularly as it relates to childcare and the care economy, Hunter said.

“I’m excited about this opportunity,” he added. “The work that we will be doing over the next year falls in line with the mission and goals our union has prioritized. We will look to create real solutions that will help our local recruit and retain members of the community, including those who are often underrepresented.”

Hunter hopes to create new marketing strategies and solutions, and he expects to work closely with the NEMI team to craft ideas that will assist his work group in completing its mission.

“NEMI has always been a resource we have relied on to help us move our local forward,” Hunter said. “I will absolutely rely on their expertise as a sounding board as we brainstorm solutions.”

Partnerships such as the academy are opportunities to get involved in the community, establish tangible relationships and build pipelines to recruit new members and promote the trade. Anything Hunter and Local 48 accomplish in Birmingham can be shared with other locals, too, added Lisa Davis, NEMI administrator.

“Local 48 has an incredible opportunity here, with Josh serving on the academy, to create real solutions that will benefit the entire community of Birmingham,” Davis said. “NEMI is proud to support his efforts in any way we can.”

Pittsburgh native lands leadership role at ITI

The ITI has named Len Liebert as program administrator, a position he accepted in September 2023. In his new role, Liebert oversees ITI classes and programs, working with teams on scheduling, planning and communication, as well as managing administrative staff and budget.

Len Liebert

Liebert has a history of mentoring apprentices and journeypersons. A longtime member of SMART Local 12 in Western Pennsylvania, Liebert joined the apprenticeship to become a second-generation sheet metal worker in 1989, shortly after graduating from Pennsylvania State University with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education. He then served as field foreman and in-house testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB) technician for Ruthrauff Service in Pittsburgh while working as a part-time instructor at his home local.

In 2001, Liebert took on teaching full time, and in 2014 he became the assistant training coordinator at Local 12. After around 20 years in service as a consultant for the ITI on instructor development, lesson packages, classroom management and educational psychology, Liebert was officially hired by the ITI as a field staff representative in 2017. He went on to become a certified Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) master trainer and a subject matter expert in infection control.

“Thirty-three years in this business has taught me to trust the people I have worked closely with,” Liebert said. “We have a great team here at the ITI, and I look forward to continued success with all our coordinators, instructors and members.”

Ed Robison aims to support members nationwide at SMOHIT

Ed Robison began his new job as field representative with SMOHIT — the health and safety arm of the unionized sheet metal industry — last summer, where his top priority is to educate members in their local unions about the resources SMOHIT offers.

Ed Robison

After entering the Local 218 (Springfield, Ill.) Apprenticeship in 1991, Robison completed the five-year program and steadily rose through the ranks to become an organizer and then, in 2014, the business manager. He lives in Springfield and continues to be a member of Local 218, where Carter Robison, the youngest of his three sons, is currently a second-year apprentice.

In his new position, Robison helps union members across the country by connecting them with local resources and familiarizing them with the SMART MAP (Member Assistance Program). Robison noted that it’s especially important to reach out to sheet metal workers who have traveled to work at large projects. These men and women are putting in long hours while living far from home, and those needing mental health support may not know where to turn.

“SMOHIT has increased staff size and vision, and it’s changing a lot,” he said. “I’m really excited for what lies ahead. This is going to be a whole new fund.”

John Wilson takes national role in sheet metal education

Longtime sheet metal worker John Wilson has been chosen as a field representative by the ITI. In this role, he will provide support for training programs and their directors, create and assist in the implementation of curriculum and training, and serve as a resource/liaison between the ITI and training facilities across the country.

John Wilson

Wilson began his career in the sheet metal industry shortly after he graduated high school in 2005. He completed the apprenticeship program with SMART Local 100, working mainly in the Washington, DC, area. From the moment he graduated from the apprenticeship, Wilson set his sights higher — first as a foreperson; then as general funds trustee, executive board member and part-time instructor; and finally, as an assistant training coordinator and recording secretary for Local 100. During his career, he worked for W.E. Bowers and Southland Industries.

Wilson is continuing his education at the Community College of Baltimore County, pursuing a degree in construction craft professionalism, in addition to industry training and certifications. Currently, he maintains multiple certifications in Occupational Safety and Health for the Construction Industry, fire life safety, duct air leakage, building envelope installer, ventilation verification and testing, adjusting and balancing, to name a few. He currently lives in Delta, Pennsylvania, just over the Maryland/Pennsylvania border.

Jeff Bradley named SMOHIT program director

Jeff Bradley, who joined SMOHIT in spring 2023 as a field representative, was promoted to program director in the fall, as his position underwent a “natural evolution:” moving into tasks such as scheduling and planning conferences and programs, reviewing contracts and overseeing the new version of health screenings, among others.

“The shift in responsibilities came organically as I stepped in to help with SMOHIT operations,” Bradley said. “Between revitalizing the health screenings in a different way that will reach even more members to scheduling SMART MAP sessions in Canada, it’s been busy, but I feel like I’m truly bringing benefits to members that could change their lives.”

Bradley entered his sheet metal apprenticeship in 2004 at Local 36 in St. Louis, where he currently resides with his wife and the youngest of his three children. Throughout his career, he has worked as a part- and full-time instructor and welding facility representative, as well as serving Local 36 as an organizer, vice president and director of marketing. He earned his associate degree in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC-R) from Vatterott College, and he holds multiple certifications and training completion certificates.