After years fighting for thousands of sheet metal workers and their families as the president and business manager of SMART SM Local 19 (Philadelphia, Pa.) — and for SMART members across North America as a general vice president on the SMART General Executive Council — Gary Masino retired in early 2024.

Gary Masino

A third-generation sheet metal worker, Masino’s career began in the field, where he worked with the tools for approximately 20 years before becoming an organizer in September 2002. In 2006, he successfully ran for local office as a business agent, and in July 2011, he became president and business manager of Local 19. Several years later, former General President Joseph Nigro appointed him to serve as a SMART general vice president.

“I was honored to serve in that capacity and represent Local 19 at the table,” Masino said. “But after looking back on everything, by far the proudest moments of my career were when my two sons Gary and Eric decided to join Local 19, where they both served apprenticeships and are now working in the trade as journeymen.”

Masino took on a variety of leadership roles throughout his career: 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 also served as an executive board member of the Pennsylvania State Building Trades and the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO.

His leadership and industry expertise led former Philadelphia 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, then-Gov. Tom Wolf appointed Masino to his Transition Committee for Labor and Industry, later appointing him as a commissioner of the Delaware River Port Authority Board to lend his expertise in revitalizing the city’s historical ports. Current Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro later named Masino to his transition team as well, on the Workforce Development Subcommittee.

“I believe that everything I have, from the day I was born, wouldn’t have been possible without Local 19.”

Throughout Masino’s time as president and business manager, Local 19 organized aggressively to bring in new members, take on low-road contractors, elect pro-worker champions and pass legislation that benefited SMART members and working-class families. Masino’s tenure included historic, challenging times for workers: the aftermath of the Great Recession, during which Local 19 had 800 members out of work, and the COVID-19 pandemic. But years of organizing, strategic financial decisions and the appointment of full-time Political Director Todd Farally helped achieve membership growth, financial security and legislation that created work for members, putting the local in a position to secure its future.

In a retirement message to Local 19 members, Masino noted several of his proudest accomplishments: establishing a Local 19 holiday fund for out-of-work or injured members, which evolved into a program that offers qualified members a $1,000 benefit; the creation of a retiree family benefit that increased the local’s death benefit; growing the local’s sub-benefit; significantly increasing the contribution into the local’s annuity in some areas; securing the pension fund; and negotiating some of the strongest contracts in the local’s history.

Masino brought the same drive to the SMART General Executive Council, working with fellow leaders at the International to pursue growth and legislative wins that are benefiting SMART members across our two nations.

“I’ve had a great career,” he concluded. “I believe that everything I have, from the day I was born, wouldn’t have been possible without Local 19.”

In 2023, Local 19 worked with the National Energy Management Institute (NEMI) and pro-union politicians in New Jersey to help pass fire life safety legislation — helping keep citizens safe and creating more work for SMART members in the Garden State.

The process began in January, when then Assistant Business Manager Bryan Bush, Assistant Business Manager Luke Gordon and Political Director Todd Farally approached Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli and Senator Nilsa Cruz- Perez about running a bill that would ensure the state of New Jersey would follow the National Fire Protection Association Code (NFPA), along with the International Fire Code (IFC). Both mandate inspections of fire, smoke, combination fire/smoke dampers and smoke control systems, which include but are not limited to smoke evacuation systems and stairwell pressurization. In addition, any deficient dampers or smoke control systems would need to be repaired in a timely manner after inspection.

Early on, Local 19’s team consulted with Jeremy Zeedyk, the Northeast representative for NEMI. Zeedyk helped to get the ball rolling on crafting the legislation and ensuring that all the technical information, including the necessary certifications, were specified within the language of the bill. After several rough drafts, Local 19 had solid language and talking points to bring to Trenton.

Fire life safety is just one example of the job-creating lawmaking opportunities available to local unions. NEMI encourages all locals to reach out for assistance identifying and drafting legislation.

“By early March, companion bills were introduced in the Assembly and the state Senate, and both bills passed unanimously out of two committees in each chamber over the next couple months,” said Farally. “The Assembly fully passed their version in May, and the Senate moved to pass the legislation in mid- June. Oftentimes we see votes in government fall along stark political lines, but these bills left both the Assembly and Senate unanimously and were headed to Governor Murphy’s desk.”

That’s when the process hit a momentary hitch. After the bills had passed both chambers in Trenton, sponsors of the legislation began to receive questions and calls for concern from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and the Fire Service, which falls within the DCA. Assemblyman Verrelli’s office reached out to Local 19, laying out the concerns and where they were coming from.

“At this point, we reengaged Jeremy Zeedyk to look over the concerns the Fire Service had and then proceeded to set up a meeting between Local 19, the DCA, the Fire Service, NEMI and Assemblyman Verrelli,” explained Farally. “We were able to hear and address many of their concerns, and Local 19 shared our concerns with some of the proposed changes from the DCA.”

After a few months of drafting and redrafting language, in mid- November all parties agreed to some changes within the bill that give the state some flexibility while still upholding important standards which must be enforced. At this point, the bill was labeled as conditionally vetoed, which meant the governor’s office had changed some elements of the bill and it would be sent back to both legislative chambers for a vote to concur with those amendments.

In early December of 2023, the New Jersey Senate and Assembly both unanimously concurred with the changes, and fire life safety is now the law statewide — showing how important it is for SMART to be involved in the political process, and the vital role pro-union legislators play.

“There are still some steps to go through at this point under the regulatory process before everything is implemented, but rest assured — Local 19 will be there every step of the way to ensure the regulations are applied correctly and fairly to all,” Farally concluded.

Fire life safety is just one example of the job-creating lawmaking opportunities available to local unions. NEMI encourages all locals to reach out for assistance identifying and drafting legislation.

Local 16 meets with Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek

From Delaware to Oregon, sheet metal local unions are winning state legislative victories, helping put SMART members to work and improving the well-being of their communities.

On July 26, members of SMART Local 19 (Philadelphia, Pa.) joined Delaware Governor John Carney at the state capitol, where Carney signed into law a regulation that expands prevailing wage to include custom fabrication. Local 19 had pushed for this legislation for years, said Local 19 Political Director Todd Farally.

“This ensures that every worker that performs custom offsite fabrication, including ductwork and commercial signage, is paid the proper family-sustaining wage,” he explained. “Local 19 and the other mechanical trades, along with our sponsors, worked diligently to get this law passed.”

In the past, bad-faith developers had used custom offsite fabrication as a loophole to pay workers less and undermine area contractors, even when fabrication was taking place on materials for prevailing wage projects. By helping build a coalition to bring custom offsite fabrication under prevailing wage — a coalition that included state Senate Majority Leader Bryan Townsend, House Labor Committee Chair Ed Osieski, Representative Kim Williams, Senator Jack Wagner, contractor SSM Industries and others — Local 19 and other area unions will protect Delaware workers and contractors alike.

Local 19 with Delaware Gov. John Carney

“This is exactly why it is vital for our members and all workers to be engaged in the political process,” Farally added. “When we fight, we win!”

In Oregon, meanwhile, SMART Local 16 built a powerful group of allies, including the National Energy Management Institute (NEMI), to help pass House Bill 3031, which relates to indoor air quality in schools. If school districts receive funding to improve indoor air quality, the law would require indoor air quality assessments of K–12 school facilities every five years and the use of carbon dioxide monitors in all K-12 buildings to help confirm that all school ventilation systems are operating correctly, and that staff is notified right away of any deficiency or issue. It also mandates the review of an independent third-party mechanical engineer to ensure the proper corrections are made for the best results. Importantly for SMART members, labor standards contained in the bill will require that skilled, trained and certified workers perform the work — creating good, family-sustaining jobs.

The process began all the way back in November 2021, according to Local 16 Regional Representative/ Political Coordinator Russ Benton. That’s when Local 16 began meeting with politicians and candidates on both sides of the aisle.

“Over the next 12 months, [Local 16 Business Manager] Brian Noble and I met with every legislator that would meet with us regardless of political affiliation,” Benton explained. “This turned out to be incredibly important at the end of session due to the Senate Republican walkout.”

A crucial part of the successful campaign was developing a partnership with the state Department of Education. Local 16 worked with pro-labor Lane County Commissioner Joe Berney to start bringing federal funds to Lane County. The local also began cultivating relationships with key players in the education sector, such as the president of the Oregon School Board Association and the executive director of the Oregon Department of Education (ODE), as well as political allies like state Senator James Manning. Finally, Local 16 made the strategic decision to hire a grant writing contractor to help Oregon school districts and local educational agencies secure federal infrastructure bill funding to improve school buildings. Crucially, the grant writer would only write applications for projects under a PLA.

All those steps helped build a strong coalition to push for the passage of indoor air quality legislation, Benton explained. Local 16’s strong relationship with ODE led to the state publicizing SMART’s services on its website, promoting union sheet metal workers as the skilled technicians ready to perform indoor air quality work. ODE also sent a communication to school superintendents seeking initial school districts to participate in the grant-writing and application process.

The results have been immediate, Benton said.

“Within two days of the first communication from ODE, we had 22 school districts apply. Within two weeks, we had 33 school districts. Within three weeks, we had 40 school districts willing to sign project labor agreements.”

And on June 23, 2023, the local’s political relationships proved successful, ensuring the passage of HB 3031.

“Connecting with leadership on both sides of the aisle was incredibly important and made all the difference,” Benton concluded. “In the most hostile political environment in our state’s history, we passed a bipartisan IAQ bill.”

President Joe Biden visited SMART Local 19 (Philadelphia, Pa.) on Labor Day, honoring America’s workforce with sheet metal workers and union members from across the area during the annual Tri-State Labor Day Parade and Celebration. Local 19 apprentice Brittany Rivera introduced the president, telling her story of entering the sheet metal trade, being a working mom and the many benefits Local 19 has afforded her and her young family.

“Being a union member has changed my life,” Rivera said. “I spent 15 years in food service before a friend encouraged me to get in this trade. From him, I saw how a union provides stability, security and a good-paying job to raise my family. … I’m so grateful for Local 19. I know that I belong here.”

“Thanks to President Biden, the most pro-union president in our history, women are realizing that the trades aren’t just for men,” she added. “They’re taking advantage of the opportunities being created thanks to the president’s leadership.”

Biden’s visit to Local 19 — during which he also recognized Philadelphia City Council candidate and Local 19 Business Manager Gary Masino — is a testament to this administration’s real, material support for union workers, said Local 19 Political Director Todd Farally.

President Biden shakes hands with Local 19 apprentice Brittany Rivera.

“It is always an honor for Local 19 to host the Tri-State Annual Labor Day Parade and Celebration. But this year was a particular privilege for our union,” Farally explained. “President Biden spoke to thousands of union members about all the good work his administration has delivered over these past few years: investing in our infrastructure, rebuilding our manufacturing base and ensuring worker-friendly regulations within federal labor law.”

In his speech, Biden specifically discussed the crucial role SMART sheet metal workers are playing as we build the economy of the future, from complex ventilation systems in chip plants, to fabricating and installing energy-efficient heat pumps.

“The sheet metal workers who used to use hand-drawn blueprints to design ductwork in buildings now use sophisticated, computer-aided design systems so the entire project can be laid out in 3D,” he noted, emphasizing the expert training delivered in our union’s apprenticeship programs.

The president also discussed the importance of investing in working families; something his administration has done through the passage of job-creating laws like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act.

“Decades of handing out excessive tax cuts to the rich and the corporations without making the investments in America and the American people — that had been a bust,” Biden declared. “The long and short of it is we’re making things here in America again with American workers, with American products, in American factories.”

Photos by Local 19 apprentice Rob Jost.

International Representative Bob DiOrio retired on December 31, 2022 — concluding nearly 40 years of service to our union.

Retired International Rep. Bob DiOrio drinks a well-earned cup of coffee.

After starting his apprenticeship at Local 19 in Philadelphia in 1984 and becoming a journeyperson in 1988, DiOrio served on several of his local’s subsidiaries, including on Local 19’s executive board, the Local 19 Political Action League Committee, loan officer of the Local 19 Federal Credit Union and president of Local 19’s Beneficial Association. He helped lead the effort to grow the strength of his local as an organizer from 2000–04, then served his fellow members as a business representative from 2004–08, also leading the Center City Building Trades Committee as chairman. From there he moved onto international leadership, serving as Region 1 International Organizer from 2008–2011 and Region 1 International Representative from 2011–2022, with a stint as regional director of organizing from 2016–19.

DiOrio has been married to his wife, Carol, for 30 years; his daughter, Ashley Low, is an operating room surgical nurse supervisor, while his son, Vince DiOrio, works as a balancer for SMART Local 19. He is the proud grandfather of R.J., Nicholas and Vincenzo.

SMART thanks Bob DiOrio for his many years of dedication, and we wish him well in his retirement!

Local 19 retiree Keith Gilmer

Thanks to the strong support of his SMART pension, retired SM Local 19 (Southeastern Pa.) member Keith Gilmer has been able to spend plenty of time pursuing one of his passions: the outdoors.

“As a member, I was able to retire at the age of 55, and enjoy a few more years of good health than a lot of friends I know,” he explained. “I have been fortunate enough to make several hunting trips, and on my most recent one, I traveled to Newfoundland on a moose hunt.” Gilmer joined Mountaintop Outfitters — including the owner of the company, Art — for a successful trip: “I harvested a nice bull with a 40-and-a-half-inch spread … Previously I harvested, along with other bulls, a woodland caribou that is currently in the Boone and Crockett world record books.”

Because he was able to retire at 55 years old, Gilmer has the opportunity to devote a great number of years to exploring the natural world. It’s not something he takes for granted. “Thanks to groups like the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, along with our local unions, we get to enjoy parts of our ‘golden years’ outdoors,” he added. “Thank you for your past support, as well as the days and years to come.”

Will Griffin (second from left) with his family and Vice President Kamala Harris

On Tuesday, April 12, SMART General President Joseph Sellers, Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and others rallied at the SMART SM Local 19 (Philadelphia, Pa.) union hall to publicize an important Department of Labor (DOL) initiative.

On April 8, the DOL Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) created a National Emphasis Program (NEP) on workplace heat hazards, launching a targeted effort to protect workers from the threat of heat-related illness which, as a result of climate change, has increased in 18 of the last 19 summers. Workers suffer more than 3,500 injuries and/or illnesses related to heat each year, with low-wage workers and workers of color disproportionately impacted. With the implementation of the NEP — which is effective starting April 8 and will remain in effect for three years unless canceled or extended — the DOL aims to protect workers in more than 70 industries, including those that employ SMART workers. Learn more at

GP Sellers addresses the crowd at the Local 19 union hall in Philadelphia.

Facts on the NEP from OSHA:

The NEP is a nationwide enforcement mechanism for OSHA to proactively inspect workplaces for heat-related hazards in general industry, maritime, construction or agriculture operation alleging hazardous exposures to heat (outdoors and/or indoors).

  • This means that OSHA can now launch heat-related inspections on high-risk worksites before workers suffer preventable injuries, illnesses or fatalities.

The NEP encourages employers to protect workers from heat hazards by providing employee access to water, rest, shade, adequate training, and implementing acclimatization procedures for new or returning employees.

  • The NEP contains both enforcement and outreach/ compliance assistance components.

The NEP establishes heat priority days when the heat index is expected to be 80°F or higher. On heat priority days:

  • OSHA will initiate compliance assistance in the targeted high-risk industries.
  • OSHA will also continue to inspect any alleged heat-related fatality/catastrophe, complaint or referral regardless of whether the worksite falls within a targeted industry of this NEP.

OSHA will conduct pre-planned inspections in targeted high-risk industries on any day that the National Weather Service has announced a heat warning or advisory for the local area.

OSHA also recognizes that many businesses want to do the right thing by developing heat illness prevention plans to keep their employees safe.

  • On heat priority days, OSHA field staff will engage in proactive outreach and technical/compliance assistance to help keep workers safe on the job.
Vice President Kamala Harris speaking at SM Local 19.

In addition to the NEP, Vice President Harris, Secretary Walsh and President Shuler reaffirmed the Biden administration’s support for organized labor and working people across the country. Following an introduction by Local 19 third-year apprentice Will Griffin, in which he spoke about his journey in the trade and the benefits he’s experienced since joining SMART, Vice President Harris discussed planned improvements to schools and other local infrastructure using Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding — improvements to be completed by members of organized labor, including SMART. “It will put thousands of union workers … and, yes, sheet metal workers, to work across the country,” Harris said.

“[The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law] will put thousands of union workers … and, yes, sheet metal workers, to work across the country,” Harris said.

“President Joe Biden and I are determined to lead the most pro-union administration in America’s history,” she added. “Because you see, we are clear and we know, each and every day in ways big and small, unions change lives. Unions negotiate better wages and safer working conditions for millions of workers around our country.

Adriana Farren has always been into numbers. She earned a bachelor’s degree in human resources with a minor in finance and worked in the front office of the former Sheet Metal Workers Local 41 in Puerto Rico before moving to Pennsylvania in 2011.

This was where her life took a much different turn, and it all started with a job working in the office of Comprehensive Test and Balance in Dover, Pa.

After two years overseeing Farren working in the office — reading plans, going over forms and entering data — Todd Walter, owner of the company, approached her with a question: Would you be interested in becoming an apprentice?

“I said, ‘yes.’ Then, he said, ‘You’ll have great benefits,’ and I said, ‘yes’ twice,” Farren recalled with a laugh. “By looking at the reports, I thought it would be a career I would be interested in.”

The first lesson: integrity and honesty are important in testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB).

Walter saw Farren working on bids and learning the necessary drawings, documentation and paperwork, and he offered her the chance to have a career instead of a job. A second-generation sheet metal worker, Walter also took the opportunity to guide Farren through the process and mentor her as others had mentored him.

The first lesson: integrity and honesty are important in testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB), he said.

“No matter what you do, they have to believe what you tell them. Adriana had good personal skills. She had the insight. She is very smart, and she was at the top of her class. She fit the bill,” Walter added. “It’s something my father said a long time ago — you can have a job, or you can put your head into it and make it a career.”

During the first two years of her apprenticeship at SMART Sheet Metal Local 19 (Central Pa.), Farren knew she wanted to do testing, adjusting and balancing. So, at night, she took air and water classes and was certified as a technician in 2015 while she was still an apprentice.

Since her graduation in 2017, Farren has continued to gain certifications. She said testing keeps the skills fresh in her mind. To date, she holds a welding certification in addition to duct leakage testing and high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) testing.

“It’s a continuous learning process. I want to continue learning more about the balancing concept. I like to learn new things every day.”

– Local 19 member Adriana Farren

“It’s a continuous learning process. I want to continue learning more about the balancing concept. I like to learn new things every day. I would like to expand my knowledge in different areas related to TAB,” she said. “Having a certification shows people you’re certified in that concept and you know what you’re doing. In order to be a TAB tech, you don’t have to have the certification, but if you do, it proves you know what you’re doing.”

Knowledge, in Farren’s case, was definitely powerful. Although she took English classes on her native island of Puerto Rico, it was her second language. Being the only female balancer at Comprehensive Test and Balance — something Walter would like to see change — has its challenges, but all the challenges she’s faced have been nothing she can’t handle, she said.

“Back when I was in college, I thought I wanted to look after the employees and watch over them from a human resources point of view,” Farren said. “Looking back, 12 years later, that would have been very boring for me. I would have had to be in an office with the same four walls. No offense to the people who do it, but I like the fact I’m always somewhere different and learning something new.”

Walter took a chance asking Farren if she would be interested in a career. Now, as a full-time balancer at Comprehensive Test and Balance, she sees how her love of numbers led her to the career she now has. An interest in math, problem solving and finance isn’t relegated to an office and four walls. Those interests also can lead outside to various locations, continuous learning and a skill set that can last a lifetime.

“If you think you can do it, give it a try,” Farren said. “You don’t lose anything by trying, not just in this career, but anything. Trust your gut feeling. If you think you can do it, you probably can.”