On October 1, 2023, Tom Wiant moved from his position as SMART Region 3 International representative to become assistant to the general president — the latest step in a 30-plus-year career in the unionized sheet metal industry.
Wiant began his journey in the trade as a production worker in 1986, entering the Local 33 (northern Ohio) apprenticeship in 1987 and attaining journeyperson status in 1992. He successfully ran for election as a business representative in 2003; seven years later, he was elected Local 33 financial secretary-treasurer in 2010. After representing Local 33 members in that role for 11 years, Wiant was appointed SMART Region 4 International representative in 2021, moving to Region 3 in 2022.
Local 33 (Vermilion, Ohio) members attended the 11th Annual Bricklayers Sporting Clays Shoot and won the Highest Overall Award! Pictured, left to right: Devon Conrad, Mike Friend, Mike Luma, Norbert Sword and Troy Karbler.
Pictured, left to right: Evan Brown, Jerry Durieux, James Chester and Kevin Tesch at the 2022 Local 33 Akron District Retiree Christmas Party. Chester received his 50-year service award during the party. Congratulations, brother!
SMART Local 33 (Cleveland, Ohio) officers and the third-year apprentice class gathered toys to donate to families in need as part of the Belonging and Excellence for All (BE4ALL) Pedal to the Metal Toy Drive. Each toy included a tag with a QR code that provides interested parents or guardians with information on entering a union sheet metal career.
On Monday, December 18, the Biden-Harris administration announced regulations that will implement President Biden’s executive order requiring project labor agreements (PLAs) on federal construction projects costing $35 million or more. In response, SMART issued the following statement:
“The finalizing of President Biden’s executive order requiring project labor agreements on large-scale federal projects is a life-changing win for union members and construction workers across the country. PLAs have been lifting working families into the middle class for generations – extending union-won, family-sustaining pay and benefits to local communities while bringing complex jobs to completion on time (and saving taxpayers’ money). SMART applauds the Biden-Harris administration for fulfilling its promise to our members, and for prioritizing the working men and women who are building our nation. We look forward to taking on the core infrastructure projects of the future.”
Acting United States Department of Labor Secretary Julie Su and General Services Administration Administrator Robin Carnahan gave remarks alongside Ohio Congresswoman Shontel Brown and Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb at the Anthony J. Celebrezze Federal Building in Cleveland, Ohio, following the announcement. As part of the event, Fatima Ware – a SMART Local 33 (northern Ohio) journeyworker and owner of WTD Mechanical, LLC – introduced Secretary Su. Great work, sister!
New SMART General President Michael Coleman has been stepping up for his fellow members since his days as a rank-and-file sheet metal worker in Cleveland. He worked as a foreman shortly after becoming a journeyperson, then decided he wanted to represent his brothers and sisters in the local.
“I realized very early on I wanted to be a leader in the industry,” he said. “I wanted to help represent the membership — that’s what led me into becoming an elected official, just my desire to represent the members.”
Coleman became a business representative at Local 33 in his early thirties; as time progressed, he decided to run for business manager to ensure member voices took priority in northern Ohio. There, he garnered a reputation for innovation: pursuing groundbreaking strategies in order to recruit more members, effectively structure local funds, provide greater flexibility to members and more.
Local 33 Business Representative Corey Beaubien, Director of Partnership Development Eli Baccus and International Representative Tom Wiant specifically praised changes Coleman made to the local’s scope of work and organizing — from building out Local 33’s fire life safety capacity, to devising special agreements and intra-local travel incentives to maintain work during economic slowdowns, to restructuring the organizing department to maximize cohesion and effectiveness. The result: steady growth at the local.
“The members are the union — that was the core value of this union when I joined in 1985, and it remains the foundational principle of SMART to this day,”
“Every decision that he’s made, it’s always been about the members first,” Beaubien said. “He was very successful in pushing us in organizing as a leader, and with the success he had in Ohio, I believe it’s going to translate to the whole country.”
Current Local 33 President and Business Manager Tim Miller agreed, pointing to the redirect fund Coleman conceived to give members more choice in the disbursement of health and pension funds.
“The members love it to this day,” he said. “It works, and it’s an example of how Mike just doesn’t take no for an answer. He knows there’s a solution to the problem, and he continues until he finds that solution and then he implements it.”
After several years leading Local 33, Coleman moved to Washington, DC to work as SMART’s director of business and management relations. Mere months later, General President Sellers asked Coleman to become assistant to the general president, a position in which he served until May 31, 2023. He played a crucial role during SMART’s second-ever General Convention in 2019, serving as secretary of the Constitution Committee and shepherding through 114 proposed amendments — helping to facilitate the democratic process of our union. He also worked side-by-side with Sellers to push for legislation that positions SMART members for future success.
That work is now beginning to bear fruit. “It’s our time. Now is our time,” Coleman declared.
In the short term, he explained, the dozens of megaprojects breaking ground across North America present local sheet metal unions with both unprecedented opportunity and workforce challenges. At the same time, rail and transit operator safety has become a headline issue from California to Charlotte, presenting SMART Transportation Division members with the chance to go on offense and secure lasting legislation and regulation. Key to both sets of priorities, Coleman noted, is the need to recruit and retain workers across crafts and industries, no matter their background.
“This is an opportunity to organize; organize like I don’t know I have ever seen before,” he said. “We have a chance to grow, to strengthen our numbers, to become a force in markets, communities and government offices across our two nations. We need to reflect the communities we all live in, and we need to ensure every member of this union — regardless of race, creed, beliefs, place of origin, sexual orientation or anything else — knows that they belong.”
With opportunity comes great challenges, Coleman added. Staffing megaprojects while maintaining core sheet metal work requires a new scale of organizing and recruiting, and the flighty winds of politics mean that nothing can be taken for granted when it comes to securing meaningful transportation safety legislation. Nevertheless, momentum is on our side.
“The members are the union — that was the core value of this union when I joined in 1985, and it remains the foundational principle of SMART to this day,” Coleman said. “When we come together to fight for our jobs, our communities and our families, we cannot be stopped. I want all members to understand that we’re going to continue with our representation, and we’re going to continue coming up with new initiatives that make their lives and their families’ lives better.”
In December 2022, SMART appointed Robert L. Butler (SM Local 17) and Tim Miller (SM Local 33) as General Vice Presidents.
Butler has dedicated his entire career to SMART, starting with Local 17 in Boston. After entering the apprenticeship program at the Local 17 JATC in Dorchester, Mass. in 1986 and graduating into journeyperson status in 1991, Butler became a trustee of the Local 17 General Fund in 1997, and then was elected to the Local 17 Executive Board in 1999. Butler successfully ran for the positions of Local 17 JATC trustee and Local 17 business agent in 2000 and 2002, respectively; after serving as a business agent for 10 years, he was elected Local 17 business manager and vice president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO in 2012. Butler became a NEMIC trustee in 2017, and in 2020 he was elected as president of the Metro Association of Presidents. Since 2021, he has served as the president of the SMART Northeast Regional Council.
Tim Miller started his apprenticeship in 1985 with SM Local 65, which merged as part of Local 33 in 1988, and became a journeyperson in 1989. He was elected Local 33 business agent in the Cleveland District in 2003 and Local 33 business manager/president in 2019. He currently serves as chairman of the Local Pension and Annuity Funds, co-chairman of the ICB, recording secretary-treasurer of the Great Lakes State Council, and was appointed by Ohio Governor DeWine to Serve Ohio — the state’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism created to empower local communities to mobilize AmeriCorps members and volunteer resources for the purpose of building a stronger Ohio — in 2019.
Thanks to multiemployer pension relief included in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, approximately 1,600 SMART members in the Sheet Metal Workers Pension Fund based in Massillon, Ohio will have their pension cuts fully restored, including full earned benefit in their monthly checks moving forward.
“This is definitely going to solve our problem,” SMART Local 33 (northern Ohio) Business Rep. Jerry Durieux told local newspaper The Repository. “This is hope for the future, that’s for sure.”
Unions and pro-labor politicians had been pushing for multiemployer pension security – in the form of a special financial assistance fund – for years, with Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown introducing it in the Butch Lewis Act multiple times since 2017. Only once a pro-worker majority and presidential administration assumed elected office could the Act – named after a legendary Ohio Teamster – be passed into law as part of the American Rescue Plan. Together with other provisions in the legislation, including funding for indoor air quality, the American Rescue Plan is already proving to be one of the most groundbreaking laws ever passed for working Americans.
“After years of advocacy by workers, retirees, and small business owners in Ohio, Democrats in Congress and this Administration finally saved the pensions that union workers in Massillon earned over a lifetime, with no cuts,” said Senator Brown in a press release announcing the pension relief. “This pension fix will help local workers and the small businesses they work with to grow and continue providing living wages and dignified work for Ohioans.”
Funding from the legislation has already saved 550,306 pensions nationwide, with millions more eligible. Furthermore, along with pension restoration for retirees, pension protection funding in the American Rescue Plan will put the Ohio Sheet Metal Workers Pension Fund on the path to solvency going forward – helping to secure the future benefits of active SMART sheet metal workers.
In late July, Local 33 (northern Ohio) Business Agents Jim Jackson and Jamie Bostic spent a day volunteering to support the 2022 Local 33-sponsored charity Camp Mountain Heart. The camp is a free, week-long experience for children ages 8–17 with congenital or acquired heart disease, created to give camp-goers the opportunity to connect and forge friendships with others who have had similar life experiences. Camp counselors include physicians and nurses, helping Camp Mountain Heart maintain a safe environment for campers to experience independence and activities that are both fun and help build confidence. Local 33 is proud to support such a great cause!