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.”

Jesse Wright (left) received his 25-year service award from Local 33 (Youngstown, Ohio) Financial Secretary-Treasurer Dave Larson.

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!


GEM Inc. has a long history of working jointly with trade unions to make sure customers receive the quality, safety and return on investment they deserve. It recently added to this history by becoming a signatory contractor to SMART Local Union 33 (Toledo District), also becoming a member of SMACNA in the process.

GEM has supported more than 45 customers in multiple industries since launching its sheet metal group in February 2021. It currently has over 50 sheet metal workers, with room for many more, said Nathan Schroeder, GEM’s piping/mechanical manager.

“There are positions we are looking to fill up. There are a lot of opportunities, from entry level to project management.”

– GEM Inc. Piping/Mechanical Manager Nathan Schroeder

“There are positions we are looking to fill up,” Schroeder said. “There are a lot of opportunities, from entry level to project management.”

All sheet metal fabrication is completed by Local 33 members at GEM’s 12,000-square-foot shop in Walbridge, Ohio, which also supports GEM’s regional offices in the Cleveland, Lima and Detroit markets. At present, sheet metal workers are working on two large projects in northern Ohio, a two million-square-foot solar manufacturing facility and a one million-square-foot canning plant.

GEM’s philosophy is to treat tradespeople with the respect they deserve by supporting their professional development with training, superb facilities and equipment, as well as by creating an environment where their input is encouraged and appreciated.

“GEM has a reputation in this industry as a great contractor to work for,” Schroeder said.

GEM designs, fabricates and installs commercial and industrial heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) sheet metal ductwork. Its fabricators are also experienced at projects that require welding or heavier metals. Duct testing, balancing and cleaning services are available through the GEM service division, providing a seamless, single-source vendor experience. GEM’s investment in all-new shop equipment includes:

Trimble automated software for ductwork fittings and layout

  • Trimble automated software for ductwork fittings and layout
  • 5’ x 10’ Mestek Lockformer Automated Plasma Table
  • Complete set of power roll forming equipment including:
    – Pittsburgh lock, both male and female, with cleat forme
    – TDF ductwork flange former
    – 4&1 roll forming
    – Power cleat former
  • Hand brakes and formers including:
    – 10-foot 16GA sheet metal hand break
    – Cheek benderDrive/bar folder
    – 3- and 4-foot hand rollers
  • Ductwork insulation liner equipment including:
    – Liner processing and cutting table
    – Industrial glue application equipment
    – DuroDyne Pinspotter
  • Large power equipment:
    – 10-foot 14GA Roper Whitney Power Shear including precision back gauge
    – Roper Whitney 10-foot 14GA Computerized Auto-Brake including a 10-foot box break and precision back gauge
    – 6-foot 10GA Power Roll

GEM’s in-house Virtual Design & Construction (VDC) group uses virtual 3D scanning, CAD and Building Information Modeling (BIM) software. Laser scanning can do everything, from providing data for detailed surveys of existing conditions, to creating and verifying the accuracy of as-built drawings. A 3D laser scanning system streamlines difficult “in-place” measurements by generating a precise and accurate 3D computer image of a structure, piece of equipment or an entire area. Laser scanned images form a point cloud that is imported into CAD software, enabling the shop to create the ductwork with high accuracy.

“These technologies enable us to plan and design the work virtually before it gets to installers on the jobsite,” Schroeder said. “Issues that could arise in the field and cause costly delays are resolved in the design phase, saving the customer time and money.”

Local 33 members were at the Helping Hands soup kitchen in Toledo, Ohio, where they volunteered to remove an old stove from the basement and installed a new one in its place. 

Helping Hands, a ministry of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Toledo, serves low-income and homeless families and individuals. The outreach center includes a soup kitchen, food pantry and clothing center. Additional services include providing hygiene packs to families, plus hot showers and hygiene and snack kits to the homeless. Since 1982, Helping Hands has served more than 1.5 million meals to people in need. An average of 250 meals are now served each day, Monday through Friday, through the generosity of the local community.