SMART Sixth General Vice President and Northwest Regional Council President Tim Carter retired on July 31, at the conclusion of the 2023 SMART Leadership Conference’s first day. He retires with a legacy of trailblazing success, having overseen extraordinary growth and progress in the Northwest: from welcoming the formation of women’s committees to new organizing across the region.
Carter started his apprenticeship in 1980 with Seattle Local 99 (which later merged to become Local 66). After his four-year schooling, he became a field foreperson for MacDonald Miller Facility Solutions, working on several major projects in the Puget Sound area.
With nearly two decades in leadership positions at Local 66, Carter was at the forefront of efforts to provide services and support for a diversifying sheet metal membership. Carter served as Local 66 business agent from 2002–2015, when he was elected by the Local 66 membership to serve as business manager.
From 2020 until his retirement, he served as the head of the Northwest Regional Council. Carter also served as secretary on the Northwest Sheet Metal Workers Pension, secretary on the Northwest Sheet Metal Workers Healthcare Trust, and chair of the Western Washington Sheet Metal Training & Apprenticeship Program.
In another step forward for SMART and the unionized sheet metal industry, SM Local 66 (Seattle) and SMACNA-Western Washington announced a joint initiative – the first in the industry – to make lactation pods available to new mothers, starting in April 2023. This is an important step that will help mothers in the sheet metal trade return to work without compromising convenience, privacy and comfort.
“They’ll have a seat, sink, HVAC, electricity for the breast pump and phone chargers, plus a refrigerator to keep the breast milk cold during the remaining hours of the workday,” reads a SMACNA-Western Washington press release. “The lactation pods are designed for comfort and accessibility and will keep women from the embarrassment of getting walked in on. They will also make it easier to keep breast milk fresh, reduce the difficulty of locating and getting to a private space and provide storage for their pumping gear.”
Returning to work as a new mother has historically been a very different experience for tradeswomen compared with those working in an office, for example. Many SMART sisters in the Pacific Northwest have reported that they frequently had to pump in places where privacy and peace of mind were anything but guaranteed, including port-a-potties, cars and more.
The Local 66-SMACNA-Western Washington partnership will aim to rectify those concerns: Through an exclusive partnership with a custom fabricator, the SMACNA-Western Washington press release adds, “the clean, sanitary pods will be digitally secure via an app.”
Local 66 – both leadership and the local’s Women’s Committee – collaborated with SMACNA-Western Washington, the Northwest Labor Management Organizational Trust and the Western Washington Sheet Metal JATC to raise funds for this landmark project. In addition to providing vital services to new mothers, the lactation pods will help strengthen Local 66 and SMART as our union seeks to grow across North America.
“This type of initiative demonstrates our ongoing commitment to progress; to making sure all workers are welcome on the job,” said SMART General President Joseph Sellers. “This is a groundbreaking first step as we continue to organize workers across our two nations.”
As temperatures drop during cold and flu season, and Covid infections continue to pose public health challenges, it’s more important than ever to have proper ventilation in schools, offices and other buildings – and SMART sheet metal members are the highly skilled workers with the qualifications and expertise to perform that work. In Washington state, Local 66 members like fourth-year TAB apprentice Kelsy Sturzen are hard at work ensuring the quality of the air breathed by local students.
“I am one of the people that goes through and makes sure that all of the air coming out of the equipment matches what the engineers have designed for that space,” Sturzen said in a recent interview with SMART News. “We make sure that the equipment is working properly, controlling properly, so that we have the proper air changes per hour.”
Sturzen, who works at signatory contractor Holaday-Parks, Inc., spent the eight years prior to her apprenticeship working as the childcare director at the Boys & Girls Club of King County, Washington – a job she entered immediately after graduating from Central Washington College. Eventually, though, she needed a change, and her husband suggested the apprenticeship program at Local 66. Since then, Sturzen has loved life as a tradesperson.
“What I like about the work is that on any given day it can change,” she explained. “There’s always a surprise, there’s always a new problem to overcome. Some days it’s physical, some days it’s not – it’s never the same day.”
Sturzen, the first female technician Holaday-Parks has hired, is currently working on a tenant improvement project at a local elementary school. Indoor air quality has always been vitally important for the health and wellbeing of Americans, especially children, but that area of work has risen in profile since the onset of the pandemic. Now that Americans are fully returning to schools, offices and other public gathering areas, it’s vital that air is circulated in those spaces.
“I would tell a parent whose child was going to an elementary school that I was working on that the importance of the quality of their air realistically goes along with the quality of the education that they want their child to have,” Sturzen told SMART News. “[Poor] quality of air impedes your ability to think clearly, just like [not] getting enough sleep or [not] getting the proper nutrition. Breathing quality air and knowing that you’re in an environment where you can breathe easily and safely is an important fact to know.”
“It gives me a sense of fulfillment knowing that people are breathing a little bit easier because of the job that we’re doing,” she added. “[We’re] making sure that they come into a space where they know that they’re being taken care of.”