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.
While our online registration options for the upcoming Transportation Division Regional Training Seminars (RTS) to take place in Toledo, Ohio, Oct. 3 through 6 and in Davenport, Iowa, Nov. 6 through 9, have been disrupted, these events will go on as planned.
For those who have not yet registered, on-site registration for attendees will be an option at both events. The fee to attend the RTS is $50.
For more information, contact Ohio State Legislative Director Clyde Whitaker at 419-565-2629 or email email@example.com.
For the Davenport event, call the Rhythm City Casino at 563-328-8000 and mention that you are with SMART-TD to obtain a discounted rate. The TD event rate is $112 per night.
For more information, contact Iowa State Legislative Director Christopher Smith at 641-278-0699 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Illinois State Legislative Director Bob Guy at 312-236-5353 or by email at email@example.com.
Please note: Attendees are responsible for making their own hotel reservations for these events.
SMART-TD appreciates your patience as service is restored.
Monday, Sept. 4, marked Labor Day in the United States and our members were out making their presence known in celebration of the work we do while raising awareness about the work that still needs to be done in this country to raise the profile of the working class and organized labor.
California — Local 23 — Santa Cruz
Bus Department Alt. Vice President James Sandoval, left, and other members of his Local 23 in Santa Cruz, Calif., take part in a Labor Day event.
SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy Ferguson and Alt. National Legislative Director Jared Cassity were in Galesburg, Ill., and continued the tradition of a TD presence in the the nation’s longest-running Labor Day parade.
Our members participated in a Labor Day parade in Omaha, complete with the traditional appearance of the SMART-TD-branded mini-locomotive.
SMART-TD’s Nevada State Legislative Board had a presence at the Reno LaborFest.
Members from TD Locals 2, 1529 and 1816 walked in the Toledo annual Labor Day parade with Sheet Metal members from SMART Local 33.
SMART Transportation Division had a presence at the Labor Day parade in Roanoke, Va.
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.”
Ohio native Cassandra Kline has been hired as NEMIC’s director of building construction technology. In that role, she serves as a field representative to SMART locals all over the United States and Canada and is responsible for creating and implementing strategies for the use of new and existing technologies in order to expand skills and opportunities for SMART sheet metal workers and signatory employers.
“I’m building relationships with local unions and contractors, promoting new business ideas and technology, as well as representing NEMIC on committees and developing documents for American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accreditation,” Kline said.
As a second-generation sheet metal worker, Kline began her apprenticeship on the advice of her father, who served as the training coordinator at Local 33 in Toledo, Ohio. Kline’s brother is also a sheet metal worker, and she has an uncle who works in the electrical trade, so union life runs in her family. After graduating high school, Kline moved to Panama City Beach, Florida, and worked in the food and beverage industry for several years before returning to Toledo to take a job as a shop maintenance manager’s assistant. This sparked her interest in the field, and she tested and entered the apprenticeship, graduating in 2020.
During that time, she worked at VM Systems Inc., where she gained experience in TAB, architectural, commercial and heavy industrial applications of sheet metal work. In 2021, Kline took classes through the International Training Institute and became a part-time instructor at Local 33 for fire life safety, indoor air quality and TAB. She then joined Gem Inc. as a field supervisor for the TAB division and was soon promoted to service manager.
She says her rise in the field is a testament to the fact that the sheet metal industry provides opportunities to anyone willing to put in the time and effort.
“Be prepared for the opportunities. Show up, work hard and learn everything you can,” she said.
Kline has been settling into her new role and is enthusiastic about working with the rest of the NEMIC staff.
“I’m fortunate to be surrounded by a great team,” she added. “I’m learning every single day and have great mentors looking out for me and helping guide me along the way.”
Kline spends her spare time golfing and enjoying walks with her dog, Huckleberry.
WATCH: “I am very excited about the big jobs that are coming up. We have many opportunities that they offer for those who are willing to work, work hard and learn new skills.”
North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) hosted an event titled “Meeting the Moment” on Thursday, March 30 in Columbus, Ohio. The event, part of NABTU’s Opportunity Pipeline series, featured NABTU President Sean McGarvey, SMART Local 24 (southern Ohio) member McKenzie Quinn, representatives from the Ohio governor’s office, state politicians from both sides of the aisle, local union workers and more, all talking about one thing: $200 billion worth of megaprojects breaking ground in Ohio.
“Join us in rebuilding America and join us in establishing your place in the middle class,” McGarvey said at the event, addressing the union tradespeople of the future. “… We look forward to building this together as a team, as a community for the benefit of all in our country.”
As a result of massive investment and new megaprojects from companies like Intel, Honda and more – spurred in part by federal legislation like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act – the Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council estimates that more than 115,000 union workers will work full time from 2023 to 2025. That enormous number of jobs opens a huge window of opportunity for SMART sheet metal workers, both current and future members.
McKenzie Quinn (front row, second from right) with the leadership of Local 24.
“In Columbus right now, we have a lot of exciting upcoming projects,” Local 24 journeyperson Quinn said. “We have chip factories, data centers, electric vehicle battery plants, and this is going to bring hundreds of good-paying jobs in the next few years.”
That not only means family-sustaining jobs for Ohio SMART members – it creates a golden opportunity for local unions to recruit, organize and grow their market share.
“We need to do our best to continue recruiting people from every background,” Quinn noted. “This opportunity is available to everyone.”
Megaprojects, union apprenticeship programs create opportunity for all
“Joining a union has given me safety and security in my job and safety from discrimination, not only with wages but also gender-based discrimination,” Quinn said. “This is a great chance for everybody, including women and minorities, to get into the trades and have a great career.”
As part of the Easter holiday festivities in their community, SM Local 33 (Toledo, Ohio) members worked with A.N.G.E.L.S Outreach to hand out 110 food baskets to local families. Founded in 1995, A.N.G.E.L.S Outreach provides food baskets to those in need of a helping hand during Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter. SMART members who participated: Rod Graffis, Clint Dockery, Julie Price, Chris Monaghan, Bill Dukeshire, Nadine Dukeshire, Gary Schwartz, Laura Blackwell, Gail Mistiatis, Ray Schlagheck, Dick Schuller, Nick Koelsch and Jim Domanowski.
NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR SHEET METAL WORKERS AVAILABLE IN NORTHWEST OHIO
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
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.”
The SMART Transportation Division already has made public its full support of U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan if he decides to run for the U.S. Senate for his home state of Ohio in 2022. He’s already proven himself to us by showing up to support Amtrak workers during demonstrations against furloughs last autumn. But he did it again just days ago on the House floor, rebuking politicians who would rather talk about children’s book publishers who choose to stop publishing their own books rather than doing their duty to have a serious discussion about the PRO Act and fighting for hard-working Americans. Through 10 terms as a representative of Ohio’s 17th and 13th Districts representing the working cities of Akron and Youngstown and as a former presidential candidate, he’s had plenty to say about helping American workers. March 9’s speech was no different. “If there’s one thing you can always count on from me, it’s giving a damn about America’s working families,” Ryan tweeted out with a link accompanying the video below. We appreciate his passion. We applaud Rep. Ryan’s focus, drive and fire when it comes to the working class. We thank him, and, once again, we support him.