Local 47 (Ottawa, Ontario) sheet metal worker Stuart Simpson started his tradesperson career at a nonunion sheet metal shop. Unlike many nonunion contractors, though, his employer ended up actively encouraging Simpson and his coworkers to join SMART – resulting in a “truly life-changing” shift that Simpson says has transformed the trajectory of his career, leading him to become Local 47’s training coordinator. Read more in his BE4ALL member story:
“I got into sheet metal at a local shop in 1996. I became a registered apprentice and went through my five-year apprenticeship, attended three intakes at our local college (eight weeks each time), wrote my certificate of qualification and became a licensed journeyperson in 2002.
“I joined SMART back in 2011 – before becoming a union member, I worked for a nonunion shop. We normally worked long hours, usually for straight time, and we were paid time and a half when it was available. My employer at the time decided that we should all join the union because of the benefits SMART membership provided. It was a good employer that wanted to give its employees a better future. We were provided with a good pension plan and great benefits, as well as a nice wage increase! My employer did the best it could to provide good benefits and a pension; however, joining the union was an amazing decision. I am truly grateful for that. I was fortunate to work for that company for 19.5 years before it closed its doors.
“Once I became a union member, I started attending union meetings and learned more about what the union has done and could do for its members. By attending more union functions, I got to know the officers of the union, and when my union reached out looking for an instructor to assist with safety training, I submitted my name. Thankfully they liked what I had to offer, and I became one of the safety trainers. Shortly after I also became the part-time training coordinator, and after a few years they brought me on full time to serve as the permanent training coordinator.
“Over the last five years our local has expanded its safety training, brought in two more instructors, and most recently we were awarded our TDA (training delivery agent) status, which will allow us to start teaching the 308A Red Seal sheet metal and the 449A Red Seal roofer programs in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. I am so grateful to be a part of SMART, for the education it has provided me, as well as the many skill upgrade opportunities I’ve been able to access. Honestly, joining the union was transformational for me, not only from a financial position, but also because the things I’ve learned and the courses I’ve attended have truly changed my life. When I meet new apprentices, I tell them to take every opportunity to grow their skills, as learning is a lifelong journey. Thank you SMART for all you have done and continue to do for us!”