From May 15–19, 2023, the SMART Recruitment and Retention Council — along with the Roofing and Building Enclosure and Production and Sign Councils — met in Memphis, Tennessee, where SMART leaders from across the United States and Canada reviewed and planned out activities for the year and beyond.

With the continent-wide need for workers at a generational high, now is the time for locals to recruit new members and apprentices for upcoming megaprojects in both nations. Lauren Sugarman and Lark Jackson from Chicago Women in the Trades discussed recruitment strategies to build a diverse pool of potential members to strengthen the union. Tiffany Finck-Haynes from the SMART Government Affairs Department gave an overview of federal funding available to local JATCs to assist with recruitment and retention of members from across all ethnic and gender backgrounds.

Darrell Roberts, SMART’s assistant to the general president, and Josh Garner from the SMART International Organizing Department led a presentation on recruitment tactics, while SMART-TD Chief of Staff Jerry Gibson led a discussion on recruitment and retention and its unique role in the industries the SMART Transportation Division represents. He was joined by John Pitts (organizer from SMART-TD Local 608), James Sandoval (general chairperson for SMART-TD Local 0023) and Chad Yokoyama (SMART-TD Local 1687).

Michael Childers speaks to SMART councilmembers.

Attendees at the Roofing and Building Enclosure Council meeting were also updated on cutting-edge tools and training for new panel systems. These will give SMART architectural sheet metal workers and roofers a leg up over the nonunion competition as SMART continues to expand market share and collective bargaining power for members.

The Production and Sign Council heard from Michael Childers, the department co-chair of the School for Workers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Childers spoke about the collaboration between the labor movement and civil rights movements, and how that solidarity translates to work being done today as SMART looks to spread our message of opportunity to people of all races and backgrounds. Local 464 (Ponca City, Okla.) Business Manager Mechelle McNew, a longtime leader on the council and founding member of the SMART Women’s Committee, was also honored at the close of the council meetings for her contributions to the organization as one of the first woman leaders in the SMART sheet metal industry.

Former SMART General President Joseph Sellers and General President Mike Coleman addressed attendees at all three meetings and updated them on progress at the International level. Each committee later honored General President Sellers for his contributions to the union and the substantial progress made during his time in office. Among the items Sellers received was a fishing rod to use during his retirement, when he will have the chance to spend time with his family.

Remarking at the end of a presentation from the SMART Women’s Committee, whose members were also in attendance, Sellers noted that he “looks forward to seeing the work you continue to do, because you’re shaping SMART.”

SMART Army lands in Memphis

On Thursday, May 18, members of SMART Local 4 in Memphis were joined by SMART members across North America for a community litter cleanup in historic Soulsville, where union members also helped repair and plant in Urban Forest and Community Garden. Following the event, the SMART Army presented a $21,100 check to Memphis City Beautiful, the nation’s oldest beautification commission.

“As part of our Recruitment and Retention Council, Roofing and Building Enclosure Council and Production and Sign Council meetings in Memphis this week, we decided to collectively do what our union does best: uplift working families in local communities,” said SMART General President Michael Coleman, who participated in the volunteer event. “We are proud to partner with organizations like Memphis City Beautiful and the Urban Forest and Community Garden to give back to the neighborhoods in which our members live and work.”

First-, second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-year apprentices participated in the fifth Northwest Regional Apprentice Contest on April 26-28 in Pasco, Washington. This year, the contest welcomed a combined 32 apprentices from Sheet Metal Workers Local 16 (Portland and Eugene, Oregon); Local 23 (Anchorage, Alaska); Local 55 (Boise, Idaho, and Spokane, Washington); Local 66 (DuPont and Everett, Washington); and Local 103 (Pocatello, Idaho).

Apprentices competed in four categories: architectural sheet metal, HVAC sheet metal, industrial sheet metal/welding and HVAC service.

In the architectural sheet metal category, Joe Kim, Local 23, took first place; Josh Clute, Local 55 (Spokane) took second place; and Diana Loveall, Local 16, took third.

In the HVAC sheet metal category, Nolan Milojevich, Local 16, took first place, with Cody Parrish, Local 55 (Boise), in second place and Kim MacArthur, Local 23, in third place.

Among the industrial sheet metal/welding apprentices, Christian Irving, Local 55 (Boise), took the top spot, with Tanner McFarren, Local 23, in second place and Jared Robeson, Local 16, in third place.

In the HVAC service category, top finishers included Alfred Fleener, Local 23, in first place; Jalen Brooks, Local 16, in second place; and Austin Dragt, Local 66 (DuPont), in third place.

On the morning of Thursday, June 9, over 120 SMART members joined the Association for the Rights of Citizens with Handicaps (ARCh) to prepare the Menomonee Park lodge for ARCh Camp Pow Wow, ensuring area adults and children with disabilities can attend the annual summer camp. Additionally, SMART pitched in with a fundraising effort that brought in $33,000 for ARCh and Camp Pow Wow, including a $5,000 donation from Milwaukee Tool Co.

“This is what we’re all about: building better communities,” said SMART Local 565 Business Manager & Financial Secretary Treasurer Jesse Buell. “Building better wages and benefits, and raising local standards. We are proud to take part in this effort to support our community.”

“SMART takes great pride in being able to assist ARCh Camp Pow Wow with their reopening,” added SMART Local 18 Business Manager/President Mike Mooney. “Camp Pow Wow has been a staple with serving the needs of the community for many years, and SMART is honored to be able to assist them.”

ARCh Camp Pow Wow has been providing outdoor recreational activities for adults and children with disabilities since 1959 with options for swimming, fishing, gardening, fitness, arts and crafts, music and more. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Camp Pow Wow hasn’t taken place in person since 2019, and the site had fallen into disrepair. As a small non-profit, ARCh did not have the resources to ready the site for return to camp, so the SMART Army answered the call.

“We are thrilled and honored to benefit from the enthusiasm and expertise of the SMART Army,” said Kristen Lindahl, Assistant Director of Operations at ARCh. “This project shows how much good can be accomplished through a dynamic partnership of organized labor, county government and the non-profit community. It takes this great ‘village’ to raise a camp!”

Members of SMART Local 18 (Wisconsin) and Local 565 (Madison, Wis.) – along with SMART delegates attending the SMART Sign and Production Council in Milwaukee – arrived at Menomonee Park lodge early on Thursday morning.

Members removed all the contents of the lodge, cleaned and sanitized the entire building – rooms, kitchen, common areas and more – and cleaned and sanitized every piece of equipment in the lodge before reinstalling all furnishings. Others took care of basic landscaping, repair and maintenance needs for the lodge picnic area, music pavilion, tent boxes and swing sets: fixing picnic tables and accessible wooden walkways, setting up heavy-duty tents for campers to use, spreading woodchips, sanitizing toys and recreational materials, and more. To finish off the effort, SMART members presented a $33,000 to ARCh Camp Pow Wow: a demonstration of the union’s commitment to supporting local communities across the United States and Canada.

“Although they have been challenging for everyone, the past two years have caused massive loneliness and frustration among children and adults with disabilities,” said Lindahl. “Thanks to the skill and dedication of the SMART Army, our campers can now safely and joyously return to the summer fun that they have missed so much!”