Throughout the spring and summer of 2023, approximately 125 SMART Local 105 members were performing HVAC, kitchen, architectural and TAB work on the new home of the Los Angeles Clippers, known officially as the Intuit Dome. The $2 billion project is slated to open for the 2024–2025 NBA season.

SMART’s news team toured the project in May 2023 with Local 105 leaders and members working on the project.

“We’re doing all the HVAC,” said Local 105 journeyperson Mike Duran, who is also a Marine Corps veteran and general foreman with Southland Industries on the arena job. “We’ve got about 1.2 million pounds of ductwork to put in this building. There’s probably about 40 or 50 air handlers.”

The project also has two-and-a-half dozen grease scrubbers and more than 7,000 linear feet of grease duct. “You’ve got hot markets, kitchens, concession stands,” said Duran. “Anything they cook food at, it’ll have a grease hood and it’ll pull the air and filter it and then spit it out of the building.”

He added that the project was on a “fast track,” with all the different trades and thousands of moving parts.

“I think right now there’s 1,100 workers on site. It’s a lot of planning, a lot of logistics to try to make everything and get everything in here.”

Under a project labor agreement (PLA) negotiated for the job, local hiring has been prioritized.

“A goal of a project like this, when it was negotiated through the building trades,” said SMART Local 105 Business Manager/President Steve Hinson, “was to bring people from the community and give them the opportunity to work on a grand structure like this. And give them the opportunity to learn the craft, to learn a trade.”

Hinson underscored that “PLAs have been proven to bring jobs in, using good union labor, on-time and under budget.”

“We’ve got an awesome team out here,” said Duran, “and we all work together for the same goal — to get everything done safely and effectively.”

Duran has been in the sheet metal industry since 1999.

“I came from Local 16 up in Portland,” he said. “My brother worked there and he got me in the trade.”

After apprenticing, Duran joined the Marines, serving for four years — including two tours of duty in Iraq. After leaving the military, he worked for a company providing personal security services in Iraq. He then moved down to southern California, met his wife and got married, and got back into the sheet metal industry with SMART Local 105.

“For somebody that’s coming out of the military,” he added, “that wants to work with their hands and build something, the trades are a great place to go. You can get in, make a good wage, good benefits, provide for your family and be successful. Out of all the trades, I think sheet metal is one of the best ones. We build our own stuff, we install it, we fabricate it.”

SMART Heroes graduates

Members of the military preparing to leave the service often have difficulties transitioning to civilian jobs — they suffer a loss of community, have trouble relating to civilians who don’t understand military life and struggle with how to find a career, not just a job. Five years ago, the SMART Heroes program started giving veterans and active-duty military about to transition to the civilian world in western Washington a shot at a career as a sheet metal worker. To date, 500 participants have graduated to become journey-level sheet metal workers.

The program — created by the International Training Institute (ITI), the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) workers and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) — presents participants with a concentrated seven-week course equivalent to their first-year sheet metal apprentice training (224 hours). Upon discharge from service, program graduates may choose to enter any of the 148 SMART apprenticeship programs in the United States and are provided direct entry and advanced placement as second-year sheet metal apprentices, which includes a living wage, health and pension benefits and a distinct career pathway.

Kevin “Lucky” Moore is a member of the second class of SMART Heroes and will graduate from the apprenticeship program at Western Washington Sheet Metal JATC in spring 2023. Upon his medical retirement from the U.S. Army in 2017, Moore recalled feeling a bit lost as he looked for his next step.

“I wanted to go into a job similar to my job in the infantry, just to stay in the lifestyle,” Moore said. “It was becoming an identity crisis for me, not knowing what to do with my life.”

WATCH: The SMART Heroes program graduated its 500th participant in March 2023, reaching this milestone in just over five years.

For Moore, the military was a family business, and he was concerned he wouldn’t find the solidarity he’d experienced among military members and their families anywhere else. Instead, he found a place that merged his military and sheet metal skills, and although it’s not the same, it was good enough to get the attention of his 19-yearold son, Alex Hogeland, who is currently a first-year apprentice.

“I was losing that identity, and one thing I was really dreading was losing that camaraderie,” Moore said. “The similarities between the union and the military as far as the brotherhood and the camaraderie was a big draw for me. They’re never going to be the same, but they’re very close — so the transition isn’t so bad.”

In addition to the brotherhood and sisterhood found in the union, past SMART Heroes graduates have said working with their hands, being outside, having a clear line of advancement and performing to expectations were all similarities between the military and the union that drew them to the program.

“I had choices after retirement. I knew that with sheet metal I would be actually working. I didn’t want to sit at a desk anymore,” said Richard Quintana, a member of the first SMART Heroes class who graduated from the apprenticeship in early 2022. “I also didn’t want to be in charge of a bunch of people. The Army isn’t the easiest [place] to be in charge of people. You can go somewhere, and you will come back with half of them. It takes a toll. I needed a break. I wanted to work with my hands, and this one sort of fell in my lap.”

Five years in, Moore said he’s watched the program evolve, and every day he finds out more information to help the next class of SMART Heroes. He and other veterans at SMART Local 66 (western Washington) have started a volunteer veterans committee and sit in on SMART Heroes admittance interviews to provide military expertise and guidance for the veterans and the union.

As part of that evolution, SMART Heroes opened a second location in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 2019. Josh Moore (no relation to Kevin Moore), SMART Heroes specialist with the ITI and an Army veteran, would like to see the program branch out even farther across the country.

“You’re not going to find opportunities like this too often after taking a seven-week course,” Josh Moore said. “I think these veterans have a solid opportunity in front of them. I would love to tell all veterans about becoming a sheet metal apprentice, even if they don’t come through this program.”

Many railroad employees have served in the Armed Forces of the United States. Under certain conditions, their military service may be creditable as railroad service under the Railroad Retirement Act (RRA).

The following questions and answers provide information on how military service may be credited toward Railroad Retirement benefits.

1. Under what conditions can military service be credited as railroad service?

The intent behind the crediting of military service under the RRA is to prevent career railroad employees from losing retirement credits while performing active-duty military service during a war or national emergency period. Therefore, to be creditable as compensation under the RRA, service in the U.S. Armed Forces must be preceded by railroad service in the same or preceding calendar year. With the exceptions noted later, the employee must also have entered military service when the United States was at war or in a state of national emergency, or have served in the armed forces involuntarily. Military service is involuntary when an employee is required by law, such as Selective Service System conscription or troop call-up from a reserve unit, to leave railroad service to perform active duty military service.

Only active-duty military service is creditable under the RRA. A person is considered to have been on active duty while commissioned, or enrolled, in the active service of the Armed Forces of the United States (including the U.S. Coast Guard), or while ordered to federal active duty from any reserve component of the uniformed armed forces.

2. What are some examples of creditable service performed by a member of a reserve component, such as the Army Reserve?

Any military service a reservist is required to perform as a result of a call-up to active duty, such as during a partial mobilization, is creditable under the RRA, so long as the military service is preceded by railroad service in the same or preceding year.

Annual training duty as a member of a reserve component of a uniformed service is also considered active duty and may be creditable, provided the railroad employee service requirement is met. The period of active duty for training also includes authorized travel time to and from any such training duty. However, weekend alone or evening reserve duty is not creditable.

Active duty in a state National Guard or state Air National Guard unit may be creditable only while the reservist was called to federal active duty by Congress or the president of the United States. Emergency call-up of the National Guard by a governor for riot or flood control would not be creditable.

3. What are the dates of the war or national emergency periods?

The war or national emergency periods are:

  • August 2, 1990, to date as yet undetermined.
  • December 16, 1950, through September 14, 1978.
  • September 8, 1939, through June 14, 1948.

If military service began during a war or national emergency period, any active duty service the employee was required to continue in beyond the end of the war or national emergency is creditable, except that voluntary service extending beyond September 14, 1978, is not creditable.

Railroad workers who voluntarily served in the armed forces between June 15, 1948, and December 15, 1950, when there was no declared national state of emergency, can be given Railroad Retirement credit for their military service if they:

  • performed railroad service in the year they entered or the year before they entered military serviceand;
  • returned to rail service in the year their military service ended, or in the following year, and;
  • had no intervening nonrailroad employment.

4. How can military service be used to increase benefits paid by the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB)?

Railroad Retirement annuities are based on length of service and earnings. If military service is creditable as railroad service, a person will receive additional compensation credits for each month of creditable military service and railroad service credit for each active military service month not already credited by actual railroad service.

Creditable military service may be used in addition to regular railroad service to meet certain service requirements, such as the basic 10-year or 5-year service requirements for a regular annuity, the 20-year requirement for an occupational disability annuity before age 60, the 25-year requirement for a supplemental annuity, or the 30-year requirement for early retirement benefits.

5. Can United States Merchant Marine service be creditable for Railroad Retirement purposes?

No. Service with the Merchant Marine or civilian employment with the Department of Defense is not creditable, even if performed in wartime.

6. Are Railroad Retirement annuities based in part on military service credits reduced if other benefits, such as military service pensions or payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs, are also payable on the basis of the same military service?

No. While Railroad Retirement employee annuities are subject to reductions for dual entitlement to Social Security benefits and, under certain conditions, federal, state or local government pensions, as well as certain other payments, Railroad Retirement employee annuities are always exempt from reduction for military service pensions or payments by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

7. Are the unemployment and sickness benefits payable by the RRB affected if an employee is also receiving a military service pension?

Yes. The unemployment and sickness benefits payable by the RRB are affected if a claimant is also receiving a military service pension. However, payments made by the Department of Veterans Affairs will not affect railroad unemployment or sickness benefits.

When a claimant is receiving a military service pension or benefits under any social insurance law for days in which he or she is entitled to benefits under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act, railroad unemployment or sickness benefits are payable only to the extent to which they exceed the other payments for those days. In many cases, the amount of a military service pension precludes the payment of unemployment or sickness benefits by the RRB. Examples of other such social insurance payments are firefighters’ and police pensions, or certain workers’ compensation payments. Claimants should report all such payments promptly to avoid having to refund benefits later.

8. Can proof of military service be filed in advance of retirement?

Yes. Railroad employees are encouraged to file their military service proofs well before retirement to expedite the annuity application process and avoid delays caused by inadequate proofs. Proofs can be mailed to an employee’s local RRB field office, or placed in the secure lockboxes/door slots outside of an RRB field office’s doors. (Lockboxes and door slots are checked daily.) Employee information will be recorded and stored electronically until an employee retires. All evidence brought or mailed to an RRB office will be handled carefully and returned promptly. 

If employees do not have an official record of their military service, their local RRB office will explain how to get acceptable evidence. 

9. How can an employee get more information about the crediting of his or her military service by the RRB?

More information is available by visiting the RRB’s website,, or by calling an RRB office toll-free at 1-877-772-5772. Persons can find the address of the RRB office servicing their area by calling the agency’s toll-free number or by clicking on the Field Office Locator tab at RRB field offices currently offer limited in-person service by appointment. To schedule an appointment, call 1-877-772-5772. Individuals should bring a photo ID when visiting a field office, and, depending on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the county in which the field office is located, may be required to wear an appropriate face mask. In such circumstances, if visitors do not have a mask, one will be provided for them. 

This month, we would like to pay homage to those who served in the Armed Forces. General Committee 2 is committed to recognizing its veteran members and making sure they know that we appreciate them and their service to our country. As a show of respect, however modest, this issue’s report is dedicated to honoring a veteran member whose service has extended into the work he’s done for fellow veterans on the railroad.

For Brother Styka, helping his fellow veterans is something about which he feels deeply passionate, and he values being able to apply the lessons he learned from his experiences to help make things easier for others.

Brother Toby Styka, a member of SMART Local 256 who works on Metra Chicago, is proud of his military service and passionate about assisting those who share his background. Having served in the Army from 1987 to 1995, including deployment during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, he understands the challenges servicemembers face when they return to civilian life, particularly around accessing benefits and support that will help them succeed. This is something Brother Styka himself encountered when he sought assistance for health issues that arose as a result of his service.

Realizing that many others might be confronting similar barriers, he started a veterans’ program at Metra for veterans to learn about the benefits they can receive and the programs available to them. For Brother Styka, helping his fellow veterans is something about which he feels deeply passionate, and he values being able to apply the lessons he learned from his experiences to help make things easier for others. Ultimately, Brother Styka is proud to support fellow veteran railroaders, and his program has been successful.

Beyond this important work, Brother Styka also enjoys hunting, taking trips on his motorcycle and travelling. He has been married to his wife, Tammy, for eight years, and he has two daughters, Kellie and Jenna, and two stepchildren, Morgan and Zach.

Members of SMART Local 206 demonstrated our union’s commitment to acting on our values during the San Diego Wounded Warrior Project Carry Forward 5K, held on August 20. Carry Forward 5Ks – which take place at cities across the country throughout the year – are fitness and fundraising events that give participants the chance to both pay tribute to and raise money for wounded veterans, helping fulfil the Wounded Warrior Project’s mission of honoring and empowering wounded warriors. During the San Diego Carry Forward run, Local 206 showed out in force.

“The SMART Army represented like no other team in both numbers and dollars donated, with 97 registered and over $10,000 raised,” Financial Secretary-Treasurer/Business Manager Dave Gauthier wrote on Facebook.

As part of the fundraising effort, Local 206 challenged other area labor unions to get involved – and they did, most notably IBEW Local 569. It was a display not just of labor solidarity, but of the vital role union members play in serving their communities.

“Although this money is going to help our wounded heroes, the day had a big impact on our members and their families too, including several of our veteran members – two of them came to us directly from Wounded Warriors here in San Diego,” Gauthier added. “You could see the excitement and appreciation in their faces as we gathered together to make a difference in our community and our country.”

Pictured left to right are SMART Local 71 members Paul Holland, Nick Hoffman, Anthony Paris, Shilo Rogers, Dan Morino, Jeff Gatti and Ryan Hurley. As part of Local 71’s SMART Army and Apprenticeship Community Service programs, these members partici­pated in a cleanup of Raymond Klimek Veteran’s Park in North Tonawanda, N.Y., a suburb of Buffalo. Spear­headed by Paris, a U.S. Army National Guard veteran, the beautification project took place on May 21–22, one weekend ahead of Memorial Day. Not pictured are Busi­ness Manager Paul Crist and Business Agent Timothy Benes, who also participated in the cleanup.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) added the Testing, Adjusting and Balancing Bureau (TABB) as a third certification body for certifying personnel and contractors who perform testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB) on heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC); water balancing; and sound and vibration equipment testing. The addition was effective Nov. 1, 2021.

With endorsements and acceptance/ inclusion from the VA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) and construction companies nationwide, TABB is the professional’s choice for the testing, adjusting and balancing of HVAC systems.

“Certification provides assurance to building owners that a particular contractor will meet a specified level of quality. The need for highly skilled technicians has increased with the complexity of HVAC systems.”

– From a 2020 white paper released the University of California, Davis, Western Cooling Efficiency Center (WCEC)

The decision was based, in part, on a white paper released in 2020 by the University of California, Davis, Western Cooling Efficiency Center (WCEC) — “Testing, Adjusting and Balancing HVAC Systems: An Overview of Certification Agencies” — which examined the benefits of using certified contractors and favorably positioned TABB as the first and only personnel-certifying body accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in this field. The paper also stated TABB conforms to ISO/IEC 17024, an internationally recognized standard for personnel certification bodies.

TABB has developed certifications to serve as verification that technicians and supervisors have the knowledge and experience needed to complete the job tasks at hand. A well-balanced HVAC system isn’t just efficient; it’s also safer due to enhanced ventilation rates and overall indoor air quality.

“Certification provides assurance to building owners that a particular contractor will meet a specified level of quality,” the white paper explained. “The need for highly skilled technicians has increased with the complexity of HVAC systems.”

TABB is the first program to gain ANSI accreditation for certification in the testing, adjusting and balancing industry. Certification is a statement that the technician, supervisor and contractor demonstrate the highest level of professional expertise

Despite a rise in economic insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic, Helmets to Hardhats assisted its construction industry affiliates in placing 2,324 military service members and veterans into building trades registered apprenticeship programs in 2020, according to new data released by the organization.
SMART is an active participant in Helmets to Hardhats – a national, nonprofit program that connects transitioning active-duty military service members, veterans and reservists with skilled training and career opportunities in the building trades.
“It underscores that there is a solid line from the military to the building trades, specifically in SMART, but with all the building trades,” said SMART Director of Organizing Darrell Roberts. “And, despite the pandemic, that line did not break.”

“There is a solid line from the military to the building trades, specifically in SMART, but with all the building trades. And, despite the pandemic, that line did not break.”

– SMART Director of Organizing Darrell Roberts

Roberts served in the U.S. Navy for four years, the Army National Guard for six years and is the former executive director of Helmets to Hardhats.
Helmets to Hardhats announced its total number of placements – or Known Successful Transitions (KSTs) data – for calendar year 2020 in May 2021. Since its inception in 2003, the organization has helped more than 38,000 military service members and veterans transition to the building trades, setting each of them on a pathway toward a middle-class, family-sustaining career in construction.
“This new data represents the collective efforts of all building trades unions and their signatory contractors to provide career opportunities for veterans and is a shining example of their commitment to this mission, even in terrible economic times,” said Helmets to Hardhats Executive Director David Porter.
“Helmets to Hardhats serves as a bridge for military service men and women in search of a secure career once their time in the armed forces comes to an end,” added Porter,. “These opportunities help ease the transition back into civilian life as they launch a new career.”

SMART TD Nebraska State Legislative Director Bob Borgeson invites all SMART members in his state to come out to Lincoln to participate in a Veterans Day parade at 2 p.m. this Saturday, Nov. 9.
“I hope for a good turnout,” he said.
A large portion of both the TD and Sheet Metal membership are veterans, and our union’s participation in these events help show an appreciation for U.S. armed forces veterans’ service to our country and the freedoms we in the United States enjoy.
TD Local 305 in Lincoln is the host Local for the event and has contributed toward defraying transportation costs for the event. Borgeson said other contributions to help offset those costs would be greatly appreciated and can be mailed to the Nebraska State Legislative Board’s office, 3333 S. 24th St, Omaha, NE 68108.
Checks should be made payable to the Nebraska State Legislative Board: NSLB LO030.
For additional information, contact Borgeson at (402) 679-0872 or

FMCSA-LogoWASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced nearly $2.3 million in grants, double the amount provided in 2014, to 13 technical and community colleges across the country to help train veterans and their families for jobs as commercial bus and truck drivers.  The funding is provided through FMCSA’s Commercial Motor Vehicle – Operator Safety Training (CMV-OST) grant program.

“We support job opportunities for Veterans who have served our country, but not only because it is the right thing to do, it also makes good sense,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  “One of the most important, fastest growing employment sectors is for qualified commercial vehicle drivers and Veterans bring invaluable experience to the industry and can enter the workforce quickly.”

“We doubled the amount we have previously provided through this grant program because of the important role qualified commercial truck and bus drivers hold in moving our economy forward,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling. “The men and women who complete these commercial driver training programs also serve our country in a vital way by making safety their top priority every mile, every day.” 

FMCSA awards CMV-OST grants to a variety of educational institutions that provide truck driving training, including accredited public or private colleges, universities, vocational-technical schools, post-secondary educational institutions, truck driver training schools, associations, and state and local governments, including federally-recognized Native American tribal governments.  
The 2015 FMCSA grants announced today will provide training for hundreds of new students.  The awards were made to the following organizations:

  • California – West Hills Community College District, Coalinga, $199,460
  • Georgia – Central Georgia Technical College, Macon, $146,771
  • Maryland – Cecil College, North East, $101,825
  • New York – Erie 2 Chautauqua Cattaraugus BOCES, Angola, $105,201
  • North Carolina – North Carolina Department of Transportation, Raleigh, $200,000
  • Ohio – Cuyahoga Community College District, Cleveland, $195,040
  • Oklahoma – Central Technical Center, Drumright, $200,000
  • Pennsylvania – Lancaster County Career & Technology Center, Willow Street, $194,811
  • Pennsylvania – Northampton County Area Community College, Bethlehem, $134,400
  • Pennsylvania – The Sage Corporation, Camp Hill, $198,504
  • South Carolina – Orangeburg-Callhoun Technical College, Orangeburg, $197,399
  • Texas – Alamo Colleges/ St. Phillip’s College, San Antonio, $196,680
  • Virginia – Tidewater Community College, Norfolk, $199,879

The Commercial Motor Vehicle – Operator Safety Training Grant Program was established by Congress in 2005 through the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), to expand the number of commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders possessing enhanced operator safety training to help reduce the severity and number of crashes on U.S. roads involving large trucks and buses.

In July 2014, FMCSA announced that the Military Skills Test Waiver Program had been expanded to include all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  

Under this program, state licensing agencies have authority to waive the skills test portion of the CDL application for active duty or recently separated veterans who possess at least two years of safe driving experience operating a military truck or bus. Waiving the skills test expedites the civilian commercial drivers licensing application process and reduces expenses for qualified individuals and operating costs to state licensing agencies.

FMCSA last year also announced that, beginning with Virginia residents, returning military service personnel who possess a state-issued Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) certificate due to a limb impairment will automatically be recognized as equivalent to an FMCSA-issued SPE certificate and allowed to obtain an interstate commercial driver’s license (CDL).  FMCSA encourages other state licensing agencies to establish comparable equivalency SPE programs.

To learn more about the Commercial Motor Vehicle – Operator Safety Training Grant Program, please visit

For a listing of last year’s CMV – OST grant recipients, please visit

To learn more about the Military Skills Test Waiver Program, please visit

To learn more about the U.S. Department of Transportation’s dedication to our nation’s veterans, please visit