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EPA asbestos rule change could hurt Sheet Metal Workers

Sheet Metal Workers and members of other building trades may be endangered by a new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule that appears to loosen the restrictions on the use of asbestos.

The proposed change would mean those seeking to use asbestos in the manufacturing of products would be required to notify the EPA at least 90 days before importing, processing or using the substance in manufacturing. The EPA would then review each request on a case-by-case basis.

According to multiple media reports, the EPA released a new proposal in June, called the “significant new use rule” (SNUR), which will allow companies to use asbestos in manufacturing of certain products or import certain products containing asbestos. Those products include adhesives, sealants, and roof and non-roof coatings; arc chutes; beater-add gaskets; extruded sealant tape and other tape; filler for acetylene cylinders; high-grade electrical paper; millboard; missile liner; pipeline wrap; reinforced plastics; roofing felt; separators in fuel cells and batteries; vinyl-asbestos floor tile; and any other building material (other than cement).

Asbestos was once widely used in the U.S in a wide variety of industries, including construction. Multiple scientific studies have identified exposure to the deadly mineral as a cause of cancer, specifically mesothelioma.

The EPA, Department of Health and Human Services, the World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer all classify asbestos as a known carcinogen. Direct or indirect exposure can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and other cancers, according to multiple reports and studies.

The U.S. has placed strict regulations on asbestos but has not banned the material.

Direct or indirect exposure can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and other cancers. According to Rolling Stone Magazine, asbestos has been found to kill more than 40,000 Americans annually.

A March 2017 Center for Disease Control report said mesothelioma-related deaths have been on the rise for years. It showed more construction workers die from mesothelioma than any other industry. Insulators, pipefitters and steamfitters, plumbers, sheet metal workers, iron workers, electrical workers and welders were among the top 11 occupations who members die from mesothelioma.

If new products made with asbestos are used in construction, the number of Sheet Metal Workers and fellow building trades members with mesothelioma and other related cancers will only increase, and so will the death toll from these terrible diseases.

Sheet Metal Workers Local 24 opposes the use of asbestos in all construction products and urges the government to enact a ban on the deadly mineral.

Local 24 Members Presented 70-Year Pins

Two Sheet Metal Local 24 members were presented with their 70-year pins.

In the South Point region, Business Rep. Jeff Rowe presented a 70-year pin to Brother Vernon Martin.

This was a special event for both Rowe and Martin (pictured above).

Rowe said it was first time he has presented a member with a 70-year award. Continue reading →

Janus Ruling Creates Nationwide So Called “Right to Work” in Public Sector

In a late June ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mark Janus, denying public sector unions the right to collect “fair share” fees.

The court’s 5-4 ruling in Janus vs. AFSCME District Council 31 overturns its 1977 ruling Abood vs. Detroit Board of Education.

Joining in the majority were Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch.

Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented with the opinion.

In Abood, the court ruled workers who do not want to join a union, but are represented by one, should not have to pay union dues, which can be used for political expenses. However, if state law allows, these individuals are required to pay “fair share” fees to cover just the union’s costs of negotiating contracts and representing members.

“Today, the Court succeeds in its 6-year campaign to reverse Abood,” said Kagan in the dissenting opinion. “Its decision will have large-scale consequences. Public employee unions will lose a secure source of financial support.”

Kagan said state and local governments who thought fair-share provisions furthered their interests will now need to find new ways to manage their workforces.

“Across the country, the relationships of public employees and employers will alter in both predictable and wholly unexpected ways,” she wrote.

By reversing the Abood decision, the court stated “fair share” fees violate the first amendment.

The Janus ruling, while not unexpected, strikes a major blow to public sector unions and is expected to lead to a loss of membership, which will also result in a financial hit as well.

SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich said this decision will affect a handful of properties who work for government transportation agencies that have SMART TD representation.

The Janus decision will not affect Sheet Metal Workers and all other SMART TD members.

Joseph Sellers Jr

SMART General President Joseph Sellers Jr.

In early July on the second day of the SMART Transportation Division Regional Meeting, SMART General President Joseph Sellers Jr. said the union will move in a unified direction at all levels in the fight against the ongoing attack on labor.

Sellers called the high court’s decision radical, as it will undo four decades worth of law in the 22 states where So Called “Right to Work” was not on the books.

He called upon Locals to intensify their organizational efforts and communication.

“We need to make sure that we have our game together,” Sellers said. “We need to make sure that we educate our members. We have a mid-term election coming up, and we can change that paradigm, but it’s not going to happen by itself. It’s not going to happen without our hard work.

“We need to be laser-focused as we fight back and take back one or possibly two branches of this government.”

Locals 24 and 33 work together to keep West Virginia HVAC Licensing Law

Sheet Metal Workers Locals 24 and 33, with help from a SMART lobbyist and the Affiliated Construction Trades (ACT) West Virginia, defeated an attempt by state legislators to repeal HVAC licensing requirements in the state.

After two years of working with legislators, SMW Locals 24, 33 and 100 won a key victory in 2015, as the state enacted a law to require state licensing for all workers who perform work on HVAC/Fire Dampers in West Virginia.

SMW Local 24 South Point Business Rep. Jeff Rowe

The licensing requirement was ultimately put in place to keep fly by night contractors and out-of-state contractors from coming into West Virginia and hiring whomever they wanted, not knowing whether or not the workers are skilled.

The legislation helped our Locals secure market share and also stemmed the tide of out of state contractors and fly-by-night contractors who would undermine local standards.

A year later, Republicans gained control of the Statehouse and repealed Prevailing Wage and introduced So-Called “Right to Work” legislation.

Over the next two years, they put bills forward to repeal the HVAC licensing, but the bills died in committee as pro-labor Republicans joined Democrats in killing these bills in committee.

Early this year, House and Senate leaders made repealing the HVAC license a high priority.

Partnership Development Representative and SMART lobbyist Steve Hancock worked with SMW Local 24 Business Rep. Jeff Rowe and Steve White, Director of ACT West Virginia, to lobby against the repeal of the license and educate legislators about its importance.

Through hard work and with support from SMW Local 33, the SMART coalition was able to convince members of the GOP that repealing the HVAC license was a bad idea. Facing mounting pressure, Republican leaders vowed to not introduce legislation to repeal the HVAC license as long as licensing requirements were lowered for residential technicians.

Rowe said the education and lobbying helped create enough allies were the Republicans did not have the votes for a full repeal and they settled to only tweak the residential requirements.

“It is very important that we stick together and educate legislators as much as possible and stay as strong as we can,” said Rowe. “It’s very important to build allies because under this current legislative map we are the outsiders.”

SMW Local 24 thanks the hard work and activism of SMART members and Local 33 – along with the solidarity shown from other trades and Local 24 members for helping us save this important license.

Cincinnati leaders attempting to stall Responsible Bidder ordinance implementation

Following an early January Ohio Appeals Court ruling that cleared the way for Cincinnati to enforce its disputed Responsible Bidder ordinance, the city administration is now attempting to stall its implementation.

The ordinance requires contractors on certain public construction projects to have graduated at least one employee from a registered apprenticeship program every year for the last five years. This ordinance is to be implemented in conjunction with a local hire program as well. The Responsible Bidder ordinance essentially requires contractors to supply a union workforce for Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) projects over $400,000. Contracts under $400,000 are exempt from the ordinance in order to allow smaller businesses to bid on these projects.

By creating the ordinance, the city understood that a registered apprenticeship program produces a construction worker who, regardless of race or gender, works efficiently and can help save time and money on the jobsite. Continue reading →

Appeals Court overturns ruling; Paves way for Cincinnati Responsible Bidder Ordinance

A court ruling has cleared the way for the city of Cincinnati to enforce its Responsible Bidder ordinance.

In early January, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the ruling of a lower court, paving the way for the city to require contractors to have graduated at least one employee from a registered apprenticeship program every year for the last five years.

Allied Construction Industries, a not-for-profit construction trades group for non-union contractors, sued the city, saying the ordinance was a way to ensure only union signatory contractors could successfully bid on contracts. Continue reading →

Bill will Aid High School Apprenticeship Recruitment

Sheet Metal Workers Local 24 stands to benefit from a bill recently passed in the Ohio House.

House members voted unanimously to approve House Bill 98, the Ohio High School Career Opportunity Act, which gives equal opportunity for representatives from colleges and universities, the armed forces, skilled trades, businesses and charitable organizations to present information on future career and post-graduate opportunities to high school students.

HB 98 now moves to the Senate for possible committee hearings and floor vote. If passed by the Senate, it will become law and give the building trades more access to public schools to expose students to careers in the building trades. Continue reading →

Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Residency Requirements on Public Projects

Posted by / December 18, 2017 / Categories: News / Tags: , , , , , , / 0 Comments

Ohio’s 8th District Court of Appeals ruled House Bill 180, which banned residency requirements on public construction projects, as unconstitutional.

The ruling upheld a Cleveland residency law that requires contractors who successfully bid on certain public construction projects within the city, to guarantee 20 percent of the hours worked must be performed by Cleveland residents, and 4 percent of that 20 percent must be allocated for low-income Cleveland residents.

By striking down H.B. 180, the court has granted chartered municipalities the right to enforce hiring requirements on certain publicly-funded construction projects. This means cities such as Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati can require contractors hire a designated percentage of their residents to work on certain construction projects. Continue reading →