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Ep. 5: Sheet Metal Sisters Share Their Stories

Lisa Davis

In our fifth episode of Talking SMART, we hear from members of the SMART Women's Committee. While at the Partners in Progress conference in Las Vegas in February, we had a chance to sit down and talk with four SMART sisters who have taken the lead in breaking new ground for women in the building trades. They discussed how they got into the industry, growing diversity in construction and opportunities for women in the sheet metal trade. We hear from two of them in this episode, and two more in our next episode.

Our first guest is Lisa Davis, a Local 16 member out of Portland, Oregon, who now works as a field representative at the International Training Institute, covering the entire United States and Canada. Lisa shares her unique journey to becoming a sheet metal worker and instructor, which included stops along the way as a bowling alley mechanic, microbiology student, bar cook, coffee farm worker and assistant in an open-heart surgery trauma unit. She addresses the importance of mentoring and female role models in the trade, and the need for the union sheet metal sector to continue to diversify if it wants to expand and prosper.

Our second guest is Vanessa Carman, a trustee and leader at Local 66 in Seattle, Washington. She discusses how she got into the trade, what it was like apprenticing and entering the union sheet metal industry after working for non-union contractors, harassment and discrimination on the job, and her work helping to connect and advocate for women in the union through the SMART Women’s Committee.

Vanessa Carman

In addition, listen for the open mic segment at the end of this episode, where General President Joseph Sellers answers questions from members about important topics facing them and their families.  

In our next episode, we’ll continue our conversation with our SMART sisters, as we hear from Michelle McNew, a longtime business manager at Local 464 in Ponca City, Oklahoma, who also chairs the SMART Women's Committee.  We also talk with Leah Rambo, a native New Yorker who serves as the training administrator for Local 28 and has broken ground for women and minority members in her local.


  • Alumae Spotlight: Lisa Davis
    The Oregon Tradeswoman blog featured Lisa in June 2017.
  • Portland Sheet Metal Worker Earns National Position
    SNIPS magazine profiled Lisa in November 2019.  
  • Career Spotlight: Get to Know Vanessa Carman
    The SMACNA-sponsored website includes a profile of Vanessa.
  • GoPro for a Day: Vanessa Carman
    This June 2018 installment of the Hermanson Company’s “GoPro for a Day” series follows Vanessa as she operates a Trimble at the Harrison Hospital Acute Care Expansion project in Silverdale, Wash.
  • Western Resources Center for Women in Apprenticeship
    A joint project of Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc., Seattle-based Apprenticeship & Nontraditional Employment for Women (ANEW), and Oakland, California-based Tradeswomen, Inc.
  • ANEW
    ANEW focuses on equity and inclusion in the construction industry, for both women and people of color. It is the oldest, continuously running pre-apprenticeship program in the United States. 
  • Oregon Tradeswomen
    Oregon Tradeswomen promotes success for women in the trades through education, leadership, and mentorship.   
  • Tradeswomen Inc.
    Founded in 1979, Tradeswomen, Inc. was one of California’s first organizations for women in the trades. Its mission is focused on outreach, recruitment, retention and leadership development for women in blue-collar skilled crafts.
  • Tradeswomen Build Nations
    Website of NABTU’s annual Tradeswomen Build Nations conference.
  • International Training Institutes
    ITI supports apprenticeship and advanced career training for union workers in the sheet metal industry throughout the United States and Canada.
  • Women in Construction: #MeToo in the Building Trades?
    A one-pager from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research on sexual harassment in the building trades. 


Ep. 4: COVID-19, Stimulus Legislation, Canadian Response, Shipyards and Procuring PPEs

In the fourth episode of Talking SMART, we continue our focus on the COVID-19 pandemic, its impact on our members and their communities, and how SMART is mobilizing across North America to help members stay informed and be safe at home and on the job during this crisis.

Our first guest is Steve Dodd, SMART’s director of government and legislative affairs.  Steve addresses emergency stimulus legislation that passed in the United States, as well as its impact on SMART members and their families.

We also talk with Chris Paswisty, an International Representative for SMART sheet metal workers and former business manager of Local 30 in Toronto, Ontario. He discusses the Canadian response to the pandemic and steps members and locals north of the border are taking to protect themselves.

SMART SM Local 33 members John Michaels and Evan Chambers doing their part to protect frontline workers in Ohio with a new batch of nose strips for volunteer mask-makers.

Our third guest is Tommy Fisher, a 39-year SMART member, and longtime International Representative from Mobile, Alabama. He services SMART sheet metal members employed at locations affiliated with the Metal Trades Department of the AFL-CIO. He discusses the work SMART members do in the shipyard industry, how these worksites and employers are responding to the pandemic, and the current situation in the state of Alabama.

Our last guest is Tom Wiant, a 33-year sheet metal worker and financial secretary-treasurer at Local 33, which covers northern Ohio and West Virginia. Tom talks with us about how his local has been able to procure thousands of KN95 masks to protect members in his region, as well as how Local 33 has contributed to SMART’s national initiative to produce and donate metal nose piece strips to volunteers making face masks for health care workers and first responders.

In addition, listen for the open mic segment at the end of this episode, where General President Joseph Sellers answers questions from members about important topics facing them and their families.  




Ep. 3: SMART Locals Work With Contractors to Help Members, Local Communities Impacted by COVID-19

In the third episode of Talking SMART, we hear from two local sheetmetal leaders about how they are working with signatory contractors to help us all get through this crisis. We also hear new updates about important COVID-19 related legislative issues impacting SMART members. 

Our first guest is Andy Bredeson, business manager of Local 45 in Des Moines, Iowa, who talks with us about a collaborative effort between his local and the area chapter of SMACNA to collect N-95 face masks and donate them to a local hospital that desperately needs them.

We also talk with Jared Cassity, assistant national legislative director for the SMART Transportation Division. Jared gives us an overview of the impact of new federal stimulus measures on SMART members in general, and rail and transit members in particular. He also addresses the situation with a recent COVID-19 related waiver of rail safety regulations by the Federal Railway Administration. 

Our third guest is John Stepan, business manager of Local 480 in Faribault, Minnesota. John discusses how Local 480 is working with signatory contractor Daikin to modify attendance and leave policies during the pandemic, as well as how HVAC equipment produced by SMART members at Daikin is already shipping out to support temporary hospitals and other healthcare facilities in areas most impacted by COVID-19.  For more information, contact John via email at

In addition, listen for the open mic segment at the end of this episode, where General President Joseph Sellers answers questions from members about important topics facing them and their families.   




Ep. 2: SMART Mobilizes in Response to the COVID-19 Crisis

March 30, 2020

In the second episode of Talking SMART, we talk with SMART leadership about the impact the COVID-19 crisis is having on our members and their jobs, as well as how SMART is mobilizing across the United States and Canada to help and support members and communities in need.  

We first hear from Randy Krocka, the head of SMOHIT – the Sheet Metal Occupational Health Institute Trust. Randy fills us in on the important work SMOHIT is doing to help members stay informed and be safe at home and on the job during the COVID-19 outbreak.

We also speak with SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy Ferguson, who addresses what SMART is doing to protect rail and transit members at work, what the response to COVID-19 has been from federal transportation agencies and rail carriers, and the critical role all our TD members are playing during this time of crisis.

Finally, we talk with SMART General President Joseph Sellers, for a summary of what SMART is doing to help and support members — both in terms of workplace health and safety, and financially — as business shut-downs, lay-offs and stay-at-home directives ripple across the economy.



Ep. 1: The State of Your Retirement Security

elderly_couple.jpgThe inaugural episode of the Talking-SMART podcast looks at a new proposal from Senate Republicans that poses a serious threat to our retirement security. Presented in a white paper by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), this plan would impose a new 10 percent tax on retirees and punish healthy plans with an 11-fold jump in fees.

SMART General President Joseph Sellers is our featured guest as he discusses this dangerous proposal, as well as the overall state of retirement security in America.

Related Resources:

  • SM National Pension Fund
    This web site features a whiteboard primer on pension and retirement plans available through the SM National Pension Fund, as well as information on defined benefit and defined contribution plans. The whiteboard primer may also be viewed on YouTube.

  • TAKE ACTION: Protect Our Pensions
    An easy to use webform that allows you to contact your US Senators about retirement security. You can also text the PENSION to 21333 to be immediately patched through to your Senate offices. (message and data rates may apply)
  • Senate Republicans' Pension White Paper
    View the full multiemployer pension white paper drafted by Senate Republicans and released in November 2019.

Ep. 1 - Open Mic segment with SMART General President Joseph Sellers

Screen_Shot_2020-02-11_at_2_27_54_PM.pngSMART General President Joseph Sellers answers your questions about important topics facing union members, including rail safety, women in the sheet metal industry, the upcoming election and more. 

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