By Don McIntosh
Five Sheet Metal union locals across the Northwestern United States have been reorganized into a new regional council, headquartered in Everett, Washington. Under the reorganization, members will elect delegates to the regional council, and local business managers and staff will be appointed and paid by the regional council. The change came at the direction of the locals’ parent organization, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART).
SMART Northwest Regional Council is the union’s second regional council, following the formation of the Southwest Gulf Coast Regional Council, a four-local council headquartered in San Antonio. Several other building trades unions—including Laborers and Carpenters—have also moved toward a greater role for regional councils in recent years.
SMART Northwest Regional Council became official June 1, 2020. It includes Locals 16, 23, 55, 66, and 103, covering members in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Nebraska. All told, it brings together about 9,500 active members. Most are in construction, but more than 1,000 work in production at manufacturing facilities and shipyards. The five locals employ roughly 50 business representatives, organizers, and office staff at more than a dozen offices.
The regional council is further structured into Coastal and Inland divisions, each overseen by a vice president. Lance Deyette, who was a business rep at Local 66, is the new vice president for the Coastal region, which includes Alaska, plus Oregon and Washington west of the Cascades. Kolby Hanson, who was business manager of Local 55, is vice president of the Inland division, which includes Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Oregon and Washington east of the Cascades.
SMART Ninth General Vice President Tim Carter, former business manager of Local 66, was appointed as the first president of the new regional council. Carter said the reorganization is a response to the problem of uneven level of representation for the members.
“Local unions are all in various stages of expertise,” Carter said. “As we elect our leadership, there’s always a period of time of learning. Sometimes it can take three or four years before you’re comfortable with the job. Having staff employed by a council provides some consistency and a level of knowledge and training that serves members better.
“The idea behind a council is that local structures stay in place, but there’s centralization of funds for five locals, and centralization of oversight,” Carter said. “It provides flexibility so that resources from one local area can assist in another area, where before they were kept separated.”
Carter says his focus the next three years will be above all to protect and increase the wages, benefits, and working conditions of members by growing market share and bargaining strategically with employers.
Carter has been a member of the union since he became an apprentice in 1980 with Sheet Metal Local 99 (which later merged to become Local 66). He got active in the union, and was elected as business rep in 2002, eventually serving as Local 66 business manager for six years, and ninth general vice president of the international union. He’ll now oversee the regional managers serving each local.
For Local 16, that’s Joe Harris, who has served as a business agent for Local 16 since 2016. Harris and Dustin Hysmith will serve three-year terms as regional council delegates for Local 16. New delegate elections for all the locals will take place in June 2023.