PartnersINProgress SMACNA & SMART—Building a Future Together
DIVERSITY Recruitment Tomorrow’s Workforce Vanessa Steward Foreman Secrets
PartnersINProgress SMACNA & SMART—Building a Future Together
JOSEPH SELLERS, JR. JACK KNOX Co-Publishers KAARIN ENGELMANN firstname.lastname@example.org Editor-in-Chief
8 Photo credit: MacDonald Miller.
August 2018 - Volume 12, Number 4
3 TOMORROW’S WORKFORCE, TODAY A look at the way demographics have changed over the past 20 years says a great deal about our future workforce.
Times have changed since Rosie the Riveter struck her iconic pose. Recruiting and retaining women is the future of construction.
6 VANESSA STEWARD: BUSINESS MANAGER
From sheetmetal worker to business manager, Vanessa Steward has worked tirelessly for recruitment and diversity in the workplace.
8 10 THINGS YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT FOREMEN
ark Breslin has interviewed thousands of foremen and has made an M important discovery: They are holding out.
JESSICA KIRBY email@example.com Editor POINT ONE MEDIA INC. firstname.lastname@example.org Creative Services ERIC WESTBROOK Cover Illustrator
Partners in Progress is a publication of the Sheet Metal Industry LaborManagement Cooperation Fund. All contents ©2018 by the Sheet Metal Industry Labor-Management Cooperation Fund, P.O. Box 221211, Chantilly, VA 20153-1211. Find Partners in Progress online at pinp.org or at issuu.com/ partnersinprogress. An archive of all issues is available and printed copies may be ordered for a minimal fee. For comments or questions, email email@example.com.
S HE E T M E TA L | A I R | R A I L | T R A N S P O R TAT I O N
“Where have all the flowers gone? “Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing? Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago?* *American folk song by Pete Seeger
The same can be said about the skilled construction workforce. More and more people who are familiar with the union construction and maintenance industry are reporting a union craft labor shortage. The degree of that shortage continues to grow. (See the Association of Union Constructors’ report at tauc. org/files/2018_TAUC_UNION_CRAFT_LABOR_SUPPLY_ SURVEY_REVISED.pdf.) It’s not something that has come out of the blue. Back in 2006, we were already talking about the problems we would face during the coming years having to compete with all other industries to attract the qualified new entrants needed to replace retiring workers. (See issuu.com/partnersinprogress/docs/pip_ vol5no2_summer2006?e=7388888/53754006 to read that issue of Partners in Progress.) That’s why this issue of Partners in Progress – and the next one – will focus on workforce issues and what labor and management can do to ensure that we deliver for our current customers and have the ability to expand into new markets. Indeed, the opening general session of the 2018 Partners in Progress Conference featured a presentation from Kevin Dougherty on recruiting quality applicants. He encouraged us to consistently recruit—because it takes four or five years to develop apprentices. (Download his full presentation at pinp. org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/OpeningGeneralSession_ KevinDougherty_FINAL.pdf.) Of course, the difficulty is that the demographics have changed over the past 20 years. A significantly higher percentage of the available workforce consists of women and minority workers. (The Pew Research Center predicts that growth in the Hispanic and Asian populations will almost triple over the next 40 years.) This means potential employees may not resemble the talent pool we used to target, and – importantly – members of that pool often don’t have the same priorities or preferences as individuals who entered the industry 25 years ago.
Typical 25-year-olds through the 1990s were married with children, owned a home, and were likely to stay at the same job most of their lives. Their priorities were work, family, and fun. Today, typical 25-year-olds are likely to live at home and be unmarried, want responsibility fast even though they are inexperienced, and expect to change jobs seven times over their lifetimes. Their priorities tend to be fun, family, and work. What does this all mean? It is necessary to change how we market to get craftspersons because we can’t be productive with an inconsistent workforce. We need to put our assumptions aside and target the best candidates for the job—regardless of who they are. In addition, it will likely require different tools to reach them. Share with us in social media or via email (editor@ pinpmagazine.org) what you are doing to meet the recruiting and retention efforts in your area. The 2018 Partners in Progress Conference offered several breakout sessions covering workforce issues, including a session on recruiting women and minority workers presented by Mechelle McNew (SMART Local 464); Julie Muller-Neff (SMACNA Western Washington); Leah Rambo (SMART Local 28); and Angela Simon (Western Allied Mechanical). Another session covered programs to help former military transition into positions in the construction workforce. Presentations and handouts are available at pinp.org/conferences/pinp18/ schedule. While you are at pinp.org, register for credentials to enable full access to the increasing number of resources made available to SMART locals, SMACNA contractors and chapters, labormanagement cooperation trusts and committees, and training centers. Registration is free but limited to members. Partners in Progress » August 2018 » 3
DIVERSITY Recruitment The Future of the Workplace By / Don Procter
Martha Holly (l) and Tiffany Williams (r) of MacDonald-Miller discussing the tags on a radius fitting. Photo courtesy of MacDonald-Miller.
When men enlisted en masse in the armed forces during World War II, labor shortages spread across the country, prompting ambitious recruitment campaigns to fill the void. Rosie the Riveter struck an iconic pose in posters aimed at drawing women into industry, where jobs in factories, shipbuilding, and other building trades were plentiful. It was a different time, but today’s building industry has one thing in common: a pressing need for skilled trade workers. And, once again—women—along with ethnic minorities and young people—are an untapped resource that could help industry retool. Nationally, the number of women in sheet metal is well below three percent. “Half of our population is women but only 2.74 percent of the apprentices in our sheet metal international are female, and less than one percent are journey workers,” says Vanessa Carman of Sheet Metal Workers Local 66 in Everett, Washington. Angie Simon, vice-president of SMACNA, says both labor and management are focused on recruitment and have agreed to rethink campaigns to draw more workers from diverse backgrounds. It starts with the messenger. “If you want to recruit someone – especially young people – you have to send someone that looks like them.” That means more recruiters will be women and people of different races and ethnicities. While it is important to use female recruiters, Carman says they have to be “honest and clear” about what sheet metal work involves: “The good and the bad. Yes, we have great wages, benefits, and opportunities for advancement, but also remember there are the early mornings, working in the elements, and the long hours on your feet.”
Sheet metal workers might require a thicker skin, but good pay, benefits, and often early hours – which give women time to get their children, if they have them, home from school – all add up to a good career, points out Simon. Still, high school agendas often don’t line up with that kind of thinking, says Simon, an engineer and president of Western Allied Mechanical, an HVAC design, build, and maintenance contractor in Menlo Park, south of San Francisco. High school counsellors too often steer students to college, not into trades, to maintain “bragging rights” on behalf of their school administrations. “That has to change,” she says. Simon frequently speaks at San Francisco Bay Area high schools to students about careers in engineering and the trades. “I show them videos of virtual reality, 3D models . . . we walk through a BIM model. The video game side of them finds it really interesting.” She and others have lobbied state and national governments to reintroduce “career tech” (industrial shop) into schools. Simon adds that taking recruitment efforts on the road to rural areas can prove fruitful where many young people have been raised by hard-working parents on farms or are employed in such industries as logging and mining. “These kids know what hard work is,” she says. As prefabrication grows to meet just-in-time delivery schedules, more shop facilities for prefab ductwork, piping, and other mechanicals will be built outside of cities for economic reasons. This is another reason to head to the country for workers. As a case in point, many major manufacturing shops serving the Bay Area are in the Central Valley—outside of San Francisco. Diversity Recruitment » August 2018 » 5
The door to the trades is opening wider for women partly because the traditional, macho-male construction site is evolving as a new generation takes to the tools. Carman says that Western Washington Sheet Metal JATC does a great job to recruit women. It collaborates with ANEW (Apprenticeship and Non-Traditional Employment for Women), which provides a six-week pre-apprenticeship program in basic trade skills. However, a few pockets of old-world mentality remain. For example, some apprenticeship instructors still discourage women from entering the field. “That’s not acceptable,” Simon emphasizes. The door to the trades is opening wider for women partly because the traditional, macho-male construction site is evolving as a new generation takes to the tools. “Our millennials are way more collaborative. They don’t see race, color, creed. They have grown up with it,” she says. As chair of Local 66’s women’s committee, Carman has been involved in a mentorship program for female apprentices. Women journeypersons volunteer as mentors, handling concerns of young apprentices ranging from job-related technical problems to personal issues that are uncomfortable topics to share with men. The program was created by contractors, union leadership, volunteer journeypersons, and others in the sheet metal trade. There is good reason for mentorship. Carman, a journeyperson and foreman for Hermanson Company, a Seattle-area mechanical contractor, says sometimes women workers are deemed a low priority on site and, therefore, get less assistance and training than their male counterparts. “The majority of the guys in the field are great but there are a handful of men set in their old ways that don’t think women should be here,” she says. Helping to close that gap is sensitivity and sexual harassment training, which is on the increase, says Simon. The state of California requires sexual harassment training for company managers. “It teaches them about how to deal with it when you come across it on the jobsite.” Carman says in addition to discrimination, harassment, and anti-bullying training, the industry needs to introduce “upstander training” in which peers stand up for the rights of their female colleagues. Leah Rambo is the training coordinator for SMART Local 28 Training Center in Jamaica, New York. Women – a rare sight when she started in the sheet metal trade 30 years ago – are more common in the field today. Their numbers have increased considerably in the last decade. About 13 percent of the Local’s apprentices are women—up from three percent in 2011. “My goal is 25 percent but I will settle for 20.” 6 » Partners in Progress » www.pinp.org
Angie Simon, president of Western Allied Mechanical and SMACNA vice-president, gives a tour of her business to a local congress person. Photo courtesy of Angie Simon.
Rambo adds that the rise in numbers is partly because of the Local’s partnerships with agencies like Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW), which runs a pre-apprenticeship program in New York. Recently the Building Trades Council of Greater New York City increased the number of women in its apprenticeship classes from 10 to 15 percent—another good sign that times are changing. Rambo credits the Joint Apprenticeship Committee and Local 28 Business Manager Kevin Connors as instrumental in the support of increasing women in the trade. She says 25 percent of the graduates of a welding certification course recently were women. “Welding is an area where women seem to excel naturally.” She points out that while there is a shortage of welders in the region, highly-skilled welders can make “above package” rates—an incentive for women to consider entry into the field. Destroying stereotypes at a young age is what a New York City program called Tools and Tiaras does. It offers girls as young as six a peek at non-traditional work—sheet metal is an example. Founded by a female plumber, the program has guest trainers from different trades tell the young girls about their fields, says Rambo, who recently addressed a class of girls ranging in age from 7 to 16 on life in the sheet metal industry. Seattle-based mechanical contractor MacDonald-Miller has set the bar high for its gender hiring policies. Typically about 33 percent of the company’s apprentices, journeypersons, and foremen are women, explains Martha Holly, a shop foreman at MacDonald-Miller. She says each of the shop’s department leads have attended sensitivity and sexual harassment training so any sign of a problem on the floor is nipped in the bud. “We have no tolerance for harassment.”
MacDonald-Miller, which produced about 1 million pounds of sheet metal in five months last year, stands out among other major mechanical contractors not only for employing many women in the trade, but also for promoting women. Holly believes there are only three female foremen in Seattle. “When I was an apprentice, the thought of becoming a lead or foreman wasn’t on my radar because there weren’t any women in those positions.” Since that time, she has learned that women can do it all.
Leah Rambo, administrator, Local 28 Training Center, mingles with students in the classroom. Almost one quarter of the students in this class—6 out of 26—are women. Photo courtesy of Leah Rambo.
Holly says sheet metal contractors that overlook women are apt to be left behind because shortage of skilled labor isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. “Not a lot of people want to do construction anymore but this [sheet metal industry] is one of the best kept secrets when it comes to career opportunities.” A sales point for young women is that the industry offers many career opportunities, ranging from welder or fabricator to detailer or CAD operator, Holly points out. “The sheet metal trade is one of the few that makes what it installs.” The shop foreman says she learned about sheet metal over 20 years ago while in a welding program at a community college. “Part of the curriculum was a sheet metal class and I loved it so my instructor encouraged me apply for apprenticeship.” Simon says she will focus on bolstering diversity in the trades when she takes the role of president of SMACNA next year. “I am going to throw a challenge out to all of our contractors: If you love this industry...why is it you only ever talk about bringing your sons into the business? Why don’t you think of bringing in your daughters, your nieces, or your granddaughters?” She is optimistic that she will be heard—largely because of the groundswell for change.
The Benefits of Diversity More diversity leads to more talent, more productivity, and more market share. This is the research-based, bottom line take-away from the “Diversify the Workforce: Recruiting Women and Minority Workers” session held at the Partners in Progress Conference earlier this year. The session was presented by a panel of industry leaders who explored why diversity and inclusion are key to our future sustainability as an industry. Those presenters were: Mechelle McNew is a key team member of the SMART Women Team, which operates with a mission to recruit, retain, and promote women in the sheet metal trade and ensure workplace equality. Executive vice-president of SMACNA-Western Washington and Co-chair of SMACNA National’s Women in Construction Leadership Council Julie Muller-Neff actively addresses the industry’s workforce needs through an intern program to help bright, young people find their way to deserving contractors. Leah Rambo currently serves on the New York City Department of Education’s Career and Technical Education Advisory Council and Gender Equity Committee and is a member of NYC Coalition for Women in Construction. Angie Simon has been a leader in the Bay Area construction industry for many years. She co-chairs the Women in Construction Leadership Committee with Muller-Neff, working with contractors and Locals to encourage and promote the role of women in sheet metal. Some of their top points covered ways to overcome barriers to achieving greater diversity, addressing the needs of women and minorities to keep them in the industry, and developing a culture of inclusivity. Learn more and download the presentation at pinp.org/conferences/pinp18/schedule/diversify-theworkforce-recruiting-women-and-minority-workers/.
Don Procter is a freelance writer based in Toronto, Canada.
Diversity Recruitment » August 2018 » 7
RECRUITMENT SUCCESS Vanessa Steward, Business Agent for Local 16 By Cari Bilyeu Clark
There were very few female sheet metal workers in 1995 when Vanessa Steward of Portland, Oregon, walked into a trade show. The newlywed and new mom was looking for something different to put her hand to that would also guarantee a good wage. “My parents were cobblers, so making patterns and creating something was not new to me,” Steward says. She had been steered toward electrical work, but did not want to be an electrician. “I had taken a sheet metal class in middle school, and when I saw the sheet metal booth, I thought, ‘That’s it!’,” she says. Steward completed her apprenticeship training and loved the work. “I especially liked getting the opportunity to create custom products.” One memorable job required her to make a black iron frame for a stained-glass décor piece that was installed in Las Vegas. “Making something from nothing and putting it in the air... I loved that.” 8 » Partners in Progress » www.pinp.org
© Can Stock Photo / michaeldb
Ambitious and dedicated, Steward rose up through journeyman to foreman, and held herself – and her co-workers – to a high standard of professionalism and courteous behavior. She feels that workplace ethic and professionalism are improved when women are on the crews. “I saw changes in behavior,” Steward says. “If someone made an inappropriate comment, I called them out on it. I have a great long-term relationship with the men I did my apprenticeship with. Now they are in management positions, and they understand what needs to change.” In 2013, after 18 years in the industry, Steward became an organizer for Local 16. “I worked very hard to get new signatories, as we hadn’t signed any new contractors since the 90s,” she says. “I looked to Leah Rambo from Local 28 in New York for inspiration on how to get more women into our JATC— they have been very progressive in getting women into the trade in recent years.” According to Steward, Local 16 hired a female instructor three years ago. That was not the full extent of changing the environment. “We are educating people about harassment and negative behavior,” she says. “Everyone needs to refuse to tolerate non-inclusive behavior because we need more women and minorities in our business.” After she became an organizer, Steward noticed there was a large dropout rate for female and minority apprentices, and she decided to turn things around. “I checked into the stats for the past 20 years,” she says, “and out of 400 women who showed interest in the trade, 73 got into apprenticeships, but only 23 completed the program. The JATC, the union, and the contractors all realized there were issues.” Steward went out of her way to make sure female apprentices were paired up with foremen who would mentor them, and she looked for opportunities to put them on the same job site with other women. She also made sure to spend time with female apprentices so that they could see a woman in a leadership position. “Vanessa is a go-getter,” says Carol Duncan of General Sheet Metal in Clackamas, Oregon, who hired Steward to begin a new division. “She is a petite powerhouse. She is passionate about what she does, and she knows her stuff.” Duncan agrees a more diverse workforce is needed. In Portland, she is involved with the Labor-Management Community Oversight Committee (LMCOC) that ensures minorities and women are represented in the workforce. “[Steward] is able to talk to kids, and she brings them in,” Duncan says. “Once they are in training, she checks on them and is genuinely interested in them and their families.” As an organizer, Steward was very involved with the preapprentice program to encourage young women in their career path. Steward says having a Women’s Committee as a part of the Local is a good step to retaining female workers. “It’s important
to get the contractors and the Local on board, and not create a ‘them against us’ atmosphere,” Steward says. Local 16 members urged Steward to run for business agent, and she was elected on July 26 for a three-year term. Although changes are coming slowly to the industry, Duncan believes they are coming. “When you get one woman, and she starts saying good things, it attracts more women [to the industry]. Employees recruiting other employees is always the best way to get people into the business. Now, we have women whose daughters and nieces are getting interested in sheet metal work, just as we have had sons, grandsons, and nephews following in their fathers’ footsteps in the past.” Steward also encourages women to network with other women in the trades. “The Women Build Nations conference is in Seattle this year,” she says. “Two thousand women are expected to be there, and the SMART Army is going early to do volunteer work in the community.” (For more information on the conference, go to womenbuildnations.org) “I’d tell women considering a career in sheet metal to talk to other women in the industry. That way, they can get a realistic idea of what is expected of them when they enter the sheet metal workforce,” Steward says. She is excited about what the future will bring. “We are seeing better growth and retention,” she says. “Our Local has great opportunities for our apprentices, and we all benefit from a diverse workplace.” Cari Bilyeu Clark is a freelance writer based in Northern Virginia.
Vanessa Steward » August 2018 » 9
© Can Stock Photo / photography33
You Don’t Know About Foremen By /Mark Breslin
I bet you think you know sheet metal foremen pretty well. You don’t. Really.
They’ve been in the industry forever, right? But most haven’t really been paying attention. Foremen are the backbone of companies, and they are holding back. Contractors and union reps miss a lot by making assumptions about who foremen are and what they think. And those assumptions are costing companies hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars in lost profits over the course of their careers. I’ve spent the last several years talking with and training several thousand foremen and superintendents all over the United States and Canada, so I know what I’m saying when I tell you, honestly, you don’t have a clue what’s going on inside their heads. Let’s start by examining a list I put together of 10 very important things you probably don’t understand about sheet metal foremen.
10 » Partners in Progress » www.pinp.org
1. They don’t see themselves as professionals. They don’t describe themselves that way. They don’t see it as a professional position; in fact, they barely see it as a management position. If individuals who are going to manage $100,000,000 to $1 billion in projects over the course of their careers aren’t professionals, then what are they? Maybe it is important to ask them. 2. On average, foremen have received zero formal professional leadership and management training to prepare them for this high level responsibility, role, and identity. 3. Foremen don’t know what they do for a living. When I ask them, a full 90% respond, “I’m a [Pipefitter, Ironworker, Boilermaker… fill in the craft].” This is the wrong answer. It reflects a craft-worker mindset, not a supervisory one. The correct answer is, “I am a professional construction foreman/superintendent.” It’s very difficult for them to
make that jump and not feel embarrassed, but how they see themselves determines how they act and lead on the job. They are no longer just “one of the guys”. 4. Foremen rarely solicit input from their crews. They a) think they will look weak, b) worry that someone else will get credit for a good idea and take their job, c) would never think to ask, or d) don’t even know that it’s part of their job. 5. Foremen run their crews almost 100% of the time using authority, not influence. Which approach do you think is more effective, productive, and profitable? 6. Foremen are often stuck between the roles of boss and friend. This kills the ability to discipline and hold others accountable for their actions. 7. Most foremen do not effectively delegate. They are get-itdone people and therefore over-participate in the action at the jobsite. They are excellent at directing tasks. They generally do not empower people and wouldn’t know how to anyway. Wonder whose fault that is? 8. Foremen often have confused loyalties between their roles as multi-million dollar company managers and union members. The peer pressure of being a “good union guy” is leveraged regularly by their peers, reducing their effectiveness and authority. 9. Foremen do not admit mistakes or failures. Failure is not a learning experience in their eyes; failure is simply failure. 10. Many foremen do not know how to effectively motivate their crews. The most effective and well-documented tools of praise and positive reinforcement are generally entirely absent. What was not given to them will not be given to others. I’m willing to guess a few of the items on this list didn’t come as a surprise. So the obvious question is, what can we do to fix these attitudes among foremen? By refusing to act or address the problems, we own them. How about the attitudes and actions on the list that you didn’t know about? Now that you do, what’s your next move? How, as an industry, can we discuss them and provide foremen with the tools to address them, or just rationalize them away and take the path of least resistance? Several hundred thousand foremen are waiting for help. They’re doing the best they can with what they’ve got, but they need their employers and their industry to help them understand how important and vital they are. They need serious professional support to become high-quality leaders and managers. But really, I think they’re waiting for us to acknowledge the challenges. Mark Breslin is a speaker on construction leadership, strategy, and labor-management relations and has written several best-selling books. He has presented at Partners in Progress conferences in the past. His latest book, The Five Minute Foreman, is available at breslin.biz.
Sheet Metal Foremen: Planning, Goal Setting, and Performance Improvement Kevin Doherty, a consultant to the construction industry, teaches a workshop on foreman training called Sheet Metal Foremen: Planning, Goal Setting, and Performance Improvement. It is a specialized program that focuses on several realities of being a supervisor, including the following: Leadership vs Daily Realities – Most will agree that leadership is important, but dayto-day deadlines, job anxiety, and production pressures keep us from maturing as leaders. While constant job pressures force bossing tendencies, no demand is forcing us to be better leaders. We must be self-motivated. People Difficulties and Accountability – People are all different, making dealing with them quite a challenge. They hurt our feelings, steal from us, think differently than we do, and generally confuse us. Such difficulties can cause us to approach people problems with little or no logic. Successful people leadership requires commitment to basic people management practices. People as an Investment – People are like any other investment. With proper planning and selection, you can maximize your return. While there is no guarantee you will be successful, you can increase your odds. Productivity and Communication Pitfalls – The larger a business becomes, the greater the likelihood of production and communication problems. Working smarter, not harder, is the key to enhanced productivity. The Importance of Planning, Staying Ahead of the Job, and Productivity – The program emphasizes skills and techniques you may use to expand your people management abilities. Most business owners, front-line supervisors, and other managers are not people management experts. Many are proficient technicians who were suddenly thrust into the role of managing people. Kevin Dogherty has presented a number of seminars and workshops for SMART and SMACNA, including a session at the Partners in Progress Conference. Learn more about Kevin Dogherty at pinp.org/conferences/pinp18/speakers/kevindougherty/. Foreman Secrets » August 2018 » 11
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