The Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO is proud to welcome the following individuals as speakers to its 2018 Annual Metal Trades Department Conference

Photo of Will Attig
Will Attig
Executive Director Union Veterans Council

William Attig is a combat veteran of the OIF/OEF war. He served proudly with the 1-26th Infantry, one of the most decorated units of the Iraqi war.

After returning to civilian life, Attig struggled to find his way until he was given an opportunity to attend a veteran welding program with the Helmets to Hard Hats organization in 2010.

After completing the program with Helmets to Hard Hats, Attig went on to become an apprentice with UA Local #160 Plumbers & Pipefitters in Southern Illinois. After seeing what a great opportunity the union had given him, Attig started to advocate for programs that help fellow veterans find employment in organized labor.

By working with both state and federal legislators to promote veterans’ issues in Illinois, Attig has become one of the leading veterans advocates in the state. One of his proudest achievements is the honor of working alongside Illinois legislators to create a Veterans Suicide Task Force. That tack force is now a model program for lawmakers nationwide.

Upon completion of his apprenticeship Attig was appointed the political coordinator for UA Local #160 and then worked with the Illinois AFL-CIO as a Zone Coordinator in 2016.

In May of 2017, Attig was selected to lead the national Union Veterans Council at the AFL-CIO.  Attig’s main focus is building the program on a state and local level and supporting affiliates Veterans programs.

As a strong unionist Attig is determined to focus on prompting veteran involvement through Programs, OUTREACH, AND education

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Congressman John Garamendi
Congressman (D-CA 3rd District) House of Representatives

John Garamendi joined the U.S. House of Representatives on November 5, 2009. He brings nearly four decades of public service to the House Armed Services and Transportation & Infrastructure committees.

He has been a tireless proponent of job creation, quality and affordable health care, education, environmental protection, and scientific research, while always working to ensure the stability and success of the state he has always called home.

Garamendi was raised on his family’s cattle ranch in Mokelumne Hill. He graduated with a BA in business from UC Berkeley and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Garamendi and his wife started their married life as Peace Corps volunteers teaching and doing community development work in Ethiopia. Patti has served as Assistant Director of the Peace Corps and as a Deputy Administrator at the United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service. John and Patti live in Walnut Grove and have six children and ten grandchildren.

As California’s 46th Lieutenant Governor, Garamendi was Chair of the Commission for Economic Development, where he transformed this important body into a powerhouse to advocate for workforce development, vocational education, and research. As a Regent of the University of California and Trustee for the California State University System, Garamendi fought to hold the line on student fee increases and excessive administrator salaries. As Chair of the California State Lands Commission, he led the fight against new offshore oil drilling.

John was elected to the California legislature in 1974, where he served for 16 years, attaining the position of Senate Majority Leader. His laws established California’s emergency medical system, expanded community health clinics, created a work-oriented welfare program, protected Lake Tahoe and Mono Lakes, and developed an overall state agenda for competitiveness and scientific advancement. He authored the Senior Center Bond Act and a proposition that brought $18 billion to public transit and highways.

In 1991, Garamendi became California’s Insurance Commissioner. He successfully implemented Proposition 103, reforming the auto and homeowner insurance industry. He delivered over $1 billion in rebates to insurance consumers and lowered homeowner and auto insurance rates, saving consumers over $24 billion. Under his leadership the Department protected homeowners devastated by the Oakland Hills Fire, forcing insurers to fully pay for rebuilding. His Department earned a reputation as the best consumer protection agency in the nation.

In 1995, President Bill Clinton appointed Garamendi as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Interior Department. John spearheaded efforts to resolve water disputes in California and to protect the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta. He negotiated the purchase of the Headwaters Forest, coordinated research on global warming, and established habitat conservation plans in California.

Reelected California’s Insurance Commissioner in 2002, he set about rebuilding the Department. His work culminated in new laws that led to a 58% reduction in workers compensation costs. His Home Owners Bill of Rights added protections for homeowners and reduced their premiums by over $500 million. He reestablished an aggressive anti-fraud task force, sponsored legislation to prevent senior insurance scams, improved protections for disabled consumers, and stopped insurance brokers from overcharging business consumers. He developed a comprehensive health care report analyzing California’s health care system with 43 concrete recommendations.

One of Garamendi’s passions is a commitment to international service. He led a group of returned Peace Corps volunteers on a peace mission during the Ethiopian-Eritrea war in 1998-2000, helping to negotiate a peace treaty. Garamendi created a similar team that assisted in peace negotiations in the Congo Civil War.

Rep. Garamendi has forged a reputation as a fierce defender of consumers and a visionary, effective leader. He possesses the unique wealth of knowledge and experience necessary to tackle today’s complex challenges.

Photo of Russell Gittlen
Russell Gittlen
President and Director Guide Dogs of America

Like most successful organizations, Guide Dogs of America depends on the talents, goals, and generosity of many dedicated people. In our case, this group includes our board of directors, staff, puppy raisers, volunteers, donors, and the visually impaired men and women that we serve. Russell Gittlen and GSD Pup While many of us may know the pleasure of canine companionship and loyalty from our family pet, we cannot appreciate the complexity of the relationship that develops between a visually impaired person and their guide dog. Because GDA understands so well the critical interdependence between the user and the dog, our staff is adept at grasping the personalities and attributes of each dog and each visually impaired person to make a good match. Our instructors are also expert at incorporating the lifestyle and circumstances of each visually impaired person when developing our training programs. With no government funding, our school relies solely on donations and fundraising to provide guide dogs and instruction in their use free of charge. All of us at GDA greatly enjoy our work and we’re grateful for our donors and volunteers’ generous support that changes the lives of so many visually impaired men and women. Before I was GDA’s president, I was a GDA volunteer. For 16 years, I worked to support GDA through fundraising activities. One of my goals as director of this world-class guide dog school is to bring the passion for GDA that was instilled upon me during my time as a volunteer to anyone interested in getting involved. Visit the “How to Help” page to learn about the many ways you can support GDA. I hope to meet you at one of our events on GDA’s campus or when I’m traveling on behalf of the school.

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Mr. Newton Jones

Newton B. Jones has served as the Boilermakers International president since July 24, 2003, when the International Executive Council elected him to complete the unexpired term of International President Charles W. Jones, who resigned after 20 years in office. In July 2006, delegates to the Boilermakers 31st Consolidated Convention in Las Vegas unanimously re-elected Newton to a five-year term.

Newton has served the Boilermakers union in various capacities over the past 33 years ― as a construction boilermaker; organizer; director of organizing and communications; managing editor of the Boilermaker Reporter and Boilermaker Organizer newspapers; and as the International vice president of the Boilermakers’ southeast area.

Newton began his career as a field construction boilermaker in 1971, working in the jurisdiction of Local 454, Chattanooga, Tenn., on a Georgia Power project. In 1972, he joined Local 203 in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and worked on a refinery job. He later transferred his membership to Local 199 in Jacksonville, Florida, and worked mainly as a high rigger and as a certified pressure welder.

In 1981, Newton joined the International staff as an organizer; he was appointed director of organizing and communications in 1986. He was the principal architect of the Boilermakers’ Fight Back construction organizing strategy, an innovative and effective approach to organizing in the construction industry. As managing editor of the Boilermaker Reporter, he computerized the Boilermakers publications department, and oversaw the modernization of all computer operations at Boilermaker headquarters. As International vice president for the southeast area (1994-2003), Newton negotiated one of the largest increases to the wage and benefits package the area has enjoyed.

While working as a Boilermaker, Newton also attended the University of South Florida and Florida State University. He graduated from the Harvard Trade Union Program in 1985.

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Bridget Martin
Senior Vice President, Labor Market Development Bank of Labor

Bridget joined Bank of Labor in December 2014 after more than 20 years of labor experience in political strategy, lobbying, and public affairs. She is highly regarded for her ability to identify and establish critical alliances. Bridget’s responsibilities at the Bank include promoting relationships with labor and allied organizations, and facilitating the bank’s expansion.

Bridget was appointed by Republican Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao to serve on a minimum wage committee in American Samoa, selected by the Democratic National Committee during a presidential year to oversea Labor Affairs and nominated by American Council of Young Political Leaders to represent U.S. labor in Romania.

Bridget holds her M.A. in Government from Johns Hopkins University and B.S. in Economics from Virginia Tech. She is a member of Boilermakers Local 693, serves as trustee of Pharmaceutical Labor-Management Association, board member of Women’s Campaign Fund and former Co-Chair of Women of Labor.

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Douglas A. Matheney
Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Department of Energy Department of Energy

Douglas A. “Doug” Matheney is the Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Department of Energy, as a liaison assigned to the Office of Fossil Energy.

A native of Southeast Ohio, Mr. Matheney worked in the coal industry from 1976 to 1993.    After leaving the coal industry, he served as a consultant for the Ohio Coal Association and the National Mining Association, working on coal issues with various elected officials in Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky.  He also handled coal and energy issues for Americans for Prosperity.

In addition to his industry and consulting experience, Mr. Matheney also served as County Commissioner for Morgan County, Ohio from 1983 to 1991.  In 2016, he joined the Trump presidential campaign, where he managed 11 counties in Southeast Ohio.

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Timothy Ryan
Vice President, Benefit Relations Student Resource Center, LLC

Timothy Ryan is the Vice President of Benefit Relations and a higher education onboarding strategist for the Free College Benefit.

After spending nearly 2 decades in marketing and consumer awareness, Tim knows what truly motivates people to engage in the Free College Benefit. It’s how well you connect with the hard-working union members you’re trying to help and communicating your understanding back to them.

Tim comes to the Free College Benefit program on recommendation from the Rhode Island Institute for Labor Studies and Research and spent his first two years as director of the Free College Student Resource Center.

Since leaving that position in 2017, Tim has been traveling the country meeting with Union leadership and general membership to help expand awareness and listen for new ways to improve and excite your Free College Benefit.

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Edward M. Smith
President and CEO ULLICO

On January 3, 2011, Edward M. Smith was elevated to Chief Executive Officer of Ullico Inc. after serving as its President since May of 2008. Ullico Inc., founded in 1927, provides insurance and financial solutions for labor unions, union employers, union benefit funds, and union members. Prior to becoming President, Mr. Smith served as Ullico Inc.’s Executive Vice President from January 2007 until May 2008.

Before joining Ullico, Smith had a long and distinguished career at the Laborers’ International Union of North America. After joining LiUNA at age 13, he was elected Business Manager of Laborer’s Local 773 at age 21. Smith later became International Union Vice President and Midwest Regional Manager serving over 58,000 members. He also served as Assistant to the General President.

Smith formerly served as Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Investment, Chairman of the National Alliance for Fair Contracting, and a member of the Illinois Department of Labor Advisory Board. He has also been a key benefactor to the Therapy Center in Carterville, Illinois which provides free services for children with disabilities.

Smith was the first member of the Laborers International Union (LiUNA) to graduate from the National Labor College with a bachelor’s degree. Smith went on to graduate from the Harvard University Trade Union Program. He is now an active board member for Laborers’ Charitable Foundation, Laborers CARE, Jobs with Justice, America’s Agenda-Healthcare for All, and serves as a trustee for the AFL-CIO Staff Retirement Plan.

Photo of Mr. Daniel E. Stepano
Mr. Daniel E. Stepano

Dan became General President of the Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ International Association on April 16, 2016. He was initiated into the OPCMIA on August 5, 1980, as a Plasterer in Local Union No. 31, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Dan has worked in the plaster trade performing all trade processes of the craft and has served the Local Union in various positions including Recording Secretary, Apprentice Coordinator/Instructor, Executive Board Member, Business Agent, Trustee of the Health and Welfare, Apprenticeship, Pension and Annuity Funds, Business Manager and Financial Secretary. On July 22, 2004, he was appointed to the position of International Vice President and General Executive Board Member.  In August of 2004, at the 48th OPCMIA International Convention, Dan was elected International Vice President and to the General Executive Board of the Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ International Association. In June of 2007, Dan was appointed to the position of Executive Vice President and then on January 1, 2007, he was appointed to serve as the Director of Organizing. Dan was elected as Executive Vice President and also to the General Executive Board of the Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ International Association in August of 2009, at the 50th OPCMIA International Convention and again to both positions in August of 2014 at the 51st OPCMIA International Convention. Dan comes from a family with a strong union background.  His Father was a member of the OPCMIA Pittsburgh Local for over 46 years.  Dan and his wife are the proud parents of two sons, Edward John and Ryan Jacob.

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Rear Admiral Stephen F. Williamson
Deputy Commander, Logistics, Maintenance and Industrial Operations Naval Sea Systems Command

Rear Adm. Stephen Williamson is a native of Bowie, Maryland. He entered the Navy through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program at the University of Maryland, College Park, and the George Washington University where he received a bachelor’s degree in economics. He attended the Naval Postgraduate School and became an engineering duty officer while earning his Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1996.

Williamson’s tours as a surface warfare officer included damage control assistant on USS Lynde McCormick (DDG 8) and first lieutenant on USS Long Beach (CGN 9). While on USS Long Beach, he completed a major overhaul while the ship was in Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

His engineering duty tours include deputy project superintendent and docking officer at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, mine warfare type desk officer at Commander, Naval Surface Forces Atlantic; officer in charge of the Fleet Technical Support Center det. Mayport; combat systems repair officer, Southeast Regional Maintenance Center; officer in charge Ship Repair Facility & Japan Regional Maintenance Center Yokosuka detachment Sasebo; business, production and operations officer at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility; the 48th commander of Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility; and individual augmentee tour for U.S. Central Command in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Williamson reported as the director, fleet maintenance, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet in October 2015.

Williamson assumed his current duties as deputy commander, logistics, maintenance and industrial operations, Naval Sea Systems Command in September 2017.

His personal decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (three awards) and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (four awards).