MTD IN THE NEWS | November 1, 2021


71st Metal Trades Department Convention Round Up — The Challenges of a Virtual Convention


We get knocked down,
we get up again

You are never gonna keep us down
get knocked down, but we get up again
You are never gonna keep us down…


We all seek a silver lining in the face of adversity or tragedy such as the hardship and inconvenience imposed upon us all by COVID-19

With that in mind the Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO proceeded to plan its 71st Convention in a manner that safeguarded the health of its delegates, officers, staff and guests

What better way to comply with all the restrictions, health and safety concerns enacted upon us than by producing a live virtual convention?

Imagine, an online convention providing us all with the ultimate platform to share information, spark discussions, host engaging sessions, and facilitate networking for the metal trades universe!


Despite the best laid plans in addition to the creation of a state of the art virtual event platform, amid the yeoman’s work performed by our dedicated Metal Trades Department officers, staff and vendors, October 13, 2021, was not to be our best technical day, but rather one that threatened to drive mere mortals with super human abilities to succumb to the confusion, aggravation and hopelessness when confronted with what we were assured was a near perfect technology.

But the Department, its officers, delegates and guests survived and thrived throughout what was surely a disconcerting remote virtual ordeal to deal with the compulsory and significant Metal Trades Department business of the day!

And What a Day it Was!

Our delegates and guests were treated to a day of formal activities and ceremonies from an interesting array of Speakers


Keynote Speaker AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler

After a video welcome from female Metal Trades Council leadership, Ms. Shuler spoke to the delegates and guests about how the labor movement has stepped up during “the worst ever public health crisis.”

Ms. Schuler said, “it is because working people have stepped up. And your members have stepped up. And because of that,
we in the labor movement are at a tipping point, this is our moment, this is our chance to put power on the side of working people by building a bold, modern, dynamic and inclusive labor movement.”

See President Shuler’s full remarks >


Steven Schrippa

Actor, producer, and author Steven Schrippa sent kind words for a successful Convention to his high school friend, Metal Trades Department President Jimmy Hart. See Steven Schrippa’s Welcome >

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer welcomed delegates and guests to the Convention.

In his remarks he discussed the need to pass the PRO Act and enact President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. See Senator Schumer’s address >


Heisman Winner Gino Toretta


Gino Toretta, former Heisman Trophy winner and professional football player who was a quarterback in the National Football League for five seasons, spoke to delegates and guests at the October 13, 2021, virtual Convention about his union roots and why working union makes a difference.

See Gino Toretta’s remarks >

Praising the work of the Metal Trades, Toretta said, “your history reads much like our times today, workers were tired of corporate dominance over our government. workers saw strength in numbers and then they formed unions, and just think, that was when the pay gap between the workers and the CEO wasn’t near what it is today. Now that corporate domination comes in the form of political contributions and their influence on our elected officials. Hopefully President Biden and Marty Walsh can really accomplish protecting workers.”


Executive Council Members Martinez and Jones


IAM&AW General President Bob Martinez, who joined the Convention from the Machinists’ headquarters in Upper Marlboro,Md., gave a special thank you to MTD essential workers who have kept our country running since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

General President Martinez also lauded President Hart saying he is “excited about the future of the Metal Trades Department” under his leadership.


International Brotherhood of Boilermakers General President Newton Jones thanked President Hart and all of the Metal Trades for their leadership and accomplishments over the last five years. Speaking specifically to President Hart about the reopening of the Philly Shipyard, General President Jones acknowledged Hart’s contributions there as a “master stroke.”

General President Jones continued “your relationships with the military are extremely important, particularly with the Navy and shipbuilding in the Metal Trades Department.”

Closing, Jones said “I look forward to your unimpeded leadership. We have some of the finest workers in the world that make up both our union and the Metal Trades.”


Convention Business

While much of the day was consumed with Convention business, delegates and guests did take a moment to pay tribute to members of our Executive Council and affiliated union Presidents who retired over the past several years. Recent retirements included IUPAT General President Ken Rigmaiden, Metal Trades Department affiliate IFPTE President Paul Shearon, and Insulators Union General President James “Bud” McCourt. We wish them well in their retirement.

Sadly, we also paid tribute to several great labor leaders who passed away too soon including AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, past Metal Trades Department Presidents John Meese and Paul Burnsky, Sheet Metal General President Joe Nigro, IBEW General President Ed Hill, and IUOE General President Vincent Giblin.


Committee Reports, Resolutions and Constitutional Changes

Powering through several technical difficulties throughout the day, President Hart was able to recognize our management partners from the Philly Shipyard and UCOR before tackling the Constitutional duties of the Convention. Sharing a video that aired on PBS highlighting the labor-management partnership at UCOR, President Hart praised how well the two entities work together to train the workforce and accomplish UCOR’s mission.

Philly Shipyard CEO Steinar Nerbovik also sent a video message to President Hart and Convention delegates in which the more than 700 workers joined management in greeting the Convention. Delegates from the Philly delegation surprised President Hart when they nominated him for reelection. All members of the Executive Council were elected by acclimation.

Video from the first half of the day can be seen here >

The Department thanks all speakers, delegates and guests. We would also like to offer a special thank you to our Committee members for their hard work and diligence in helping complete the business of the Convention. We look forward to seeing you all in person, soon.

Despite the imperfections and challenges Metal Trades folks may get knocked down, but they get up again….

All in all, it was great day. An historic Convention, held at the Mecca and worker refuge of Organized Labor — AFL-CIO Headquarters in Washington, DC.

The business of Metal Trades was completed and the Convention was attended to by a diverse group of delegates from throughout the United States and Canada.

After the Convention, President Hart said, “we are, a department well equipped, with a renewed vision and diverse experienced councils, ready to confront the political, legislative and representational challenges of the next five years and beyond.”